Phil Hancock is Winthrop Professor of Accounting and Associate Dean Teaching and Learning in the Business School. He has been teaching for 39 years at university level, 20 of them at UWA. He has taught the breadth of the accounting curriculum to more than 6,000 students. "I am passionate about inspiring my students to enjoy learning, practise reflection and recognise that we all learn throughout our lives. During my career I have taught undergraduate classes in Accounting with class sizes ranging from 30 to 300. I have also taught Honours and Masters level classes and have successfully supervised PhD and Doctor of Business Administration students. I have taught MBA students in Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore.
"Good teaching is, in my opinion, critical for universities because without students most universities would not survive.
"My personal teaching philosophy is founded on my desire to inspire student interest in the subject matter whatever it may be. I also encourage them to think about the importance of accounting to them in whatever professional careers they pursue and in their personal lives.
"I believe that as accounting provides information that is relevant to the making of many different types of resource allocation decisions, everyone requires some level of financial literacy. Indeed many problems in families arise from financial pressures and an inability to manage the family budget.
"Unfortunately, given widely held views about the nature of the accounting discipline and the concepts and techniques that define accounting practice itself, many come to their studies of accounting with some apprehension and a belief that not only will it be a difficult learning experience but also one that will be dry, dull and boring.
"I also believe that, apart from being well prepared for each class, you must also have a passion for teaching. If you can teach with passion and enthusiasm, a solid foundation for student interest will be laid despite any prior negative perceptions. To be passionate about teaching is easy for me as I relish the opportunity to interact and talk with learners.
"In my very first class I set out to dispel notions that accounting is boring and to impart enthusiasm for the subject and establish a foundation from which students are motivated to learn over the duration of the trimester.
"Accounting is not boring but is indeed very exciting, given the political nature of the setting of accounting standards is how I start my first class. This always brings raucous laughter and disbelief but I assure them by the end of the unit they will have a much better understanding and appreciation of accounting.
"In my classes I use many real life examples involving accounting issues with companies like ABC Learning, Centro, Enron and WorldCom failures together with humour and fun. I am also able to draw on my wide experience both as an accounting educator, administrator, credit union director/ chairman and a member of various professional and regulatory committees to provide students with many real life examples to illustrate various principles.
"In my various leadership roles I have mentored and helped many early career staff as they learn the craft of teaching. I impress upon them the importance of preparation and enthusiasm for the subject. I ask them how they reacted to a lecturer who sounded bored with the subject. I reiterate the point that it may be their fourth class for the week, but it is still the first class for the students and it is absolutely essential to student learning that we as teachers maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the fourth class as we did for the first. Thus, apart from showing my passion for teaching by the way I conduct myself in class, I also judiciously call upon many stories and activities that reveal the humorous, if not funny, side of accounting."
Published in UWA News, 25 June 2012