New Technology Initiative

USC Leventhal faculty to assess curriculum and ramp up tech component

November 14, 2016

It’s no longer enough to be on top of the latest requirements for the CPA exam. These days, accountants-in-training need to be tech savvy as well.

A newly formed technology committee is working this year with the Leventhal Curriculum Committee to ensure that undergraduate and graduate students are well-versed in the latest accounting industry technology.

Andrew Tinseth ’94, MBA ’05, assistant professor of clinical accounting at Leventhal, chairs the technology committee, comprised of faculty members Rose Layton, Julie Suh, Lori Smith, Tom Ryan and Bob Kiddoo. Layton, who chairs the Leventhal Curriculum Committee, is leading the effort to implement changes for each course. In addition, Dan O’Leary, who recently received the Outstanding Research Award from the Strategic and Emerging Technologies Section of the American Accounting Association, is responsible for the technology components of the Master of Accounting curriculum and will also work with the team on that program.

“The good news is, we’re doing a great job teaching our students from an accounting curriculum standpoint,” said Tinseth. “We are also doing a good job supporting those lessons with various IT applications and tools. But we can always do more to make sure our curriculum keeps up with the changes in technology.”

A Full Audit

The project plan takes a three-step approach that will involve a semester-by-semester analysis of the curriculum. First the committee will communicate with stakeholders such as the Board of Advisors and key hiring firms, including the Big Four and national and regional firms to answer the question, “What are the proficiencies our students should have upon entering their careers?” Second, the committee will conduct a school capability analysis, and finally, they will assess the findings to reveal any gaps in the curriculum.

The technology committee will be reviewing all of the core accounting classes over the next year and a half, but some curriculum changes are already in the works, starting with core requirements for all business majors: BUAD 280 (financial accounting) and 281 (managerial accounting). Assistant Professor Suh has designed Excel exercises for labs that all students complete in these introductory courses. Later accounting courses will build on those Excel skills, and introduce more advanced concepts and tools such as data visualization and analytics over very large data sets (big data analytics).

The committee plans to meet with USC Marshall business analytics faculty during its class-by-class analysis, Tinseth said.

“Big data is a major topic in accounting today,” he said. “We need to prepare our students to understand and appreciate the value of these large data sets and prepare our students to unlock their potential with the available sophisticated analysis tools.”