Principles of Accounting 1 Final Report
Retention, Promotion, and Graduation Project FY 06/07
Kris Clark 404.413.7208 or email@example.com
The Principles of Accounting 1 (Acct 2101) retention, promotion, and graduation grant
for fiscal year 2006/2007 was composed of two projects: (1) a peer counseling project
that was administered during the fall 2006 and spring 2007 semesters in the large classes
of Principles of Accounting 1 and (2) a benchmarking study that was conducted during
the fall 2006 semester and updated in spring 2007. Budget versus actual expenditures are
summarized in Exhibit 2.
Peer Counseling Project
The peer counseling project required all students who received a D or F on the first exam
to attend a 20 minute counseling session with a “peer” (a non-accounting major who had
successfully passed the class within the last year). This counseling requirement was
stated in the course syllabus. Non-accounting majors were selected as counselors since
the majority of students who struggle with acct 2101 are non-accounting majors. The
purpose of the counseling session was to have the student meet in a face to face
environment with a student counselor and discuss why he/she thought they did poorly on
the first exam and then develop a game plan to get them back on track with the class.
The project was limited to students who were taking Principles of Accounting 1 in the
large class format (approximately 75% of all Acct 2101 students).
During academic year 2006/2007, 1,021 students took the first exam with 292 (28.6%)
receiving a grade of D or F. These students were emailed the weekend of the first exam
requesting their preference for several counseling time slots. Since several counselors
were used for this program, there were a variety of appointment days and times during
the three weeks immediately following the first exam. All counseling sessions were
conducted in extra office space on the 5 th floor of the Robinson College of Business
building (i.e. the School of Accountancy floor).
197 of the 292 students who failed the first exam (67.5%) scheduled a counseling
appointment. However, 39 students did not show up for their counseling session and did
not respond to attempts to reschedule their appointment. Since we had plenty of
counseling time available, we allowed students who had received a C on the exam to
request a counseling appointment. Twelve students in this category requested a
counseling appointment but only seven of them showed up for their counseling session.
In total, 165 students were counseled: 158 students who did not pass the first exam and 7
students who received a C on the first exam.
Students who received counseling were asked to complete an anonymous one question
survey and leave it in a drop box by the elevators. 145 students (88% of the students
counseled during the fall 2006 and spring 2007 semesters) completed the survey. They
were asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 indicating “not valuable” and 10 indicating
“very valuable”, how would you rate your counseling session?” The average was 8.87.
In the following tables, information on withdrawals and grades are compared for fall
2005/spring 2006 (no peer counseling) and fall 2006/spring 2007 (peer counseling
available to at risk students).
Large Classes Large Classes
FY 05/06 FY 06/07
Withdrawal Rate 15.5% 8.6% *
Average GPA 1.92 2.13 **
Percentage of D’s & F’s 32.4% 27.5%
* Of the 165 students counseled, only 6.3% withdrew from the course.
** Reflects converting from the plus/minus grade point average calculations to the
previous system in order to compare 2006/2007 results with 2005/2006 data.
Although difficult to isolate the direct impact of the peer counseling project, results
suggest that some at risk students may have benefited from the peer counseling project.
Specifically, 71 of the 158 students (44.9%) who were counseled after receiving a D or F
on the first exam passed the course. If we look at all students who failed the first exam,
the pass percentage is only 35.6%. In interpreting the results, it should be noted that
average attendance for fall 2006/spring 2007 was approximately 76% compared to 72%
in fall 2005/spring 2006. The course uses an audience response pad system that allows
attendance data to be tracked and helps encourage interaction and provide feedback to
students in the large lectures. The peer counseling project has received funding for a
Benchmarking Study – Fall 2006 (including Spring 2007 update)
A survey (see Exhibit 1) was sent to 26 schools to gain information on enrollment, class
size, withdrawal percentage, and failure rates in their Principles of Accounting 1 classes.
The schools selected are primarily urban universities listed at the Great Cities’
Universities website at www.greatcitiesnet.org. Fifteen schools responded and all but
four of the responding schools have class sizes of 100 or more.
Annual % % D or Avg. Avg.
