Motivating students to prepare for class and engage in discussion using the hot seat

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  • Motivating students to prepare for class and engagein discussion using the h

    Kathleen A. Bentley a,*,1, Peter Ca Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, UbDepartment of Accountancy, Miami University, Oxfo

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Keywords:Student engagementActive learningTeaching innovation

    Student engagement is important to accounting educators for a variety of reasons. First, theaccounting accreditation process places a strong emphasis on pedagogical issues such as student

    * Corresponding author.E-mail addresses: (K.A. Bentley), (P.C. Brewer), (T.V.

    Eaton).1 Doctoral student.

    J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

    J. of Acc. Ed.0748-5751/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.dents during class as enrollments grow (Litke, 1995). This lack ofinteraction makes it more difcult to engage students in the learn-ing process. This article describes a teaching approach, called thehot seat, that overcomes these challenges by motivating studentsto prepare for class and engage in the learning process during class.Assessment data suggest that students valued the instructorscommitment to high-quality instruction and that they believedthe hot-seat approach accomplished its intended objectives ofincreasing student preparation, participation, and learning.

    2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    1. IntroductionLarge class sizesdoi:10.1016/j.jaccedu.2010.07.001ot seat

    . Brewer b, Tim V. Eaton b

    nited Statesrd, OH 45056, United States

    a b s t r a c t

    Accounting accreditation standards place a strong emphasis onstudent engagement in the learning process (AACSB (AA) Accredi-tation Toolkit, 2009; The Association to Advance Collegiate Schoolsof Business (AACSB), 2009). However, budget constraints at manyuniversities are creating larger class sizes, thereby complicatingthe student-engagement process in two respects. First, it is difcultfor professors to motivate students to prepare for class when thestudents perceive a small probability of being held individuallyaccountable for reading assigned materials. Second, it becomesharder for professors to have one-on-one interactions with stu-Teaching and Educational note

    journal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate/ jaccedu

  • engagement. The AACSB emphasizes that without the intentional engagement of students little, if any,

    The article is divided into four sections. The rst section reviews the literature supporting the

    2. Literature review

    156 K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167This section is divided into two parts. First, we discuss how students can benet if they prepare forclass and engage in class discussion. Second, we examine the current state of student behavior withrespect to preparing for class and engaging in class discussion. The evidence suggests that, too often,lack of preparation and engagement prevents students from learning as much as they could.

    2.1. Benets of preparation and engagement

    Phillips and Phillips (2007) analyzed the reading strategies of introductory accounting students andfound that those who read the textbook prior to its coverage in class better understood key concepts.These same students also found key learning objectives to be more interesting than students who didnot read the textbook prior to class. These ndings are consistent with McKeachie and Hofer (2002),who found that students learn better by reading the textbook prior to class because the textbook givesthem a structured frame of reference for comprehending the professors lesson plan.

    Preparing for class also enhances participation during class time. Valde (1997) studied 339 stu-dents across ve different psychology courses and found that students who read the textbook beforeclass and completed a reading reaction assignment were ready to participate extensively in class.Chizmar (2005) found, in an introductory statistics course, that linking Good Faith Effort (GFE) assign-ments to student grades enhanced participation and increased student learning. As Chizmar (2005)explains, GFE assignments require students to learn basic concepts by reading the textbook beforeclass, thereby enabling professors to dedicate more class time to teaching higher-level concepts.

    Research also indicates that students have longer attention spans and learn more when lecture-only classes are replaced by classes involving active learning techniques that encourage students to

    1 In 2009, anecdotal cases of increased class sizes continue to be reported. See for example, Class size increases, fewer sectionsassertion that the learning process is enhanced if students prepare for class and engage in class dis-cussion. This section also summarizes available data regarding the extent to which students actuallyprepare for class and engage in class discussions. The second section describes the design of the hot-seat teaching methodology. The third section summarizes the assessment data, and the nal section ofthe paper offers concluding comments.learningwill take place (57) and accreditation standard 14 requires educators to provide evidence thatstudents engage the learning materials with appropriate attention and dedication (57) (AACSB (AA)Accreditation Toolkit. 2009; The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), 2009).Second, we observe that students appear to participate more in class if they are better prepared forclass. This is also conrmed by prior research, which suggests that students participate more duringclass when they prepare for class (Chizmar, 2005; McKeachie & Hofer, 2002; Phillips & Phillips,2007; Valde, 1997). Yet, in spite of these ndings, there are indications that many students do not ade-quately prepare for class or engage in class discussions (Burcheld & Sappington, 2000; Clump, Bauer, &Bradley, 2004; Clump & Doll, 2007; McKeachie & Hofer, 2002; Phillips & Phillips, 2007). To complicatematters further, the recent economic downturn has resulted in budget cuts for many universities at atimewhen college enrollments are expected to grow substantially. As class sizes increase due to budgetconstraints and a growing student population it becomes evenmore difcult to employ teachingmeth-odologies that engage students in the learning process (Hill, 1998; Litke, 1995).1

