UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An examination of teaching professionalism in an undergraduate accounting program at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan Hilton, Andrew


Accounting education within undergraduate programs is facing a developing crisis in teaching students what it means to be a professional. Following significant and highly visible accounting scandals such as Enron and Worldcom, the accounting profession must regain public trust. Multiple calls for education reform in accounting have called for programs to incorporate professionalism into the curriculum. This thesis examines the extent that professionalism is included in the curriculum of two undergraduate accounting programs at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Using data from faculty interviews, archival data, student and alumni focus groups, and interviews with recruiters from the professional accounting firms, this thesis provides a comprehensive overview of how professionalism is conceptualized and how it is taught at UBC, from both the curricular and pedagogical perspectives. This thesis also identifies elements of teaching professionalism that are effective. Triangulation of data from multiple sources (faculty, students, alumni, and recruiters) provides strong evidence on how to effectively teach professionalism in accounting education. The participants' conceptions of professionalism might be characterized as three layers including simple behavioural issues, very deep and complex ethical issues, and softer skills including cognitive skills, communication skills, and personal and interpersonal skills. This evidence will be useful to other undergraduate accounting programs concerned with developing future professionals.

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