ASS#2 Steps 3 & 4 General Feedback

“Well this was definitely a fun task. It challenged me more than I thought it would but I think I have come out the other side intact.”

“Well now, hasn’t it been an interesting few days. At this point in time, I don’t really want to talk about how my restatement went as some of the dialogue used throughout the process would be that of an MA 15+ movie. I am glad that I have a partner that has a trade so it wasn’t anything new to him but the important part is where I am now.”

Thank you to everyone who has submitted your ASS#2 Steps 3 & 4.

We are enjoying reading your assignments. We plan to have everyone’s mark and feedback available on Moodle by early Week 10.

Here is some general feedback on ASS#2 Steps 3 & 4.

In spite of some frustration and difficulties at times, many people are discovering for themselves that accounting is ‘more than just numbers’:

“Accounting is more than just numbers and it’s not boring like everyone outside of university says. It’s exciting, at times frustrating, and I have met so many amazing and nice people since starting the accounting class.”

Step 3

“I have a spreadsheet, it is restated and it balances (I think). I learnt a lot about not only accounting, but how tedious it is to use Excel on a MacBook Air Laptop. If you find any errors, please let me know tomorrow as tonight, I am having a date will a well deserved tub of chocolate chip ice-cream and a bottle of chocolate Nesquick ❤

“For me personally, I have had a huge few weeks with my work, so juggling restating statements with the large amount of overtime has been fun … I worked through the beginning of restating my financial statements at 30,000ft as I flew to Melbourne twice for work. What did help and got me off to a good start was the combination of Maria’s lectures and Martin’s Chapter 4. I found myself referring to both throughout the process. I also referred to the Danielle Bradley’s assignment 2 from last semester, which again was a great help.”

Step 3 was generally well done.

Operating and financial items

A key issue was to be able to discern between what was an operating item and what was a financial item in your firm’s financial statements. Besides understanding the difference between operating and financial items (operating items involve the firm relating to its customers in the product/service markets and its suppliers in the input markets; and financial items involve the firm relating to its equity investors and debt investors through the capital markets); this step also involved being able to figure out what each item in our financial statements was:

“… still being somewhat confused on categorising operating and financial items … some of the names of the accounts are just so complicated to understand what … they are. I had the most trouble trying to decide where to categorise ‘Investments in Equity Accounted Investees’ – which in normal talk means the organisation’s investments in one or more other entities.”

Restated Statement of Changes in Equity

“Love Love Loved it.
I Loved restating the financial reports.
I found it easy to follow Maria through the [videos] and it all made sense to me.”

Most people found the restatement of their firm’s Statement of Changes in Equity to be quite straightforward:

“I started off with the Movements of Equity statement as … it had been rumoured this was the easiest. I thought it would be better to start off easy and build up to the terrifying Income Statement. I had two items to classify and the notes for each were easy to understand and allowed me to allocate these items with ease and only took a small amount of time. No hair had been pulled out from stress yet.”

A few people did not clearly identify their firm’s comprehensive income (CI) in their restated Statement of Changes in Equity; others forgot to include their firm’s opening and/or closing equity balance.  Some people also struggled with making the judgements about whether items were in their firm’s other operating comprehensive income or other financial comprehensive income.

Restated Balance Sheet

Most people also did very well with the restatement of their firm’s Balance Sheet.  Some people found it difficult to allocate some of their assets and liabilities to financial and operating, including allocating cash.  However, most people did manage to get their restated balance sheet to ‘balance’ (which is always a nice feeling):

“I then moved on to the balance sheet. This sheet had a few more items to classify than the statement of changes in equity, however, once again the notes were very helpful. The only part of this statement that I took a bit of time on was allocating the cash and cash equivalents component into operating and financing … I still remember the feeling of anxiety I had adding together my Net Operating Assets and my Net Financial Assets, crossing my fingers that they would equal my total equity. To my relief they did, no need to panic and go back and check every single one of my amounts. It had been smooth sailing so far but I had a feeling the water was about to get rougher.”

Restated Income Statement

Most people found restating their firm’s Income Statement the most challenging of the three financial statements, although many found in the end that they were able to do this learning task quite well:

The hardest area was the restatements of financial performance. The stress I felt regarding this section was overwhelming … To begin with my restated spreadsheet for this section was a mess … [but] once it was completed … I actually found myself looking back at how much I was overthinking the process and how easy it was when using the advice I had acquired and also following Martin’s example layout.

Many people found viewing Maria’s lectures very helpful, particularly the Week 7 lecture on Restating the Income Statement:

“The rumours were right, the Income Statement was by far the hardest of all statements to restate … tax is something I like to avoid, because I simply don’t understand it. I looked at the sheet provided by Maria and tried to attempt this restating purely by just looking at the sheet but it was no use. I started stressing and telling myself I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know where these calculations were coming from or why they were being used.