UNIVERSITY Enrollment Withdraw F SAT ACT
GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY 1650 12 30 1210
Arizona State University 1000 10 * 5* 1103 23.1
Boston University 1000 1 1 1333 29
City University of New York 960
Cleveland State University 1150 15-20 15-20 750 16
Florida International University 1469 19 15 -
George Washington University 1860 -
Indiana University (Indianapolis) 900+ 19+
Michigan State University 2000 12-14 10-12 1260 22-27
Portland State University 1000 21
University Cincinnati 850 5 10 1120 24
University of A labama at
Birmingham 5 20 - 23
University of Arizona 2000 8-10 20-30 1070 22.5
University of Colorado at Denver 300 22 8.6 1060 23
University of Georgia 1770 20 16 1350 26-30
University of Houston 1000 20 1281 -
University of I llinois at Chicago 1240 28
University of Massachusetts at
Boston 800 -
University of Memphis 1400 20 20 - 19
University of Minnesota 1268 28
University of Missouri at Kansas
City 1010 23
University of Missouri at St. Louis 600 10 10 1094 24
University of New Orleans 1058 21
University of Texas at Dallas 1360 -
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - 21
Virginia Commonwealth University 1000 33 50 1140 -
Wayne State University 500 20 30 970 21
* Percentage is based on one 40 person section only.
No response after 3 attempts to get information
NOTE: Withdrawal percentage and D or F percentage for Georgia State University was based upon data
for the fall 2005 through fall 2006 semesters.
The data reflects the fact that accounting is a difficult subject for many students. Georgia
State’s percentage of D and F students when compared to the other schools is on the high
side; however, our withdrawal percentage is lower than a significant number of schoo ls.
It is interesting to compare Georgia State University and the University of Georgia since
we pull many of our students from the same population. It is also interesting to note that
Michigan State University offers their Principles of Accounting 1 course in the same
format as Georgia State. Two days a week are in large lectures and one day a week in 35
person breakout sessions. Ten of the schools provided copies of their syllabi. The
percentage of the grade that was determined by exams ranged from 70 – 90% with 75%
being the most typical. At Georgia State, 80% of the Acct 2101 final course grade is
Benchmarking Study Follow Up
After submitting the interim report, I contacted Charles Bokemeir at Michigan State
University on April 9, 2007 to discuss their first accounting course in more detail since
they deliver the course in the same format. Charles is the course coordinator and lecturer
for Michigan State. In other words, he is me! Although Michigan State’s withdrawal
percentage is similar to Georgia State’s, their average D/F percentage is 10 – 12%
compared to 30% at Georgia State. I wanted to see if I could gain some insight into this
difference by speaking with Charles.
The primary difference in the percentage of students receiving a D or F at the two
universities is that Michigan State curves their grades so the end result each semester is
between 2.7 and 2.8. Charles felt that their numbers would be very similar to Georgia
State’s if they did not curve final course grades. At Michigan State, only 1,200 students
are admitted to their College of Business each year. Usually that means that a student
would have to have a 3.1 – 3.2 grade point average in order to be admitted. At Georgia
State, we do not have a limit on the number of students who are admitted to the Robinson
College of Business but we do have a minimum grade point average of 2.5. It is
interesting that at both schools the average grade point average for the course is
approximately .5 below the requirement to be admitted into the business college.
The course delivery is remarkably similar with the most notable exception being that
juniors and seniors are used for the teaching assistants in the Friday breakout sessions at
Michigan State. Graduate students from the Masters in Professional Accounting or
Masters in Taxation programs are hired at GSU. Grading requirements are similar
between the two schools with two exceptions: (1) at Michigan State, 70% of the course
grade is based upon exams compared to 80% at GSU and (2) Michigan State incorporates
a graded class activity into the Friday breakout session. Beginning fall 2007, we will
reduce the exam component of the course grade to 75% and have graded activities in the
I teach and coordinate Georgia State University’s Principles of Accounting 1 course. As
part of a retention, promotion, and graduation project, I am contacting you in hopes that
you will provide me some general information about this course at your institution by
completing this brief survey. The information you provide will be used internally to
help benchmark our course. A self-addressed, stamped envelope has been provided for
returning the survey.
1. In an average 12 month period (spring, fall and summer sessions), approximately
how many students register for your Principles of Accounting 1 course (i.e. the
first accounting course offered at your institution)? ________________
2. What is the largest class size offered for your Principles of Accounting 1 course?
3. Do you offer smaller sections? If so, what is the maximum enrollment in them?
4. In an average semester, approximately what percentage of the enrolled students
withdraw from the Principles of Accounting 1 course? ______________
5. In an average semester, approximately what percentage of the students still
enrolled in the course at the end of the semester receive a failing grade (D or F)?
6. If possible, please include a copy of a typical Principles 1 syllabus for your
I greatly appreciate your time in completing this survey. I would enjoy further
correspondence on any issues regarding Principles of Accounting. Please feel free to call
or email me with additional thoughts or guidance.
Best wishes and many thanks,
Kris J. Clark
Student Counselors $2,880.00 $1,267.80
Student Assistant 480.00 420.00
Graduate Research Assistant 900.00 900.00
Office Supplies 60.00 28.18
Total $4,320.00 $2,615.98