    This article presents a teaching method called the hot seat that was used to teach Principles of Man-agerial Accounting for four consecutive semesters to a total of six class sections having enrollments as highas90studentsandas lowas55students.Thehot seatwasdesignedtomotivatestudents toprepare forclassand engage in class discussion. Assessment data from 277 students shows that they perceive this educa-tional intervention as a useful technique for increasing their preparation, participation, and learning.available

  • the time in between is characterized by a signicant decrease in focus. Conversely, McKeachie andHofer (2002) reviewed a large number of studies and found that students exposed to interactive

    ately prior to exams, but exhibit less effort when the next exam is not imminent. Clump et al. (2004)found that undergraduate psychology students completed 70% of assigned readings before class when

    an examwas imminent, compared to the 27% cited earlier when an examwas not on the horizon. Sim-ilarly, Phillips and Phillips (2007) noted an increase to over 90% of students referring to or reading thetextbook prior to an exam, compared to the 17% gure cited earlier. These ndings suggest that moststudents attempt to cram for exams rather than preparing for class on a consistent basis over theentire semester.

    In conclusion, prior research shows that students reap benets by consistently preparing for classand engaging in classroom discussion. Unfortunately, research also suggests that these optimal stu-dent behaviors are less than prevalent. The next section discusses a teaching methodology designedto close the gap between actual and optimal student behavior.

    3. The hot-seat teaching methodology

    The setting for this educational intervention is a public midwestern university with an enrollmentdiscussion methods in place of standard lectures exhibited retention of information after the endof a course; transfer of knowledge to new situations; development of problem-solving [skills] . . .and motivation for further learning (5253).

    OLoughlin (2002) reports in an anatomy class that interactive learning activities created more ac-tive student engagement, resulted in improvement in students exam and overall course scores, andimproved the instructors teaching performance (29). OMeara (2007) notes that faculty in the sci-ence, math, and engineering elds that replaced traditional lectures with active learning strategiesperceived that their students were enjoying class more, were more open to learning, were participat-ing more, and were acquiring more learning skills (108).

    2.2. Current state of student preparation and engagement behavior

    While the evidence shows that students benet by preparing for class and engaging in classroomdiscussions, the reality is that all too often students in both business and non-business courses do notexhibit these behaviors (Burcheld & Sappington, 2000; Clump & Doll, 2007; Clump et al., 2004;McKeachie & Hofer, 2002; Phillips & Phillips, 2007). In fact a study of introductory accounting studentsconducted by Phillips and Phillips (2007) found that students read only 17% of the textbook chaptersincluded on the syllabus before the corresponding concepts were discussed in class. Furthermore, thepercentage of students reading prior to class declined as the semester progressed. Phillips and Phillips(2007) also noted that although some academically strong students read the textbook with the inten-tion of understanding the material, a much larger percentage of students used a skimming strategythat involved merely turning pages to reduce anxiety. These ndings share a common theme withMcKeachie and Hofer (2002) who also found that students are more likely to skim over textbookmate-rial rather than investing the time required to truly understand what they are reading.

    Clump et al. (2004) found that undergraduate psychology students completed only 27% of the as-signed readings prior to class. Clump and Doll (2007) found that graduate psychology students readonly 54.21% of the text prior to class. Burcheld and Sappington (2000) found a downward trend from1981 to 1997 in the class-preparation habits of psychology students. They found the least amount ofpreparation done in entry-level undergraduate classesstudents reading only 24.5% of assigned mate-rial prior to its coverage in class.

    Research also supports the anecdotal perception that students prepare for class diligently immedi-participate in class discussions. Bonwell and Eison (1991) and Nilson (2003) summarize researchinvolving undergraduate and medical students that suggests students enrolled in traditional lectureclasses are attentive for the rst 1015 min of class and the last few minutes of a class; however,

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 157of approximately 16,000 students and 200 accounting graduates a year. Approximately 37% of this

  • universitys enrolled students were in the top 10% of their high school class and approximately 71%were in the top 25% of their high school class (US News & World Report, 2010, p. 238).

    In the fall 2004 semester, one of the authors was asked to teach two Principles of ManagerialAccounting classes, each having an initial enrollment of 90 students. The classes met twice a weekfor 75-minute periods over 15 weeks. The syllabus included two 75-minute midterm exams adminis-tered during class and a comprehensive 2-hour nal exam. The large enrollment of students, coupledwith the sizable auditorium classroom, suggested the need to rely on PowerPoint slides as the primaryteaching medium. Given the authors disinterest in traditional lecturing, he created the hot-seat meth-odology to translate his PowerPoint slides from a lecture-oriented teaching tool to a medium thatwould motivate students to prepare for class and engage in classroom discussions.

