Nandini Krishna Kumar is a Lecturer and Director of Education in the Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie Business School. A recent Teche post explored Nandini’s package of strategies to engage students and bust the myth that accounting is a boring subject. In this post, we ask Nandini about her recent experiments in teaching – and most importantly, how they went! (As told to Kylie Coaldrake & Karina Luzia).

I have been trialling different methods and practices in the classroom based on published research and personal experience. I am happy to share some of these experiments.

Here are 6 things I’ve tried recently:

1. Co-creating assessments

Last session I experimented with co-creating a non-graded assessment task in my unit ACCG8121 Managerial Accounting. Towards the end of the semester, I asked students to create some multiple-choice questions and post them on a link. I made sure to provide guidance on how to develop good questions. I then reviewed and moderated the submissions and created an H5P quiz from it, which the entire class could then use for exam prep revision. The students enjoyed the experience, and the involvement and responsibility gave them a sense of belonging and trust.  

2. Forming teams – with a twist

In my Management Control Systems class, students have a major assessment project in which they pick an organisation of their choice and evaluate the existing management control systems within that organisation. The aim is for students to act as management consultants, identify the gaps in the control systems, and then design controls that can eliminate those gaps.

Students complete three to four weeks of individual pre-work and then form teams. Usually, students are randomly allocated into groups or form groups by themselves. But for this project the groups, or rather teams, were created using a bit of behavioural science.

Students choose their team roles based on a standard team roles matrix describing the characteristics and skills required in a team (see table below).

Team Roles *DescriptionCharacteristics
LeaderGuides the team, balances everyone’s contribution, keeps team on track, brings in quiet members, gives everyone a chance.Not as much a boss, as a natural people and task leader; sets vision and guides team to the goal.
EnquirerHelps team consider multiple perspectives and asks questions to the team about approaches. Ensures multiple views are considered and all options explored.All-rounder – able to see things from multiple perspectives and helps people to consider these views.
ConfirmerConfirms that agreement has been reached. Records decisions and minutes and ensures everyone understands what’s going on.Coordinator and tracker; gets into the details, and shares and communicates with the team.
MediatorResolves tensions and conflicts. Smooths out differences, negotiates a common or synergistic view.Interpersonal relations specialist, approachable and friendly.
Team memberAll team roles other than the above.Participates with the team to attain the team goals.
* Table above has been adapted from the discussion on the team roles that need to be carried out so that the team runs smoothly (McCulloch & Reid, 2015)

Once team roles have been chosen, this is then matched with a template that captures their individual characteristics like their strengths, skills, experience with teamwork, and the grade they are targeting to get on the project.

Sometimes student expectations and commitment to a project will vary. For example, you might have two students sitting together in class – one student may just want to pass the unit and doesn’t want to put in more than ‘x’ amount of time into it whereas the other student could be striving for a distinction or a high distinction. So, clearly, that is a mismatch.

This process enables students to form teams that have a variety of personalities and skills aligned to the roles they have to perform and allows the individuals to match and fit the role that they are either skilled in or wish to take up as a growth opportunity. For example, a student might think they are not a very good team leader or innovator, but might see the project role as an opportunity to build those very skills.

I found that when students agreed on their roles and responsibilities and had clear expectations for themselves and each other, their enhanced role clarity enabled them to optimise their performance.

The overall message was that this is a team project built on mutual accountability towards shared goals.

The onus was then on the team to make good outcomes happen through collective agreement, role allocation, specialisation, or by other means. In this process, what each individual does is less relevant than what the team collectively achieves. If there is a gap, the role of the leader is to guide the team to make decisions on how the gap would be filled.

The results were nothing less than magical.

I have had students come back after the course and tell me that they really enjoyed the experience and acquired work-relevant team skills.

3. Teaching conflict resolution skills

As part of the Management Control Systems project mentioned above, students are equipped with conflict resolution skills. When working together in a team, conflicts will inevitably happen. But rather than waiting for a conflict to happen, we try to pre-empt it. This is done by training them to understand communication and cultural differences. For example, what may be normal in one culture could be perceived as being rude or being exclusive in another.

