This paper describes a case study of the experiences and attitudes of Accounting educators and students regarding the effects of ethical courses for there major. I present professional educators options on how the classes should be implemented, and interviews with Ole Miss alums with their degrees in Accounting. The purpose of the study is to gather information concerning the content and reliability in university ethics courses. I report on the impressions of theses courses on previous Accounting students and how they will affect future Accounting students. The results of this study maybe useful to educators that are trying to mend the ethical classes to help future students to not make the same mistakes as the ones in the past. My goal is to help policy makers and regulators allow companies and shareholders to have more faith in Accounting majors and business majors alike, knowing that they have the education they need to make the best decisions moving forward.
Introduction with literature review
Due to the fall of large publicly traded companies in the early 2000’s, there has been a heightened awareness of bad ethical behavior of accountants and the impact it can have on the economy. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was enacted as a reaction to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals. These scandals cost investors billions of dollars when these companies collapsed. It is obvious that accountants need to be educated on ethics, but there is an ongoing debate about how ethics classes should be incorporated, and who should be required to teach the classes.
Some believe that there should be a separate course specifically for ethics required by all accounting majors (Swanson, 2005; Bernardi and Bean, 2006). While others believe that there should be incremental parts added to certain classes that are already required (Armstrong, 1993; Madison and Schmidt, 2006; Hurtt and Thomas, 2008; Esmond-kiger, 2004). Some claim that it’s not the amount of ethics courses taken, rather the way the classes are taught and who is teaching them (Esmond-kiger, 2004; Hurtt and Thomas, 2008; Liu, Yao, and Hu, 2012). Scholars present an abundance of quality evidence in support of their claims. Those who promote additional course requirements in ethics claim that the goal is to get accounting students more exposure to ethics prior to graduating (Hurtt & Thomas, 2008). Studies show that students who have taken an ethical course tend to have: an awareness of the consequences of their actions, theories that help them define ethical arguments, and abilities to think through issues when they have less time to ponder alternatives (Swanson, 2005; Bernardi & Bean, 2006). Those who have not taken an ethical course tend to lack the proper education and make the wrong decisions, when it comes to ethical dilemmas. Swanson (2005) believes that the stand-alone approach maybe be better because the integration approach could place a burden on faculty member. Others see adding courses would only increase the difficulty of an already difficult degree; it also might not be the best way for students to understand ethics pertaining to accounting ( Bernardi & Bean, 2006; Esmond-Kiger, 2004; Madison & Schmidt, 2006). Students that wish to sit for the CPA exam already have to have 150 hours, and some think adding an additional course would be too much for the students. Studies show that most instructors prefer the integration of ethics across a variety of courses, rather than to cover ethics in a separate stand-alone course (Hurtt &Thomas, 2008; Armstrong, 1993). Madison & Schmiet (2006) claim that it is more financially expedient to teach the subject of ethics within the confines of existing classes, rather than develop and require an additional ethics class. Some insist that it’s not just how ethics should be taught, but who should teach them (Hurtt & Thomas,