Evidence of improvement in accounting students' communication skills

Elaine Evans*, Dawn Cable

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: With large numbers of overseas students enrolled in university accounting courses in Australia, there is a growing trend in the postgraduate accounting courses to approach the problem of language and communication difficulties by offering discipline-specific language training through an embedded curriculum approach in collaboration with English language specialists. This raises a general question about the nature of evidence required to demonstrate that students' professional language skills have been enhanced by these interdisciplinary programs. The paper aims to address the basic question: what evidence is available about the effectiveness of programs that align English language with disciplinary teaching? Design/methodology/approach: The purpose of the paper is to review existing research to discover the nature of evidence that is available to address the effectiveness of programs that align English language with disciplinary teaching. Findings: In the area of accounting research, it is very difficult to unbundle the effects of improvement in communication skills from improved understanding of discipline content. Research limitations/implications: At a subject level, language interventions could pay more attention to the attributes of "good" evidence, while at a program level a suite of data sources may support a persuasive argument for improvement in students' communication skills. Practical implications: If associations between integration and language improvement can be established through quantitative and qualitative research methods and reliable evidence for this can be presented to educational policy makers, then interdisciplinary approaches may be seen as valid alternatives to the more readily available (and cheaper) "bolt-on programs" at university-wide levels, where language support is given separately from discipline content. Originality/value: The research addressed the question of whether there is evidence of the effectiveness of initiatives that align English language with disciplinary teaching in accounting. The answer is "yes". It was gathered from a variety of research methods including experimentation, use of available data, diagnostic tests and self reporting by students and staff. What is apparent from the collected evidence is the effectiveness of interdisciplinary approaches that integrate language support and accounting content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-327
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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