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ACCT 200 Financial Accounting Course Guide

Course Description

This course presents the underlying framework and concepts of Financial Accounting in the context of how accounting fits into the overall business environment of contemporary society.  Financial accounting is the basic means of recording and reporting financial information in a business.  Students will learn how accounting functions as an information development and communication system that supports economic decision making and provides value to entities and society.  Students will discover the uses and limitations of financial statements and related information and apply analytical tools in making both business and financial decisions.  Topics examined include those related to corporate financial position, operating results, cash flows, and financial strength.  Students will study the basic accounting system and will be shown how the various accounting alternatives for recording financial transactions impact on the usefulness of the information provided for decision-making.  During coverage of relevant topics reference will be made to recent lapses in ethical reporting and the resulting impact on the financial markets and society.  

Learning Outcomes

The primary learning objective of this course is to inform students that accounting is an information development and communication function that supports economic decision making.  To support this basic objective the student should:

  1. understand the elements, uses, and limitations of each financial statement and the relationships among the statements
  2. develop an understanding of the framework of accounting and the concepts, principles, and procedures that govern how the financial statements are prepared.
  3. be able to prepare financial statements
  4. understand how financial information, primarily that provided by the financial statements, can be used to analyze business operations and make economic decisions
  5. identify the basic principles used in safeguarding assets and insuring the accuracy of accounting records
  6. understand the difference between accrual and cash basis accounting
  7. utilize a spreadsheet program within a business or economic decision making context
  8. develop an awareness of the technical accounting literature
  9. appreciate the role accounting software applications play in gathering, recording, reporting and interpreting financial accounting information

Course Outline

I.   Introduction to accounting
     A.  Forms of business organization
     B.  Explain how accounting provides value to the organization and society
     C.  Discuss the basic framework and accounting concepts comprising GAAP, the basic characteristics of accounting information, and financial and other disclosure requirements
     D.  Describe the four basic financial statements
     E.  Define operating, investing, and financing activities 

II.   Introduction to the system used to record financial transactions
     A.   Analysis of business transactions
     B.   Basic steps used to record transactions and complete the accounting cycle
     C.   Define accrual accounting concepts
     D.   Define internal control 

III.  In each of the topical areas detailed below the following will occur
     A.    Alternative methods of accounting will be discussed together with the resulting impact on decision making
     B.    Students will learn to use the information related to each financial statement element including the application of analytical tools and appropriate ratios
     C.    Where appropriate the ethical considerations related to the financial accounting will be discussed   

Income Measurement & Accrual Accounting (recognition and measurement of revenues and expenses) 

Assets
           Cash (include bank reconciliations and control of cash)
            Receivables
            Inventory (journal entries under the periodic method)
            Property, Plant and Equipment 

Liabilities
            Current Liabilities
            Long Term Liabilities
            Interest bearing liabilities (Use either bonds or leases to illustrate present value techniques) 

Owners’ Equity
            Capital stock
            Retained Earnings (income and dividends)
            Definition of comprehensive income 

Statement of cash flows
            Purpose and methods (use direct method for preparation –discuss indirect method) 

Recommended Teaching Methodology

This course will be structured in such a way as to facilitate the use of different methods of instruction.  Students are expected to take an active role in their learning experience and will be expected to have read the assigned material prior to class and to have prepared any written assignments.   Classroom time will consist of one or all of the following:  lecture, question and answer, group discussions and class exercises and problems.  Work may be done individually or in small groups.  

The readings will come from the required text.  Lectures and discussions will enable the Professor and the students to expand on and clarify the material presented in the readings.  

Recommended Assessment Measures

The primary assessment measures will be examinations including a comprehensive final. The final examination will include a series of departmental questions concerning some key knowledge areas that might include the following:

  1. The definition of the balance sheet
  2. The ability to identify a representative accrual accounting adjusting entry
  3. The ability to calculate the inventory valuation under the differing cost flow assumptions
  4. The evaluation of the relative gross profit resulting from the adoption of a specific inventory method.
  5. The articulation of the basic financial statements.
  6. The identification of key internal control attributes.
  7. Utilizing the allowance method of recording bad debts-balance sheet approach
  8. Identifying the correct accounting concept of depreciation.
  9. Correctly understanding the relationship between bond pricing and interest rates.

One examination may require students to prepare a basic set of financial statements.  Students will be required to demonstrate their competence in spreadsheet skills through at least one graded assignment. 

Use of calculators:                
The accounting department has adopted a policy of restricting the use of certain programmable calculators on in class and final exams in the first two accounting courses.   Students may choose to bring a simple four-function calculator for exams or may bring their TI-83 with the understanding that the memory will have to be cleared before the test can be administered.  

Statement of Expectations

This course is a required core course for all students in the School of Business.  Students are expected to take an active role in their learning experience and will be expected to have read the assigned material prior to class and to have prepared any written assignments.   Students should attend and actively participate in all classes. 

Most of the learning will not take place in the classroom.  Students should be informed that most learning occurs as they are doing the required work outside of class.  This includes their reading, critically thinking, and applying the concepts to the real world problems and exercises.  The amount that they learn and the level of skill that they develop will be directly proportional to the amount of effort they put forth in preparing for class. 

The concept of academic integrity lies at the very heart of any college. This is particularly true of Siena with its strong Franciscan tradition and its dedication to fostering sound moral growth. In such an environment, academic dishonesty cannot be tolerated  Work that students submit for this course must be entirely their own.  Although students are encouraged to study together, they are required to produce their own solutions to all work they submit (including, obviously, exams).  In any situation in which a student is unsure what constitutes academic dishonesty, it is the student’s responsibility to raise the question with his or her instructor. It is also the student’s responsibility to be familiar with the student guidelines on academic dishonesty, “ Academic Integrity and the Siena Student” 

Course Prerequisites  

This course assumes a working knowledge of micro computers, including WORD and EXCEL.  Additionally students must be comfortable with mathematical tools necessary for business.  Normally this knowledge would be obtained by completing QBUS 100 -Mathematics for Decision Making I.   The student must be able to communicate effectively and be able to work in groups.   

Institutional Mechanism for Providing Feedback for Continuous Quality Improvement

The Accounting department will annually review assessment results from the common questions on the final examination for this course and other assessment projects that might be undertaken.  Specifically, assessment results of the learning outcome areas will be analyzed to determine the level of success in achieving these learning outcomes.  Any deficiencies in achieving learning outcomes will be addressed and appropriate changes designed to improve the success in achieving these learning outcomes will be implemented.

There also will be a periodic review of the course curriculum to accommodate changes in accounting practice or classroom experience.