    3.1. Dening the educational intervention

    The hot-seat intervention will be explained in a six-step process. The rst step in the process was tocreate a grading scheme that would motivate student interest in the hot-seat methodology and toclearly communicate it to students on the rst day of class. The professor told his students on the rstday of class that the raw exam means (two midterm exams and a comprehensive nal exam) werelikely to be in the 6269% range. However, the syllabus stated that, aside from the hot-seat bonuspoint system, all exam means below 70% would automatically be curved to 70%.

    The professor explained that students needed to choose one of two study-habit strategies for theremainder of the semester. The rst option would be to disregard the hot-seat bonus point system,in effect embracing the status quo of cramming for exams the night before the test. If students selectedthis option and bypassed all bonus point opportunities, the professor suggested that it was highlylikely that their nal class average would be 70%, which translates to a grade point average of approx-imately 1.902.10 for the class as a whole. The second option was to prepare for class on a daily basis,in effect embracing the hot-seat bonus point system. The professor explained that if students em-braced the hot-seat method, the earned bonus points had the potential to raise the 70% average to7778%, which translates to a grade point average of approximately 2.502.70. This discussion onthe rst day of class motivated students to embrace the hot-seat method.

    The second component of the hot-seat intervention relates to designing the syllabus, which isorganized into ve modules of ve class sessions each. The rst two sessions of each module coverthe rst of two chapters within the module. The next two sessions cover the second chapter of themodule. The fth session reviews the two chapters included in the module. The students have hot-seataccountability on the rst 4 days of each module and no hot-seat accountability on the review day.The modular approach coupled with dedicating some class periods to administering examsmeans thatstudents have about 20 hot-seat class periods during the semester.

    The third aspect of the hot-seat method relates to creating lesson plans. The syllabus species text-book reading assignments that are due for each hot-seat class session. The professor creates a Power-Point lesson plan for each hot-seat class session. The lesson plan is designed to enable 45 min of hot-seat interaction and 30 min of dialogue unrelated to the hot seat that focuses on key concepts andproblem-solving. The hot-seat portion of each PowerPoint lesson plan includes four to seven hot-seatquestions related to the assigned reading followed by slides that explain the answer to each question.Fig. 1 contains ten examples of hot-seat questions.

    The fourth step in the process is to execute the hot-seat method during class. Prior to arriving in theclassroom, the professor randomly selects one student for each hot-seat question included in the les-son plan. The class begins with the professor inviting the randomly chosen students to come down tothe front row of the auditorium (in smaller classes students can remain in their seats). If a randomlyselected student is not in attendance, then the professor randomly chooses another student to replacethe absent student. The professor then asks the rst of these students to come forward to a table andchair (the actual hot seat) in front of the class. The professor reveals the rst hot-seat question con-tained in the PowerPoint le and asks the student sitting in the hot seat to answer the question with-out aid from other students. If the student answers the question correctly, the professor reviews thecorrect answer for the whole class and then invites the next student from the front row to occupy the

    158 K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167hot seat for the next question. If the rst student invited to the hot seat answers incorrectly, then

  • Definitional:

    1. What are the definitions of variable and fixed costs?

    2. How do you compute the breakeven point in units sold?

    3. What are the headings, in sequential order, for a contribution-format income statement?

    4. How do you compute a direct materials price variance?

    5. How do you compute residual income?


    Given the numerical fact scenario on the PowerPoint slide:

    6. How would you compute the cost of goods manufactured?

    7. How much cash is projected to be collected in the month of June?

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 159another student is randomly chosen from the audience to answer the question. If the student in theaudience answers the question correctly, then the professor reviews the correct answer and proceedsto the next question. If the student in the audience answers incorrectly, the professor reviews the cor-rect answer and proceeds to the next question. This process is repeated until all hot-seat questionshave been completed.

    The fth step is to score the hot-seat performance each day to determine if the class as a wholeearned or failed to earn the available bonus. The class earns one point for each question answered cor-rectly by a hot-seat participant and one-half of a point for each question answered correctly by stu-dents in the audience who were randomly chosen to answer questions missed by hot-seatparticipants. The total points earned each day are added up and divided by the number of hot-seatquestions included in the lesson plan. If the score exceeds 50%, then each student enrolled in the classearns a bonus that is added to his/her total number of points earned during the semester. The bonus isawarded to all enrolled students rather than only attending students to eliminate the administrativeburden of taking daily attendance. The attendance policy described later in the paper (see Section3.2.1.) motivated the overwhelming majority of students to regularly attend class.