I haven’t tried this approach in my undergraduate units because it does take a bit of time. However, it sits well in a postgraduate unit because of the longer seminar format. I think the open-ended nature of the research project also lends itself to this sort of technique.

Workplace skills like teamwork are critical for success. As are collaboration, problem-solving, communication, agility, innovation, and being future-focused. Technical skills already receive a lot of attention.

4. Encouraging creativity in assessment submission

I recently added a twist to one of the tasks which would usually require a written submission. The task was a case study that involved an ethical dilemma, and students were required to advise the management on a course of action.

The students were required to submit a short video in place of the usual written submission outlining their recommendations. I encouraged them to be creative in their presentation. I said, “You could record by the lake. You don’t have to wear a suit and sit in front of your computer all stiff and uptight”. It gave them the freedom and flexibility to be creative. The students had fun with it and videoed themselves at varied locations. One student even recorded it whilst riding their bike doing an Uber delivery!

Giving students options in assessment formats is generally a good idea and aligns well with universal design principles.

5. Situating student learning in the context of the real world

It’s important for my accounting students to understand the context of the business world, to be well-informed about business issues, and to be able to solve problems and make decisions. This is the essence of the application of learning. To achieve this objective more easily, I pursued an innovative intervention through an MQBS Course Success grant to enhance engagement and sharpen business acumen through short 5-minute business trivia games in class.

I led a group of associates to create a database of quiz questions and used Mentimeter, which is a game tool, to load the trivia questions into a lively game with a leaderboard. Students had great fun with it. It instantly got the focus of those whose attention was wavering in class and helped them engage. It also brought home the importance of staying abreast with current events and business changes impacting the world, especially the world of accountants. Apart from enhancing business acumen and knowledge, the game encourages them to think on their feet.

Read a summary of the MQBS Course Success Grant project to create business savvy and work ready accountants:
Download PDF

All of these are real-world, work-relevant skills to help accountants integrate with their business peers and shake off the stereotype of being dowdy ‘bean counters’.

I do feel that these kinds of teaching innovations can help to build up relevant industry skills among the students, such as teamwork, communication, presentation, and business acumen – all very critical for success beyond the classroom.

6. Providing feedback with a difference

Recently I’ve been trying to make the feedback process more impactful. I’ve tried three different things with pleasantly surprising results.

Voice feedback

When you use Turnitin to provide feedback, it shows who has viewed your feedback. I found that student views of the feedback were quite low. This was disappointing because it takes so much time to write feedback, which students were essentially ignoring.

So, I experimented with providing voice feedback and recorded short, personalised voice messages. For example, I might say “Hey (student name), that was a wonderful submission. I like the way you have analysed the pros and cons of implementing the controls. Here are a few things that you may want to consider next time to enhance the quality of your submission.”

I found students enjoyed voice feedback and the number of views soared. It was successful, but it was not easy. It is, of course, easier to type feedback, as you can leverage your comments using Quickmarks. With the voice feedback, there was a bit of a learning curve in getting comfortable with organising my thoughts before recording, but eventually I got there, and the students liked it.

Work-in-progress check-in

When working on large team projects, students often have difficulty in continually engaging with the project for the entire duration of the allotted timeframe. To combat this, I fit in some time mid-way through each tutorial/seminar to conduct a ‘work-in-progress’ discussion with each student group.

Not only does it allow me to provide guidance and support to students on the assignments they are currently working on, but it also indicates if a student or group is falling behind. The time can also be used as a conversation starter among peers and provides transparency and accountability on their progress and their next steps.


While feedback focuses on past events, feedforward focuses on what can be done in the future. In ACCG 8028, the students do a two-part submission on a semester-long case assignment. I provide extensive non-assessable written feedback on the Part 1 submission mid-semester.

This is non-graded and the student can reflect over and understand how they can use it to amend the final Part 2 assignment submission. This helps the student immensely compared to receiving a single piece of summative feedback and a grade at the end of the semester on a large component of their overall assessment, with no ability to do anything to implement the feedback and improve their performance.

It is ultimately all about communicating – finding the right way to reach the student, at the right time and helping them understand and appreciate the feedback that you are trying to get across.

