Adding Value to Audit Education through ‘Living’ Cases
University of Huddersﬁeld, UK Received: November 2009 Revised: July 2010 Accepted: September 2010
ABSTRACT This paper seeks to address the perceived failure of university teaching to foster critical understanding of audit practice and to identify a potential remedy. It contributes to the debate (Maltby, 2001, “Second thoughts about ‘Cases in Auditing’,” Accounting Education: an international journal, 10(4), 421– 428) by investigating the double-faceted nature of auditing: as a sub-set of the academic discipline of accounting and as professional practice. Although case studies are helpful for students of auditing, they tend to be artiﬁcial, or at best, retrospective. This paper introduces a different type of case study for audit education using corporate failure stories from the media as an example, proposing and explaining the notion of the ‘living case’ in order to foster critical appraisal of audit practice. It contributes to the literature on audit education by describing how this different type of case can address both the technical activities and the social practice of audit through Kolb’s (1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall) experiential learning theory and thus concludes that there is a place for the practical nature of auditing in academic study, in order to fully appreciate the social aspects. KEY WORDS : Audit education, case method; media
Introduction The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate on the kind of case studies that are useful in auditing education. The paper introduces the notion of a ‘living case’ which is a framework for analysis of a reported media story such as a ﬁnancial event or crisis. It seeks to identify and explain a way forward for the auditing educator, addressing criticisms of the use of case studies in auditing, by using the media to contribute to the case study method in auditing education. Thus, the paper re-examines the problems associated with the nature of existing case studies for audit education, reviewing their limitations in the context of academic debate and use in an undergraduate auditing module. It enhances the debate through introducing the living case which is a hybrid of the case
Correspondence Address: Julie Drake, Department of Accountancy, The Business School, University of Huddersﬁeld, Queensgate, Huddersﬁeld HD1 3DH, UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 0963-9284 Print/1468-4489 Online/11/020203–20 # 2011 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/09639284.2011.557518
204 J. Drake
history (Easton, 1992) and case study (Milne and McConnell, 2001) with a framework to support the application of what is termed a ‘living’ case. The merits of the living case are evaluated using the propositions (Kolb and Kolb, 2005) for experiential learning theory (ELT). It is argued that such a case method would assist auditing educators to meet the needs of the accountancy profession and society, not only in their demand for employable graduates, but also to produce professionals with critical, broad skills that will enable the recognition of the reality and far-reaching consequences of corporate failure. Further, the model used will support the development of students’ skills in abstraction and experimentation in support of the promulgation of life-long learning (Howieson, 2003) as encapsulated in the ELT model. The aim for the pedagogy of the living case is to make it current, therefore, relevant and useful, thus avoiding a posthumous effect and a dead, life-less scenario for educator and student. It moves away from historical artefacts that are dead cases such as Enron, WorldCom, and Barings, and recognizes that a freshness is required which captures events as they emerge to process a number of ‘What if?’ scenarios to bring an element of...