    The nal step in the process is to incorporate the earned bonus points into the students nal coursegrades. In the hot-seat classes, the students earned each days available bonus 7595% of the time. Thishigh success rate was intentional because it provided positive reinforcement that builds commitmentto the practice of preparing for class on a daily basis. If any given class would have earned 100% of allavailable bonus points, it would have been sufcient to increase the performance of all enrolled stu-dents by approximately 7.5% (or, three-fourths of one-letter grade). For example, in the fall 2004semester, the bonus system raised all exam means (and therefore all individual student exam scores)in one section by approximately 6% points (indicating this class earned the available bonus in 80% of

    8. How much will profits increase or decrease if the company accepts the special order?

    9. What is the inventoriable cost per unit in year one using absorption costing?

    10. What is the amount of the direct labor rate variance?

    Fig. 1. Examples of hot-seat questions.

  • the hot-seat class sessions, or 67.5 = 80%). In the other section, the bonus system raised all exammeans by about 7% points (indicating this class earned the available bonus in about 93% of the hot-seatclass sessions, or 77.5 = 93%). Because the students earned the large majority of available bonuspoints, each students two midterm exam scores and nal exam score were raised by 6% points inone class section and approximately 7% points in the other. If these students had rejected the hot-seatbonus point system, their sections exam mean would have remained at 70% and each students examscores would not have been raised by 67% points.

    3.2. Implementation guidance

    Fig. 2 summarizes 11 keys to successful implementation of the hot-seat methodology. Each of thesesteps is discussed below.

    3.2.1. Have an attendance policyThe professor needs to create an attendance policy that motivates students to come to class; other-

    wise, students can regularly skip class and still receive all hot-seat bonus points. For example, in the

    1. Create an attendance policy that motivates students to come to class.

    2. Allow students to create handwritten notes summarizing key concepts from the assigned readings and to use those notes as an aid in answering hot-seat questions.

    3. Create hot-seat questions that are easy enough to enable reasonably well-prepared students to earn the bonus points for the class almost all the time.

    4. The bonus point system should be applied uniformly to all enrolled students.

    5. The hot seat should only be used to raise grades, thereby allowing individual students the opportunity to earn a given grade based on their own performance without the aid of the team-based bonus points.

    6. The hot-seat bonus points must have the potential to substantially raise student grades.

    160 K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 1551677. Organize the course into two-chapter modules, thereby ensuring that every fifth day the students are given a break from hot-seat accountability.

    8. The hot seat should not be used for entire class periods. Students want to perceive that the professor is actively teaching them key concepts for at least 30 minutes per hot-seat class period.

    9. The professor should work tirelessly to drive out fear and intimidation.

    10. The professor should make the hot-seat process fun for students by occasionally using creative hot-seat methods (e.g., such as tag-team hot seat where two students can work together in the hot seat, or all-star hot seat where students can self-select to participate in the hot seat).

    11. The professor should feel free to modify the hot-seat method to meet his/her specific needs. Fig. 2. Implementation guidance.

  • fall 2004 semester, each student was allowed two pre-arranged absences from class for any reason.More important, the students intent to miss class had to be documented via an email received priorto the start of class or a voicemail time stamped before the start of class. When students pre-arrangedtheir absence, they were immune from hot-seat participation. However, if students were randomly

    3.2.2. Allow use of notes in the hot seat

    3.2.3. Create relatively easy hot-seat questions

    may decide that preparing for class is useless because they are not going to be able to correctly answer

    not deprive their classmates of bonus points.

    points. This format enables the professor to market the hot seat as a learning tool that rewards stu-

    3.2.7. Organize the course in two-chapter modules

    3.2.8. Use the hot seat only part of the class period

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 161The hot seat should not be used for entire class periods. Although students typically value the hotseat as a learning tool, it is also important for them to perceive that the professor is actively teachingkey concepts for a portion of each class period.

    2 Professors can use discretion when dening an attendance policy; however, the severity of the penalty needs to provide astrong incentive to attend class. Another option is to eliminate the penalty-oriented approach and instead only award bonus pointsto attending students rather than all enrolled students. This requires taking daily attendance which can be time-consuming inlarger classes. Using clickers to take attendance can be too easily gamed by students, thereby providing invalid feedback regardingWithin each module, dedicate 1 day to reviewing the two chapters that compose the module. Stu-dents should not have hot-seat accountability on the review day. This gives students occasional breaksfrom the rigors of intensive daily preparation.dents if they are willing to prepare for class.