I think integrating generative artificial intelligence is something that we all need to be doing one way or another.

We are way past debating whether generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a good or bad thing. It is here to stay. Generative AI is reinventing business and technology and is potentially going to add trillions of dollars to the global economy. And AI is changing the very nature of accounting – by automating routine tasks it enables us to focus more on strategy and analysis.

As the accounting profession changes, I believe our assessments need to change as well. It’s pointless to discourage students from using AI. I believe the key is to design assessment tasks that involve building upon the information that students can get from AI. The students must apply evaluative judgment in a variety of situations.

I encourage students to use their analytical skills to interpret information produced by generative AI. For example, during class, I might ask the students to estimate inventory levels, revenues, or costs for the company that we are examining. The students could use AI to find initial answers and then apply human interpretation and reasoning in the context of non-quantitative factors like the business environment and competition.

In one of my units, students are set an assessment task to understand how a company (of their choosing) might apply various methods of accounting analysis in different economic scenarios. As a starting point, students might use AI to access general information and facts about the company. But then they need to apply critical thinking to decide how the company might use the available information to work out what they should be doing in different economic scenarios like an inflationary scenario or a recessionary scenario.

If in the work world our graduates are going to be using AI, and we are preparing them for the work world, there’s no reason for us not to integrate it into our units.

Mentoring is very important to me as a way of giving back.

I support the Beginning to Teach program as a peer reviewer providing formative feedback on participants’ micro-teaching sessions. I’ve been encouraging these early career teachers to reach out to me and I offer them the option of sitting in one of my classes or having further conversations.

I open my classes for observation as part of the Open for Observation program. Again, I extend the experience beyond just the initial observation by offering to attend one of their classes and give feedback if they would like it.

I believe mentorship is important to foster a culture of inclusion, enhance the integration of sessional staff, and have high-quality teaching in our classrooms.

In MQBS, last year, we came up with a new Sessional Staff Engagement Initiative. Under this umbrella initiative, I came up with a grant project proposal to introduce a series of workshops on classroom excellence. My colleagues and I brought together senior full-time academic staff with sessional staff and shared working strategies that could be used to promote classroom excellence. The workshop sessions have included practical ideas on how to make online classes engaging and fun, improve class participation, foster connections, and ensure inclusivity.

We’ve also done a hands-on workshop using role plays, enacting different classroom scenarios, such as what to do if you have a difficult student, a student who doesn’t want to participate, or a student who tries to occupy the airtime in the class. We came up with a variety of ways to handle these scenarios with finesse. The workshops were a huge success and there is interest in seeing this become an annual feature.

As part of my continuing student mentoring activities, I have mentored and guided two teams for an Industry-engaged Pitch for the Planet competition sponsored and coordinated by HP and Enactus. The aim of the competition was for students to suggest pathways for  HP to achieve its sustainability initiatives within its product suite.

I’m also a developmental mentor for CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Sydney chapter) where I work with professional accountants from the industry in a mentoring relationship over an extended period.

During this program, I worked with my mentees on setting clear goals for themselves – for example, communicating and networking – and working systematically to achieve them. I helped them get tangible, early outcomes in areas like presenting to senior stakeholders and networking through small talk. The changes they made were quickly noticed at work, leading to new job opportunities.

Following on from this I was awarded the CPA Mentor of the Year Award, which is an award for the Australian mentor who has provided exceptional support, motivation, and direction to their mentees throughout the program.

I find mentoring very rewarding. With my length of experience, I do feel I have a lot to give back at this point. All my industry experience, teaching experience, and life experience have got to translate into something – so I’m making a very conscious effort to share my insights and learnings so that my mentees are empowered to take up the challenge of becoming the next generation of educators and business leaders. Nothing could be more satisfying!

Banner image: Photo by Kiselev Andrey Valerevich on Shutterstock
Handshake image: Photo by Fida Olga on Shutterstock
Microphone image: Photo by Africa Studio on Shutterstock
AI image: Vector by ProStockStudio on Shutterstock
To do image: Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash
Arrow image: Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Mentor image: Photo by docstockmedia on Shutterstock

Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email with questions or requests.

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