Class Spotlight: Intermediate Accounting

Intermediate Accounting–every time I hear these words, I can feel a chill going down my spine. It is probably the most challenging class I have taken in my life; yet, even though I spend some sleepless nights trying to unravel the concepts of Intermediate Accounting, I still find myself enjoying the class. So what is it about this class that makes it intimidating yet enthralling at the same time?

Professor Lisa Koonce
Professor Lisa Koonce

ACC 380K.1 is the Intermediate Accounting class that every MPA student takes. Some MBA students also take the class under a different course number, ACC 380D, but the content is basically the same. The course focuses mainly on examining issues in financial reporting and how these issues affect investor’s and creditor’s decision-making. We learn how to form conclusions about the company’s operations based on the information they provided on their financial statements. Furthermore, this class teaches you how to use basic accounting concepts and principles on a larger scale and in a real-world perspective, which makes the course more complex and challenging. As the accounting industry shifts to the adoption of IFRS, we also learn how these accounting applications would differ upon the official implementation of IFRS.

Students are evaluated based on three exams that are very challenging, homework assignments, and team cases, which engage students in using concepts we learn in class and accounting standards to solve issues that have no conclusive answers.

Professor Lisa Koonce makes class discussion interesting by providing us with examples derived from an actual company’s financial statements. She has taught the course almost every year that she has been at UT. According to Professor Koonce, “The real challenge [in teaching the course] is that we go quickly, so [my] goal is to give the essence of the topic in a short time period, enough so that students can work problems on their own and come to really ‘appreciate’ the topic.”

Professor Koonce thinks that the hardest topic in the course is “Deferred Taxes–it’s the difference between two sets of rules (GAAP and tax) over multiple time periods.  So differences of differences.” As a student, every topic in the course is challenging. I try to study the topic we just went over in class every weekend, go through all the examples, and work on at least a couple of problems. For exams, I work on the additional problems that Professor Koonce has provided in our course packet. Working out these problems is really helpful, because they are structured similar to problems on the test. As what Professor Koonce said, the key to success in this class is “working hard.” And it truly helps to ask classmates if you don’t understand a concept discussed in class.

Prior to taking the class, I thought that merely looking at a company’s net income would indicate its performance. Halfway through the semester, I have comprehended that most business transactions are not explicitly stated on the financial statements. One has to dig deeper and look at every detail to form a big picture and have a clearer perspective of how a company operates. Because of the class, I now have more admiration for the accounting profession. Accountants truly work hard to assure the transparency of the statements provided by companies to help investors and creditors make the best economic decisions.

Professor Koonce’s goal for students to take away from the course is “a better appreciation for the complexity of business and business transactions. The accounting follows, of course, but I think I teach as much about business transactions that students knew nothing or little about before they entered the course, as I do accounting.”

Halfway through the course, I can attest that this has been true.  🙂

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