    3.2.6. Give the hot-seat points the potential to substantially raise gradesThe hot-seat bonus points must have the potential to substantially raise student grades. If students

    perceive that the educational intervention does not materially affect their grade, then they will not beas likely to be motivated to prepare for class (Chizmar, 2005; Tuckman, 1996).3.2.5. Use the hot-seat points as bonus points onlyThe hot seat should only be used to raise grades, thereby allowing individual students the oppor-

    tunity to earn a given grade based on their own performance without the aid of the team-based bonusthe questions regardless of their level of effort.

    3.2.4. Give bonus points to the entire classThe bonus points earned should be applied uniformly to all enrolled students. This team-based ap-

    proach creates productive peer pressure that motivates students to prepare for class so that they doThe hot-seat questions should be easy enough to enable reasonably well-prepared students to earnthe bonus points almost all of the time. The goal is to motivate students to prepare for class. If studentsperceive that their efforts are being rewarded, then they will likely embrace the hot-seat methodologyand prepare for the questions. Conversely, if the questions are perceived as being too difcult, studentsStudents should be allowed to create handwritten notes summarizing key concepts from the as-signed readings and to use those notes as an aid in answering hot-seat questions. By encouraging stu-dents to prepare and use notes for the hot seat, professors positively reinforce this desirable behavior.chosen for the hot seat, but were not in attendance and had not pre-arranged one of their two ab-sences, then they either had to accept a one-letter grade reduction for the course or avoid the lettergrade reduction by writing a 15-page paper on a topic chosen by the professor.2who is truly attending class.

  • 3.2.9. Work to prevent fear and intimidationThe hot seat is not intended to be a fear-based teaching tool. Fear and intimidation should therefore

    162 K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167reduce student anxiety potentially caused by the hot seat, clicker data can be gathered for all hot-seatquestions and the hot-seat scoring process can be delayed until all questions have been asked. Thisapproach enables the professor to keep each hot-seat participants performance condential. The classwill not knowwho answered hot-seat questions correctly or incorrectly, it would only be told the totalnumber of points earned at the end of each days hot-seat questions.

    4. Assessment data

    This section summarizes quantitative and qualitative student evaluation data from six sections ofPrinciples of Managerial Accounting taught over four semesters.

    4.1. Quantitative data

    Table 1 summarizes the results of a three-question survey created and administered to 144students enrolled in Principles of Managerial Accounting. The responses indicate that 100% of thestudents agreed or strongly agreed that the new format of the class (i.e., the hot-seat methodology)provided more motivation to read the assigned material than would a traditional lecture-style class.According to the responses, 88% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that the hot-seat formatmotivated them to participate more in the learning process during class than they would in a lec-ture-style class. Finally, 87% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that the hot seat created moredialogue between themselves and the professor than in a traditional lecture-style class.

    Table 2 summarizes student feedback for 10 of 22 questions included in the standard student eval-uation form used at the authors university.3 The survey relies on a ve-point Likert scale format(0 = strongly disagree; 4 = strongly agree). The rst six columns of the exhibit summarize the averagescores for all ten questions for each of six Principles of Managerial Accounting sections taught usingthe hot-seat intervention. A total of 277 students completed the evaluation form across the six sections

    3 The questions that are omitted from Table 2 did not relate to the teaching innovation being described in this article. Forexample, three omitted questions ask students to evaluate if the instructor was available outside of class, if time with thebe eliminated as much as possible. Students need to be sold on the concept of meeting the professorhalfway. If students commit to the professors recommended approach of daily preparation, then theprofessor gladly rewards this effort with bonus points. The focus needs to be on positive reinforcementrather than inducing stress through intimidation.

    3.2.10. Make the hot-seat process funThe professor should make the hot-seat process fun for students by occasionally using creative hot-

    seat methods such as allowing cell phone life-lines (as seen on the television showWho Wants to bea Millionaire), creating tag-team hot-seat participants, or seeking volunteers for all-star hot-seatparticipation. By making the hot seat a fun rather than stressful experience, students will be morelikely to relax and engage in the process rather than worrying unduly about giving an incorrectanswer.

    3.2.11. Modify the hot-seat process to meet your needsFinally, we encourage faculty at other institutions to modify the hot seat to best meet the needs of

    their specic institutions and individual classes. For example, in smaller classes it may be feasible totake daily attendance and only award hot-seat bonus points to those students in attendance. For pro-fessors with experience using clickers, it may be feasible to involve all students in the hot-seat ques-tion and response process. When the hot-seat participant misses a question, clicker data can be usedto determine if the class earns one-half of a point. For example, if 67% of students answer the hot-seatquestion correctly using clickers, the class would earn one-half of a point. For professors who wish toinstructor outside of class was helpful, and if the exams and assignments were returned within a reasonable amount of time.

  • across all six sections. A weighted average was computed to account for the fact that each section had a

    different number of respondents. The nal three columns of data compare the results to three referencegroups: (1) all Principles of Managerial Accounting sections (including the authors sections) taught dur-ing the four-semester period, (2) all accounting classes (including the authors sections) taught duringthe four-semester period, and (3) all business school classes (including the authors sections) taught dur-ing the four-semester time period.

