"The Source"

MSCPA's Newsletter
for
Missouri's Educators

 
 
NOVEMBER 2013

Volume 3 Issue 1 
 
 


PEER TO PEER

"CONVERTING STUDENT ORGANIZATION SERVICE PROJECTS TO MARKETABLE SERVICE LEARNING EXPERIENCES" By Traci Hodges

Many students pursue internships to gain real world experience, and may write a paper or develop an internship portfolio for credit. However, students often appear to struggle making meaningful connections between their internship work experience and their academic training. This problem might be due in large part to the traditional reporting structure in internships, which feature intern participants reporting to one or more internship advisors. Students do not often report extensive collaboration with peer interns during their internship experience. Research has shown that such peer collaboration can be an especially rich aspect of the development process. "Some students find it easier to integrate experience with prior knowledge when interacting with their peers, especially those with similar or shared experiences"
(McDonald, 2013, p. 11). There are few companies that have extensive internship programs that include peer collaboration, but there are many students who do not receive this opportunity.

Faculty advisors of student organizations can also help students to make these key connections between their academic training and real world experience via service learning experiences. As a faculty advisor for Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), I value the service learning community the student organization has created for accounting, finance, and information systems students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). BAP is an international honor organization that encourages student chapters to develop and deliver programming that enhances career development and service learning opportunities.

Student competitions are hosted that encourage students to develop innovative projects within their chapter. The competitions provide an opportunity to expand the community service project to a service learning experience. Students are required to develop learning outcomes and conduct assessment of the results. It provides an opportunity for reflection, and this is a great opportunity for faculty interaction as students process the experience. This reflection is helpful as students enhance their marketability to employers. "In cover letters and interviews when students make connections between their internship, or service-learning project, and their curricular learning, employers will better understand the educational value of the experience"
(McDonald, 2013, p. 19).

Service learning projects provide real world application of accounting concepts. Our chapter has provided cash management assistance for local charity fundraising events, volunteer income tax assistance to low income taxpayers, and an internal control review for a not for profit organization. Students are able to deepen their understanding of accounting concepts and have real experience as a context of learning.

Our chapter conducted an internal control review as a service learning project, and the students decided to use the project as a context for the best practices competition on writing. The student leaders of the project developed learning outcomes, reflected on their experience, and highlighted what they learned about the writing process. The students presented their project at the regional conference, and are preparing for the national level of the competition, which is this month. The reflection process provided a high level of peer and faculty collaboration.

Beta Alpha Psi is a great model for other student organizations. I encourage faculty members to help other academic student organizations convert community service projects into service learning experiences. "As faculty advisors, we need to encourage constant, guided reflection...Verbally sharing the experiences and exchanging reactions and questions with other students provides an opportunity to reconsider assumptions and offer yet another outlet for reflection"
(McDonald, 2013, p. 13). I truly enjoy this part of my experience as a faculty advisor. The dialogue is engaging and inspiring to me to continue to seek these types of service learning experiences for my students.

Michael K. McDonald, "Internships, Service Learning, and Study Aboard: Helping Students Integrate Learning Across Multiple Experiences," in From Service-Learning to Civic and Political Engagement, eds. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Elizabeth A Bennion, and Dick Simpson, American Political Science Association: Washington, D.C., forthcoming 2013.

HodgesPhoto.jpg
About the Author: Traci Hodges is an Accounting Lecturer and Beta Alpha Psi Faculty Advisor for UMSL. Traci is a licensed CPA in Missouri, and has a Masters Degree in Counseling and Adult Education. She is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at UMSL. Traci has experience in career counseling, public accounting, and internal auditing.


COMPLIMENTARY EDUCATOR MEMBERSHIP
MSCPA's Board of Directors has approved complimentary MSCPA Educator Membership for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

What does this mean for you? Full MSCPA benefits and privileges. What are they? Here are just a few:

* Expand your knowledge. Participate in the MSCPA's high-quality professional development offerings, which are designed in a variety of formats to meet every learning preference and scheduling need;

* Stay current on the profession. Read our daily Business Intelligence Briefing to better understand the impact world events might have on the profession;

* Build your network. Your local chapter provides many opportunities for connection through short educational courses, social events, and community outreach;

* Sustain the profession's future. MSCPA is working to bridge the gap between the needs of college accounting programs in Missouri and the staffing requirements of local firms and companies, as well as addressing the disparities in representation of minorities in the profession.

All educators, currently in our database, have been given this complimentary membership. If you know of a fellow educator, who isn't already a member, pass this newsletter on. Here is a link to the MSCPA Educator Program Form.

Thank you for all you do!



HIGHLIGHTED ITEMS

Ambassador Program
One of the oldest, and most successful, programs of the LEAP initiative has been our Ambassador program. It originally started as an outreach to elementary students. Today, it has grown to include college and universities. CPA Ambassadors visit classrooms to talk about the profession, what it takes to become a CPA, and much more. If you are interested in having an Ambassador visit your classroom, please contact me at 800.264.7966, ext. 155, or send me an email lthoms@mocpa.org.

LEAP Website
The LEAP website, www.leap-forward.com, has numerous items of interest for educators: Educators' Resources-We invite you to contribute to the resources on this page. If you have any items, or suggestions to improve this information for your fellow educators, please fill out the Contact Us FormCampus Scene-Under LEAP's Reel News-is dedicated to recognizing the achievements of Missouri colleges and universities. If your school has won an award or received an honor, please tell us about it. Fill out the Contact Us Form. Please include the source and website address (if applicable); Student of the Month/Year-Do you know a Missouri accounting major who deserves recognition for his/her achievements and leadership? Nominate him/her for the MSCPA Student of the Month award! Here is a direct link to the Nomination Form. MSCPA Student of the Year-One winner will be chosen from the twelve (12) monthly winners from 2013/2014, and he/she will be featured in an article in the 2014 September "ASSET," which is the bi-monthly publication sent to all MSCPA members, and recognized at an MSCPA banquet.

MAAE Conference
Registration is now open for the 2013 MAAE 43rd Annual Conference November 8-9, 2013 at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Lake of the Ozarks. Join your fellow educators for this two-day conference to network and discuss the latest learning trends and challenges. Don't delay---register today! Here is the link to the registration form: 2013 MAAE Conference Registration Form.
 

EDITOR'S NOTE:

I want to thank Traci Hodges for the wonderful article in this month's Peer to Peer segment. I have personally had the privilege to see Traci's interactions with her students in UMSL's BAP chapter. She is truly devoted, which makes her extremely effective in relating to her students. They in turn are very attentive to her suggestions and leadership. I encourage you to reach out to her regarding service projects for your student organizations!

Lisa Thoms

Accounting Careers Manager
Missouri Society of CPAs
800.264.7966, ext. 155