Critical Thinking in Professional Accounting Practice: Conceptions of Employers and Practitioners

Samantha Sin, Alan Jones, Zijian Wang

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Over the past three decades or so it has become commonplace to lament the failure of universities to equip accounting graduates with the attributes and skills or abilities required for professional accounting practice, particularly as the latter has had to adapt to the demands of a rapidly changing business environment. With the aid of academics, professional accounting bodies have developed lists of competencies, skills, and attributes considered necessary for successful accounting practice. Employers have on the whole endorsed these lists. In this way “critical thinking” has entered the lexicon of both accountants and their employers, and when employers are asked to rank a range of named competencies in order of importance, critical thinking or some roughly synonymous term is frequently ranked highly, often at the top or near the top of their list of desirables (see, for example, Albrecht and Sack 2000). Although practical obstacles, such as content-focused curricula, have emerged to the inclusion of critical thinking as a learning objective in tertiary-level accounting courses, the presence of these obstacles has not altered “the collective conclusion from the accounting profession that critical thinking skills are a prerequisite for a successful accounting career and that accounting educators should assist students in the development of these skills” (Young and Warren 2011, 859). However, a problem that has not yet been widely recognized may lie in the language used to survey accountants and their employers, who may not be comfortable or familiar with the abstract and technicalized pedagogical discourse, for instance, the use of the phrase “developing self-regulating critical reflective capacities for sustainable feedback,” in which much skills talk is couched. Keywords: Critical Thinking, Generic Skill, Critical Thinking Skill, Professional Account, Certified Public Accountant
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education
    Editors M Davies, R Barnett
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
    ISBN (Print)9781137378033
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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