    The results indicate that the hot-seat section scores for all 10 questions exceed the average scoresfor all Principles of Managerial Accounting sections. All Principles of Managerial Accounting sections,besides the authors sections, did not deploy the hot-seat method. The hot-seat section scores for 9 outof 10 questions were also higher than the corresponding scores for all accounting courses and allschool of business courses taught during the four-semester period. It also bears emphasizing thatthe data in columns 8, 9, and 10 include the authors results, thereby understating the differences be-tween the hot-seat sections and the three reference groups. Broadly speaking, these results suggestthat the hot-seat methodology can be used in the classroom without adversely affecting student eval-uations. More specically, questions 3 and 4 indicate that the hot-seat classes challenged students tothink and helped them learn more than in other classes. Question 7 indicates that outside assign-ments, such as reading assigned material before class, were important to learning.

    4.2. Qualitative datathat were taught over four semesters. The seventh column of Table 2 shows the weighted-average scores

    Table 1Feedback from customized student survey.

    n = 144 students Stronglyagree

    Agree Noopinion

    Disagree Stronglydisagree


    Question 1: The format of this class motivates me to read theassigned material in advance of class to a greater extentthan I would typically do for a standard lecture-formatclass.

    117 27 0 0 0 144(81%) (19%) (0%) (0%) (0%) 100%

    Question 2: The format of this class motivates me toparticipate in the learning process during class to agreater extent than I would in the typical lecture-formatclass

    49 78 10 7 0 144(34%) (54%) (7%) (5%) (0%) 100%

    Question 3: The format of this class creates more dialoguebetween the professor and students during class than inthe typical lecture-format class

    67 59 10 7 1 144(46%) (41%) (7%) (5%) (1%) 100%

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 163Out of a total of 277 students who completed evaluations for the six hot-seat sections, 32% of themreferred to the hot-seat methodology in the written comments included on their evaluation forms. Wereviewed each students qualitative feedback regarding the hot seat and categorized it as supportive ofthe hot-seat approach or opposed to it. Based on this analysis, we found that 66% of students who re-ferred to the hot seat had an entirely favorable impression of this teaching methodology, while an-other 17% of those students expressed both a mix of favorable and unfavorable attributes. Theremaining 17% of students who specically mentioned the hot seat in their evaluations made negativecomments towards the hot-seat approach. However, half of these negative responses mentioned thatthe format of the class altered their behavior in one or more of the following ways: increased theirclass preparation, altered their study habits, increased their timely completion of required readings,or improved their learning. Table 3 highlights 10 negative student comments related to concernsabout the hot seat inducing feelings of anxiety and concerns that the hot-seat approach prohibitedthe professor from adequately explaining the material.

    Table 4 includes 12 comments that capture some of the favorable impressions of the hot-seat ap-proach. These 12 comments highlight some key strengths of the hot-seat approach. First, a form of theword challenge is mentioned in comments 1, 6, and 10. Students nd the hot seat to be challenging,

  • Table 2Feedback from standard university student evaluation form.

    D partment/division comparison

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

    5-Point Likert scale: 0 = strongly disagree;4 = strongly agree







    Weighted averageresults across allsix sections

    O erall coursem an across allf r semesters**

    ACC departmentmean across allfour semesters**

    Business schoolmean across allfour semesters**

    Number of student evaluations 64 42 46 47 45 331. The instructor clearly communicated

    performance expectations and howthese would be measured

    3.56 3.69 3.52 3.55 3.62 3.67 3.59 3 3 3.25 3.16

    2. The instructor held students to highacademic standards

    3.81 3.93 3.80 3.87 3.91 3.94 3.87 3 8 3.37 3.35

    3. The course has effectively challengedme to think

    3.70 3.81 3.57 3.77 3.78 3.85 3.74 3 9 3.32 3.27

    4. Relative to other courses, I learnedmore from this class

    3.17 3.24 2.96 2.98 3.24 3.61 3.18 2 6 2.83 2.82

    5. The examinations in this course werechallenging.

    3.91 3.95 3.89 3.98 3.93 3.97 3.94 3 0 3.46 3.42

    6. Regular attendance in this class wasimportant to good learning

    3.77 3.90 3.46 3.62 3.60 3.91 3.70 3 0 3.17 3.16

    7. Outside assignments (e.g. readingassignments, problem sets, projects)were important to good learning

    3.44 3.27 3.36 3.33 3.46 3.63 3.41 3 9 3.16 2.98

    8. The instructor was excellent(independent of how you feel aboutthe course)

    3.41 3.48 2.80 3.11 3.44 3.58 3.29 3 6 3.09 3.08

    9. The course was excellent (independentof how you feel about the instructor)

    2.59 2.36 2.11 2.11 2.51 2.67 2.39 2 4 2.57 2.66

    10. The instructor was dedicated to high-quality instruction

    3.72 3.83 3.30 3.47 3.62 3.76 3.61 3 4 3.25 3.28

    a Denotes individual section.** The authors results are included in columns 8, 9, and 10; therefore, the differences between the authors results and he three reference groups are slightly larger than shown.



















