Managerial accounting, manufacturing processes, project method in teaching, business education


Colleges and universities frequently require business majors to take managerial accounting. Since many non-accounting majors find accounting boring this may be one of the reasons why they may have a difficult time learning the fundamental concepts of the course. This paper describes a project I employ when teaching managerial accounting to make cost accounting interesting and relevant. One of the reasons students may have a difficult time learning managerial accounting is that traditional accounting assignments generally provide students with all of the numbers. Thus, there is very little involvement or attachment to the numbers. This project was designed to get students involved with the numbers by simulating a real- world manufacturing process that they can understand and replicate. Since the students are active participants in making the product (Treats), the financial numbers they work with should have more meaning and relevance than in a traditional assignment.

This project requires students to obtain all of the ingredients in order to manufacture a variety of Rice Krispie Treats. After manufacturing the product, students then calculate their labor and materials costs. In time, since they will make the product several times, they can then compute and evaluate variance reports. In addition, this project requires students to learn how to benchmark their product against their fellow students’. Furthermore, students who participate in these assignments also end up preparing cost budgets and how to work in an environment that encourages continuous improvement.

Overall, this project provides students with a hands-on activity that helps them to understand and apply fundamental cost accounting techniques to everyday business activities. This project has been successful because, unlike regular managerial accounting assignments, the accounting numbers in this case have meaning to students since they created the numbers by actually shopping for the materials and manufacturing the product(s) themselves. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part provides an introduction to and an overview of the assignments. The second part represents the actual assignments given to the students. The third part provides the teaching notes to help provide the instructor with the necessary insight into the purpose of each assignment.

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