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PhD targets Accounting 101

Friday, 7 March 2014

Nicola Beatson Nicola Beatson, PhD candidate

Nicola Beatson is an Otago PhD candidate, Teaching Fellow and Kaiāwhina, and two time Three-Minute-Thesis winner whose long term goal is to change the world’s view of accounting.

Nicola loves being busy, saying ‘yes’ to things – even if those things are a bit scary – and she especially loves helping where it counts. She has brought all of those enthusiasms into her study of Accounting.

Beginning her Otago Master of Accounting in 2009 as an adult student, Nicola took five years to complete her course due to having her second and third children in that time. She then became a Teaching Fellow in 2010, teaching stage one Accounting.

"I’m using my research to change the way we teach Accounting to first year students. We can change their level of confidence, so they can pass and get ‘A+’s’ all round."

“I was inevitably failing some students,” she recalls. “I was wondering about how they felt when they had to take the course again after having a clear message of failure. Accounting has a bad reputation for being boring and hard, but if they enrol in the class and want to learn, my job is to help them.”

Unsurprisingly then, the topic of Nicola’s PhD is ‘The Role of Self-efficacy in Accounting Education’, with supervision from the Accounting and Finance Department and Otago’s College of Education.

“I wanted my research to have actual impact. So I’m using it to change the way we teach Accounting to first year students. We can change their level of confidence, so they can pass and get ‘A+’s’ all round.”

Three-Minute Thesis wins yet another Otago gift

When Nicola entered the PhD category of Otago’s Three-Minute Thesis competition (having won the Masters category in 2015) her enthusiasm for her topic ensured another win.

“I really enjoyed it when I was in the Masters competition. I wanted to go for the really big one! It’s frightening to go up in front of all your peers and important people, yet it’s great to talk about and do what you love.”

Nicola went to Brisbane for the Asia Pacific Three-Minute Thesis finals on 29 September, making it through to the semi-finals, competing against 49 others. She counts this as yet another opportunity Otago has given her.

“There are so many chances to have a go at new things at Otago. For instance, they asked for volunteers to be Kaiāwhina in the Accounting and Finance Department and there I was. Being a Kaiāwhina is about being a sympathetic ear for Māori students, or any students, if they have a problem or a question to ask. There’s one in each department of the Otago Business School. I always put my hand up where it comes to helping students.

“However, my long term goal is to change the world view of accounting. It’s interesting – not boring. I will keep doing what I’m doing, because I love it. Turning up, asking questions and talking about Accounting. Keep researching, keep teaching.”

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