This instructional paper will consist of detailed instructions for preparing a simple income statement. The paper will be designed to meet the specific needs of my client (a female shoe store owner) who requires instruction in completing the income statement for her small business. As such, the instructions will be geared at the client's level of expertise in the area of accounting, and will focus largely on enabling the client to prepare her income statement with minimal assistance from professional sources such as an accountant, thus potentially reducing her expenses.
This lesson is necessary to help my client in two important areas. The first benefit is practical, as my client will save a significant amount of money by learning to develop her own income statement, rather than relying on the expertise of professional accountants. The client has currently clearly indicated to me that they do not have the specific knowledge that is required to complete this task, and I feel that this instructional paper will fulfill this pressing need. The second benefit is less immediately tangible, and is simply geared at improving my client's general understanding of the accounting practices of her firm. I believe that this instructional paper will improve her overall knowledge about her business' finances, and as such may have unforeseen benefits in helping her to manage financial aspects like cash flow, spending, and budgeting.
The target student for this instructional paper is a successful entrepreneur, who owns a thriving shoe store in my local area. She is not formally schooled in accounting practices, but has an excellent intuitive and practical understanding of financial matters that relate to her business. As such, she will be quick to understand accounting concepts, but specific terms may be unfamiliar to her and should be defined, as appropriate. English is her first language, and (as noted previously), she is financially adept. As such, the level of difficulty in language and financial content will not be a barrier in writing the paper, and the level of difficulty will be aimed at an undergraduate level.
This paper will largely consist of a practical guide to preparing an income statement. While theory will be discussed, and defined where appropriate, the ultimate goal of this instructional paper will be to enable the student to complete an income statement on her own, without the assistance of professional accountants. Given this focus on practicality, the large majority of the instructional paper will focus on developing procedural, rather than declarative knowledge.
An understanding of the role of theories of behaviorism, cognition, and constructivism in instructional design is important to understanding why the procedural method may be the best instructional design targeted for this specific student and situation. The procedural method allows for a quantifiable reproduction of a specific task. The main objective for this student is the completion of a business income statement, rather than the understanding of theory underlying the process.
As such, an understanding of behaviorism in instructional design is a useful guide in creating the learning plan. Behaviorism is based on identifiable changes in behavior (such as the successful completion of an income statement). Using behaviorism as a model, a new pattern of behavior is repeated until it becomes automatic. As such, this method of teaching would recommend getting the student to repeat completing an income statement until it becomes an automatic behavior (Mergel).
Further, an understanding of cognitivism is also important in understanding the specific learning objectives and techniques used in this paper. In cognitivism, changes in behavior are linked to a series of specific and global changes that may occur in the thought processes of the learner during and after the process of learning. As such, by changing thought processes in the student (such as understanding declarative knowledge like the difference between an income statement and balance sheet), the student will be better able to complete an income statement (Mergel).
An understanding of the theory of constructivism also plays a small part in this instructional paper. The theory of constructivism effectively argues that each person creates a perspective of the world that is based on individual experience. Using constructivist theory, a learner can be prepared to solve difficult problems in specific, unclear situations (Mergel). While this theory has a limited applicability to this specific instructional paper, the student may learn how to create an income statement vs. A balance sheet in a financially ambiguous situation. However, this is not the main objective of the exercise, making an application of both behaviorism and cognitivism more applicable to the specific learning needs addressed within this paper.
Students will learn how to complete a simple income statement for their small business. The instructional paper will be the main means of education, although I will be available to answer specific questions.
Several aspects of declarative knowledge will be included in the design for this instructional paper. Declarative knowledge is often simply referred to as the development of an understanding of the "what" of a specific subject. It often focuses on creating a number of applicable analogies and discoveries within the specific lesson. Declarative knowledge can include new materials that link to existing knowledge, new concepts, facts, lists, and elements. The most effective design is to begin with simple information, and move onto more complex material, while developing connections with earlier material and prior knowledge (Instructional Technology Services).
Clear definitions of key terms and concepts are absolutely necessary within this specific instructional paper, given the student's lack of formal training in the field of accounting theory and practice. For example, the student may be unaware that an income statement is often called a profit and loss statement or an operating statement. As such, this lack of knowledge relating to a definition of key terms could create a significant amount of confusion if not addressed early on in the instructional paper.
The student must learn the concept that whatever the term that is used for an income statement, the income statement itself is designed specifically as a way to measure the net profit or loss of a company's production over a designated period of time. This period of time is usually a year, but income statements can also be prepared quarterly, monthly, or semi-annually. In addition, many individuals commonly confuse the definition or concept of an income statement with a balance sheet (which only looks at a specific point in time), and this lesson will also include a clear differentiation of the key terms income statement and balance sheet (Dalstead and Sharp).
In addition, the instructional paper will consider such important characteristics as the time frame for inclusion within the income statement (yearly, semi-annually, or quarterly), and the process of developing an understanding of the important differences between the accrual vs. cash basis of accounting. This is a common area of confusion for many business owners, and can be addressed through learning declarative knowledge. For example, the student will learn that the cash basis of accounting includes cash revenue and expenses, and allows a great deal of flexibility, but is often not helpful for measuring business performance or true income. The accrual method is the most common, and likely the most effective for my client's needs (Dalstead and Sharp).
The instructional paper will also use declarative knowledge to impart learning that covers a wide range of specific problems that are often encountered in preparing the income statement. For example, in preparing the measurement of income and expenses, many people encounter problems like considering net income above operating expenses, and allowing for tax obligations, as well as other little-considered expenses like social security taxes, retirement allocations, and principal payment on dept.
Further, an understanding of the role of depreciation in the income statement will be considered. Depreciation is listed as an expense and subtracted from income. It is also part of the total funds available to the small business for capital replacement (Dalstead and Sharp).
Several components of conditional knowledge will also be included in this paper. Contextual knowledge teaches the student the "when" and "why" of a subject. It places the knowledge in a specific context, or condition, and allows the user to understand attitudes and circumstances that may affect the knowledge. Further, learners learn to make evaluations and often find new ways of organizing information. Examples, scenarios, role playing and metaphors are useful in transmitting contextual and conditional knowledge (Instructional Technology Services).
Conditional knowledge that is learned within this specific instructional paper will include development of an understanding of when and why the accrual and cash methods of accounting are useful. In addition, understanding why an income statement is used, rather than a balance statement, will also be conditional knowledge that is included within this specific instructional paper.
Scaffolding for Declarative Knowledge
Both theories of cognitivism and behaviorism can be incorporated successfully into teaching declarative knowledge about the preparation of an income statement. Ertmer and Newby (1993) note that in many situations, instructional theory should combine many theories of…