Developing Critical Thinking Skills In The Intermediate Accounting Class: Using Simulations With Rubrics

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Karen T. Cascini
Anne J. Rich


critical thinking skills, accounting, rubrics


A challenge of paramount importance facing college professors today is the development of students’ capacity for critical thinking skills.  While this has long been an area of focused activity for educators, since the early 1980s in particular, it has become clear that critical thinking skills are essential to the ability of our students to compete globally. As teachers and professors at all levels have begun to focus greater attention on ways to develop critical thinking skills, we see the same trend reflected within the accounting profession. Research by Kealy (2005), Bonk (1998), Wolcott (1997), Kimmel (1995), and  Doney (1993)  demonstrates this interest among accounting faculty for students at both introductory and advanced levels. This paper defines critical thinking and explores tools that currently exist to develop the critical thinking skills of accounting students. Two particular tools, simulations and rubrics, are examined closely. This paper reports the results of a research study designed to assess the usefulness of rubrics, when combined with a simulation exercise, in an intermediate accounting class and its direct relationship to critical thinking skills related to performing analyses. While the use of the rubric did not appear to make a difference in the ability of students to perform complex analyses and draw conclusions in simulation exercise, the results of this research study highlight the need for accounting educators to continue to explore ways to develop strategies for improving students’ critical thinking skills.


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