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Concept Mapping—an Empirical Study in Introductory Financial Accounting


  • Bruce Leauby
  • Kathryn Szabat
  • Jayne Maas


The AICPA's Core Competency Framework advocates a skills-based curriculum, based on the rapidly expanding body of knowledge in accounting and developing preferred skills for succeeding in the accounting profession. To address this concern, concept mapping is experimentally used in an introductory financial accounting course. Concept mapping is a learning tool involving a process of externalizing, through drawing and diagrams, the mental connections and association patterns students make on knowledge learned. Widely used in other disciplines, prior research suggests concept mapping develops more complete and organized knowledge structures, leading to more meaningful learning and higher-order thinking skills. This study tests the hypothesis that student learning in an introductory financial accounting course increases, as measured by examination scores, when traditional methods of instruction are supplemented by concept mapping activities. Extraneous variables, such as gender, SAT scores, major, and extra-credit work are tested validating no differences in the control and experimental groups potentially contributing to differences in learning outcomes. The results of the study show no statistically significant evidence supporting the stated hypothesis. A survey administered to the experimental group shows that concept mapping provides a positive student experience and is a useful learning tool. Two significant results arise from the survey response: (1) concept mapping is rated as a valuable learning tool by good concept map creators; and (2) better students indicate a preference for mapping software rather than creating maps manually.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Leauby & Kathryn Szabat & Jayne Maas, 2010. "Concept Mapping—an Empirical Study in Introductory Financial Accounting," Accounting Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 279-300.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:accted:v:19:y:2010:i:3:p:279-300
    DOI: 10.1080/09639280903412334

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