Effectively Teaching an Excel for Accounting Course

By Eric Weinstein, author of Labyrinth Learning’s Excel for Accounting and Payroll Accounting

Excel for Accounting provides practical skills students can immediately apply within a business environment, which is one reason why this course is becoming an integral part of the curriculum at an increasing number of colleges. While an Excel for Accounting course can take on many forms, following some general guidelines can enhance its efficacy.

Tip #1 More practice, fewer lectures.

professor with students working in computer labIntroducing new topics is important, but the bulk of students’ time should be spent working through problems—not listening to lectures. Students internalize methods through practice. Even time spent poking around the Excel Ribbon is time well spent because students are familiarizing themselves with the program. Encourage students to avoid trying to memorize where commands are located and instead focus on exploration and gaining overall comfort using Excel.

Tip #2 There isn’t always a “right” way.

You want students to complete worksheets logically and accurately but accounting worksheets—like the bank reconciliation—can take on many forms. As long as the information is accurate and effectively conveys key information, worksheet appearance can vary—even greatly—from one student to the next. Encourage students to develop their own styles and approaches.

Tip #3 Reinforce concepts through similarly structured problems.

Group of young people in computing class

In a general Excel course, students use many differently structured worksheets as they master Excel skills. In an Excel for Accounting course, students are learning to complete specific accounting-related worksheets. Allow students to complete the same types of exercises repeatedly to hone their skills without worrying about changing worksheet structure.

Tip #4 Avoid comprehensive projects.

Excel for Accounting courses teach the completion of accounting tasks within an Excel environment—and those accounting tasks for which Excel is most beneficial are often unrelated. Combining them into one comprehensive project assigned at the end of the term can appear as an artificial combination of elements and should be avoided.

Happy teaching!

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