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Asking Case Study Questions Differently


									      Asking Case Study Questions Differently
           in AC435 Ethics for Accountants

                     Jolene A. Lampton, Ph.D.

    In fulfillment of watching CETL’s Videos on Adult Education


                    Asking Case Study Questions Differently
                        in AC435 Ethics for Accountants

      In fulfillment of viewing the CETL videos on adult education – “Teaching
Today’s Learner,” I am requesting certification for having viewed this video. I
am also submitting the case study used in my AC435 Ethics for Accountants class
and assignments will change for future classes in an attempt to reach the learners in
my class.

       We all know that dating in the office may not be in the best interest of
organizations. Putting that dilemma in an accounting firm where one female
employee reports to the partner on an audit engagement poses difficult challenges
in the audit firm. In my AC435 Ethics for Accountants class, I facilitate a case
study discussion called Giles and Regas.

       As stated in the case study, Giles is a 35-year-old partner in the accounting
firm Saduga & Mihca. Sue Regas is a 25-year-old senior accountant in the same
firm. Both Giles and Regas know the firm’s policy on dating. Although it is
acceptable for peers to date, the firm does not permit two members of different
ranks within the firm to date. A partner should not date a senior in the firm
anymore than a senior should date a junior staff accountant. If such dating does
occur and eventually leads to marriage, one of the two must resign because of the
conflict of interests. Giles and Regas have tried to be discreet about their
relationship because they do not want to create suspicions regarding their

      In the case study, while most of the staff seem to know about Giles and
Regas, it is not common knowledge among the partners that the two of them are
dating. Perhaps that is why Regas was assigned to work on the audit of CCA
Industries for a second year even though Giles is the supervising partner on the
engagement. The seriousness of the case study came forward in ways that such
unsuspecting things do . . . like when a friend inadvertently discovered flowers had
been sent by Regas to Giles with the signature “Love, Poochie” or when they were


seen by a client having dinner together.      This obviously was an ethical dilemma
that is the subject of the case study.

      In the past, I asked students to answer questions at the end of the case study.
Now that I have viewed “Teaching Today’s Learner”, I will change the strategy
for Lessons Learned from the case study. Previously, I asked students to write a
paper on Lessons Learned from the case study and allowed them to convey their
lessons learned with no specific questions asked. Now, in order to change my
assignments to appeal to the real issue in the case, I will ask students to answer the
following question in their Lessons Learned assignment:
      How would you draft the firm’s policy on dating and relationships in attest
      engagements? Further, what are the implications if such relationships are
      permitted among staff?

       The question is now more empowering and direct to today’s adult
learners. The question now addresses the real issue of dating in attest
engagements, an important concept in the case study. It appeals to students
in that it now requires that students structure policies for nepotism and/or
dating and relationships in accounting firms. And, it teaches a powerful
lesson to students about what can happen in the event of such relationships,
which can be a cause for conflict of interest.

       The revised question asks the “right question at the right time,” a skill
mentioned in Education by Judgment, a book on case study skills in
discussion classes. That book prompted my revision of the questions to get
to the “right questions” quickly for today’s multi-generational learners. The
new questions do not ramble through unnecessary facts; rather it gets to the
nexus of the dilemma – that is, to ask that students redesign a new policy for
nepotism when they learn of the realities of what can happen in modern-day
financial audits.

      In summary, through viewing CETL’s video on “Teaching Today’s
Learner,” and while reading the book on discussion leadership Education
by Judgment, I made the decision to revise the assignment on the case
study “Giles and Regas” in order to directly ask the “right questions” of
today’s adult learner. Asking the “right questions” at the “right time” will

better facilitate discussion on the real issue of the case study. Mastering the
skills of questioning is a lifelong process for discussion teachers with gains
that are enduring and substantial. If teachers deepen knowledge and
systematize their practice of these skills, better ways to communicate the
“what” and “why” are found.



    Christensen, Roland C. (1991). Education by Judgment. Boston:
       Harvard Business School Press.

    Mintz, Steven M. and Roselyn E. Morris (2008). Ethical Obligations and
       Decision Making in Accounting. New York: McGraw Hill-Irwin.




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