  • Table 3Examples of students written negative comments extracted from the universitys standard student evaluation form.

    1. Taking notes did absolutely nothing to help with exams. . . The material was not taught by the professor, had to learnit alone

    2. I didnt learn much by going to class. The things I learned I did on my own. The instructor and class lectures did notbenet me in any way

    3. I did not like the problems that we did in class because they did not give you a real sense of how the test would be4. Hot seattoo much pressure5. The hot seat didnt help us learn. It only tested to see if individuals did their reading and information on the hot seat

    is never like the exams6. The hot-seat approach places all the preparation on the students. The professor only presented information not used

    on a slide show three times. . .The preparation on behalf of the professor should be close to the amount of preprequired for the students

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 165but in a rewarding rather than a discouraging way. Second, incentives provided by the hot-seatapproach are mentioned in comments 4, 9, and 10. Students respond favorably to the opportunityto invest extra effort to reap a payoff in the form of bonus points that can materially increase theirgrade. Third, the students offering comments 3 and 12 indicate that the hot seat changed their studyhabits for the better. This is a frequent comment from students who perceive that regular class prep-aration leads to more engaging classroom experiences, less cramming for exams, and better exam per-formance. Fourth, as the quantitative data demonstrates and, as reected in the qualitative comments,most students like the hot seat. Students like the hot seat because it imposes structure on their studyhabits, which they believe adds to their learning and enjoyment of the course. In summary, while it isbased primarily on personal observation and reported student perceptions, we believe the hot-seatapproach accomplished its intended objectives of increasing student preparation, participation andlearning.

    7. I dont feel taught, I feel interrogated. If everyone in this class makes it through without one ulcer, itll be a miracle. Iread because Im scared, not because Im motivated to learn. This is entry-level accounting, not medical school.However, I do read which is more than I could say about some other classes

    8. You have forgotten to accommodate students who read and do not understand the material. Instead, you put themin a situation to be the weak link for the team. Besides this, your system works surprisingly well

    9. Not every other professor would be able to pull it off. Much of the success of the course depends on the quality of theprofessor and his ability to interact with the students

    10. Expectations might have been too high. The teacher put a lot of pressure on us at the beginning of the semesterwhich may have scared some kids

    Table 4Examples of students written positive comments extracted from the universitys standard student evaluation form.

    1. Hot seat challenged us to do readings and be prepared for class2. His famous Hot-Seat approach was very engaging, and it actually did make his class a great learning environment3. It completely changed my old study habits into much better ones. This class pushed me to work harder not only for

    the grade, but for myself4. The hot seat made it very unique and often entertaining. It also added an incentive to actually do the assigned

    reading5. I liked the hot seat because it was a motivation to attend class, be prepared, and interact with the class. It breaks up

    the monotony of lecture and problems6. I like that it challenged me to learn. I really feel like I learned more from this class than any other class. The hot seat

    really helped me to stay ahead in my work7. Hot seat required everyone to be accountable to the other students. As a result the work got done8. I enjoyed the hot seat because it made me read the text9. The hot seat gave us constant incentive to come prepared to class10. It was very challenging, but with the curves and bonus points, I think it was very fair. We were held to high

    standards and were rewarded for our hard work. I thought the hot seat was a good way to keep class moving and thebonus points were obvious incentives. I was more prepared on a day to day basis than in other classes

    11. The hot seat was very benecial. The teaching style scared me at rst, but it forced me to learn and read. If someonewere to ask me if they should take this professor, I would tell them, if you want to learn the material, yes. If you wantto get an easy grade, no

    12. You were the rst teacher to actually get me to read the book, for that, I commend you. Keep up the difcult level ofthe class, although harder, you forced us to learn

  • 5. Conclusion

    ReferencesAACSB (AA) Accreditation Toolkit (2009). The association to advance collegiate schools of business (AACSB) accounting accreditation(AA) standards mapped to 20062009 NSSE survey questions (July ed.). .

    Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHEERIC higher education report no. 1.Washington, DC: The George Washington University School of Education and Human Development.

