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How Incorporating Data Analytics Tools Impacts Accounting Students Beyond the Classroom

A few years ago, my co-instructors and I made the decision to incorporate data analytics into our Intermediate Accounting courses. Our conversations with accounting and consulting firms, in particular, really reinforced the idea that data analytics is a skill set that employers want students to have when they start.

In our program, both accounting and finance majors take Intermediate Accounting I during the fall semester of their first year in business school. Since the course falls early in the program, Intermediate Accounting I provides the perfect opportunity to expose all accounting and finance students to data analytics before they start internships and full-time jobs. Often, our students receive at least some exposure before they start interviewing for internships.

We currently use Excel-based assignments and Tableau assignments that are available in Connect with Intermediate Accounting. We prefer the Applying Tableau Cases, where students use Tableau to create visualizations and then perform analyses and comparisons. This seemed like the best choice for us because most of our students have heard of Tableau and know it is a popular analytics tool but have not had experience using it yet.

The Applying Tableau Cases have been very well received by my students. They really enjoy learning how to use Tableau to analyze an accounting data set to make decisions, much like they will need to do in the “real world.” In fact, I have had a couple of requests from eager students for more Tableau Cases! But, honestly, my favorite feedback is when students come back and tell me they were able to talk about their experiences using Tableau during internship or job interviews. It certainly makes me feel like I’m giving the students the hands-on experience that they need to succeed!

About the Author

Jennifer Winchel is an Associate Professor of Commerce and the Carman G. Blough Professor of Accounting at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. She is a co-author of Intermediate Accounting 11th edition by Spiceland, Nelson, Thomas & Winchel. Prior to returning to academia, Jennifer was an audit manager at PwC.

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