Contact Info and Office Hours
Stephan E. Sefcik, Associate Dean and Professor
Office Mackenzie 218/137F
Office Hours: By appointment
Acctg 215C, Winter 2007
In my obviously unbiased opinion, this introductory course in financial accounting covers some of the most important material in your undergraduate curriculum. Because accounting is "the language of business," you will use the concepts and procedures learned here in virtually every personal and business transaction you will ever conduct (not to mention future courses). Financial accounting is the study of basic accounting concepts and methods and examination of current principles and practices relating to published financial statements from the point of view of decision makers external to the firm.
Financial accounting focuses on the rules by which firms (and individuals) report the results of their operations to outsiders such as stockholders, potential investors, creditors, suppliers and regulatory agencies. In Accounting 215, you will learn to create balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements from the underlying transactions. You will learn accounting jargon and some of the limitations of the basic accounting model. By examining the political process by which accounting standards evolve, you will gain insights into why these limitations exist and why they are likely to persist. The text materials will be supplemented with actual case studies and current articles from the financial press (e.g., Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune and Barrons). As much as possible in an introductory course, we will go beyond simply learning and applying the rules to the "art" of using and interpreting accounting information. In a somewhat philosophical sense, the role of financial accounting is as a measurement tool and a communication system for the transmission of relevant economic information to decision makers (i.e., user groups) for efficient resource allocation and utilization.
The role of this course is to acquaint you with this dual function of financial accounting and to establish in you some minimum level of technical proficiency. There is a considerable amount of material covered in this course, and it is essential that you stay current with the assigned reading and homework. To complete the weekly assignments you will need to allocate a substantial amount of time (perhaps 15 hours per week). The best way to learn accounting is to "roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty ", and that is exactly what we will do!!
Your Final course grade will be calculated based on the following approximate weightings:
Grade anxiety seems to be a significant problem for some in this course. I encourage you to talk to me or your TA if it is really causing you undue stress. One thing that is very important to remember is that the backgrounds of students in the class vary widely. While I will not attempt to factor in these differences in the final grades, you should do so in interpreting your success in the course. If you've had no prior exposure to accounting, a final grade of 2.7 might be a significant achievement. The undergraduate program is sufficiently diverse that those who excel in more qualitative areas will find other courses which will play more to their background and strength than does this one.
1. Lectures and Quiz Sections:
There are two separate parts to this course: a lecture section (twice a week for 1 hour and 20 minutes with your Professor) and a quiz section (twice a week for 50 minutes with your TA). Both are absolutely essential!! There is far too much material (even in an introductory financial accounting class) for your professor or TA to cover it all. Therefore, you must rely on your instructors to emphasize what is most important. While we do not promise to cover everything that you will explicitly be tested on, we will certainly cover the vastmajority. In essence, we will "value-weight" the topics and issues from the text to "signal" to you what is most important. Thus while attendance is not mandatory (at least to the mass lecture), it is essential. Let us make this material easy for you.
2. Homework, Quizzes, Cases, etc.:
Although the focus of this course will be one of using, not preparing financial accounting information, a certain level of technical understanding and competence (i.e., nuts and bolts) is necessary. Consequently, to ensure that a minimum level of proficiency is attained by the student, preparatory homework assignments should be completed before each class. This is the absolute key to success in this course and it can not be over emphasized. KEEP UP!!
In addition, as a learning device, quizzes (announced and/or unannounced) and cases may also periodically be used by your quiz section instructor. There will also be a written assignment.
3. Mid-term Examinations:
Two one and a half-hour mid-term examinations will be given during class. Exams will be closed book. Bring your calculator. If you disagree with the grading of an exam, state the disagreement in writing and submit the entire test for re-grading. Exams will NOT normally be rescheduled for individual students. See me on an individual basis. No excused absences will be granted for the mid-terms unless you have spoken with your TA or the Professor in advance. No makeups will be given, so consequently an excused absence causes the FINAL EXAM to receive a weight of 50% (30% (see above) plus 20%).
4. Final Examination:
A two hour final examination will be given during finals week. It will be a comprehensive exam over the entire term's course work with emphasis on the material covered since the second mid-term exam. Exams will be closed book. Bring your calculator. If you disagree with the grading of an exam, state the disagreement in writing and submit the entire test for re-grading. Exams will not normally be rescheduled for individual students. See me on an individual basis. You must attend the FINAL for the section that you are officially registered in. In order to pass the course, you must pass the final.
1. Horngren, C., Sundem, G., Elliot, J., and Philbrick, D., Introduction to Financial Accounting, 9th edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2006.
2. Accounting 215 Course Package (Available at the UW Bookstore).
Popular business publications (WSJ, BW, Forbes, Fortune, Barrons, etc.). Renew your subscriptions. If you don't buy a NEW copy of the text, start a subscription to The Wall Street Journal (see below). While not technically required, this is essential for Business students.
A subscription to The Wall Street Journal.
Winter 2008 Syllabus
Q = Questions CT= Critical Thinking E = Exercises P=Problems
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Last modified: 11/21/2007 12:38 PM