    Burcheld, C., & Sappington, J. (2000). Compliance with required reading assignments. Teaching of Psychology, 27(1), 5860.Chizmar, J. F. (2005). The effectiveness of assignments that utilize a time-efcient grading scheme. Journal on Excellence in

    College Teaching, 16(1), 521.Clump, M. A., Bauer, H., & Bradley, C. (2004). The extent to which psychology students read textbooks: A multiple class analysis

    of reading across the psychology curriculum. Journal on Instructional Psychology, 31(3), 227232.Clump, M. A., & Doll, M. (2007). Do the low levels of reading course material continue? An examination in a forensic psychology

    graduate program. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34(4), 242246.Hill, M. C. (1998). Class size and student performance in introductory accounting courses: Further evidence. Issues in AccountingCollege instructors face many challenges in their classrooms. As class sizes continue to grow, it be-comes increasingly difcult to motivate students to prepare for class and engage in classroom discus-sions. The hot-seat methodology described in this article can help professors who are frustrated bystudents lack of advance preparation or classroom engagement. Anecdotally speaking, personalobservation from the hot-seat classes reveal that about 7580% of students arrive to class with hand-written notes summarizing key concepts from the assigned readings. Students prepare these notes sothey can use them as an aid when they need to answer hot-seat questions. This level of advance prep-aration enables the professor to create more engaging dialogue because students are arriving to classwith an elementary understanding of the topics that underlie the forthcoming lesson plan.

    While some professors may be fearful that the accountability imposed on students by the hot-seatapproach will lower their student evaluation scores, the assessment data presented in this article sug-gests otherwise. The hot-seat approach seems to be valued by most students because it holds them toa high academic standard, improves their engagement in the class, and helps them learn material on aweekly basis rather than cramming the entire learning process into a few hours before each exam. Thehot-seat approach also helps professors because students come to class with valuable fundamentalknowledge that provides the foundation for meaningful and enjoyable dialogue.

    A few limitations of this paper should be noted. A research design using a control group (that didnot use the hot seat) was not implemented. This limits our ability to draw conclusions about the effec-tiveness of the hot-seat method. The educational intervention described in this study was employedby one professor at one mid-sized public university. Therefore, it is not possible to generalize the re-sults to other educational contexts including different types of classes and institutions.

    The primary purpose of the hot-seat intervention is to motivate students to prepare for class andengage in classroom discussions. This article explained how this intervention was used successfully byone professor teaching six sections of Principles of Managerial Accounting. If you are a professor whois struggling to engage your students in the learning process, perhaps the hot-seat method holdspromise for you.Finally, the favorable perceptions students have of the hot-seat method is not attributable to aninationary effect of the method on student grades. The overall GPA for the hot-seat sections (2.63)is approximately the same as the sections taught by other Principles of Managerial Accountinginstructors who did not use the hot-seat methodology (2.59). The overall GPA (2.63) is also much low-er than the overall accounting department average of 2.84. If the students had completely rejected thehot-seat methodology, the overall GPA in the hot-seat sections would have been approximately 2.00.Thus, the hot-seat method did raise grades above what students would have earned had they rejectedthe hot-seat opportunity. However, the nal grades assigned to hot-seat sections are not inated in thesense that they are closely aligned with the grades assigned by all other instructors that taught the samecourse.

    166 K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167Education, 13(1), 4764.

  • Litke, R. A. (1995). Learning lessons from students: What they like most and least about large classes. Journal on Excellence inCollege Teaching, 6(2), 113129.

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    OLoughlin, V. D. (2002). Assessing the effects of using interactive learning activities in a large science class. Journal on Excellencein College Teaching, 13(1), 2942.

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    Phillips, B. J., & Phillips, F. (2007). Sink or skim: Textbook reading behaviors of introductory accounting students. Issues inAccounting Education, 22(1), 2144.

    The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) (2009). Eligibility procedures and accreditation standards forbusiness accreditation. Tampa, FL.

    Tuckman, B. W. (1996). Strategies for enhancing teaching and learning in an undergraduate course. Journal on Excellence inCollege Teaching, 7(3), 111128.

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    Excellence in College Teaching, 8(3), 6776.

    K.A. Bentley et al. / J. of Acc. Ed. 27 (2009) 155167 167

    Motivating students to prepare for class and engage in discussion using the hot seatIntroductionLiterature reviewBenefits of preparation and engagementCurrent state of student preparation and engagement behavior

    The hot-seat teaching methodologyDefining the educational interventionImplementation guidanceHave an attendance policyAllow use of notes in the hot seatCreate relatively easy hot-seat questionsGive bonus points to the entire classUse the hot-seat points as bonus points onlyGive the hot-seat points the potential to substantially raise gradesOrganize the course in two-chapter modulesUse the hot seat only part of the class periodWork to prevent fear and intimidationMake the hot-seat process funModify the hot-seat process to meet your needs

    Assessment dataQuantitative dataQualitative data



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