That’s when I remembered I could view the lecture online, as I had missed it due to work. Step by step I went through my restated Income Statement as Maria did in the video. It turns out it’s not that bad when you’ve got someone telling you how to do it. In this process, I learnt that my firm had no finance income, which I found very interesting. I also learnt that even though they have some activities in Germany, they use the Australian tax rate .. All my other comprehensive income matched, so that was my first relief. Then the moment of truth arrived, the last total. It was a miracle but it matched. I was extremely pleased that I had balanced 3 financial statements out of 3 with no errors.”

The Income Statement was the financial statement that many people found to be the most challenging to restate.  Some people found their comprehensive income after tax (CI) in their restated Income Statement was not the same as the comprehensive income in their restated Statement of Changes in Equity (these two numbers should be the same).  Some people made simple computational errors, or left out some items, or perhaps omitted some of their firm’s ‘other comprehensive income’.  A few people also incorrectly showed their firm’s operating income before tax.

A number of people did not include their firm’s finance income (interest income) when calculating their firm’s Net financial expenses after tax (NFE).  If it is not shown in your firm’s Income Statement, finance income can usually be found in the footnote to your firm’s Revenue in your firm’s Income Statement. Also, finance income can occasionally be netted off against finance costs and be shown in the footnote to finance costs.

Almost all people managed to allocate income tax to operating and financial very well, which was great.

Also, many gave thoughtful commentary on issues or concerns you had in restating your firm’s financial statements including commenting on the discussions you had with other people in the unit.  A number of people, however, forgot to include a commentary on this in their assignment:

“As I dragged across the formula to calculate the last balances of the income statement, I felt a sense of accomplishment rush through my body as the figures matched to the original statement. Looking back on it now, I really did not have too much trouble with this task. It did help that I had completed my first financial statements correctly, so I did not need to go back and fix anything up, saving time that is better spent on restating the financial statements.

At first, I was very concerned with how I would go completing this task due to the many posts I had seen about people finding this whole step very hard. However, I found once I sat down and just went through everything in small pieces it really wasn’t that hard at all.”

In this way, some people were continuing to gradually overcome their fear of financial statements as they ‘conquered’ restating their firm’s financial statements. People who were already familiar with Excel found this helped; and many people found discussing issues with others was a great way to find solutions to problems:

“Overall, I found the restating of Financial Statements a time-consuming task; however, not too challenging. I … found that my familiarity with Excel and how it works, allowed me to complete this task efficiently and with little trouble formatting wise. I also found when I was facing a problem, discussing this problem with other students allowed me to obtain a solution. I also found offering my own advice and help, also assisted me in improving my restated Financial Statements and allowed me to reflect. I conquered the restatement of Financial Statements, now onto the next step.”

And, of course, the purpose of the task was to help you become a little bit more familiar with some of the items in financial statements:

“I think restating helped me to understand some of the items in the financial statements as I could delve deeper into the notes one at a time on the things I needed to gain a better understanding of; and doing this one at a time meant less figures and acronyms bouncing around in my head!”

Excel

A number of people commented on how they were learning more about Excel as they used it in the learning tasks of our assignment:

“I found this task quite enlightening as I do love fiddling around with Excel and having little missions to complete! I learnt a few little tricks along the way…”

And it was great to see many people sharing tips and ideas with each other; which helped people as they applied and adapted the concepts and ideas to their own company. Here are some Tips for Step 3 from Kerryn Zimmerman (Distance – Melbourne; Kerryn is studying a Bachelor of Property and a Bachelor of Building Design), who studied this unit with us last year.

Step 4

Now Step 4 was generally well done, although some people forgot to include this step in their submission of their assignment. Also, some people did not use the format for feedback provided in ASS#2 Step 4. When providing feedback in your ASS#2 Step 10, you should make sure you use this format. And it may help you give more focused and considered feedback to others in our unit.

Many people commented on how useful they found the feedback from others, and particularly that it was encouraging and affirming for them; as well as pointing out ways they could improve their ASS#2 Steps 3 & 4:

“If it wasn’t for my peers I would have submitted a very messy looking lot of financials so I found gaining feedback a very helpful thing.”

“I just want … to let you know how much assistance [another student] provided me with Step 3. [Their] detailed feedback helped … me … make changes to my spreadsheet. I was able to get my balance sheet to balance … thank you [student] for all your assistance and I really do appreciate this.”

Some people were a bit scared about being ‘judged’ by their peers for their draft work; but most people quickly got over that and found in the different interactions with others that instead this increased their confidence in their work:

“I guess I am scared of being judged for my work but [other people] don’t care about that, they just want to help you succeed and getting over that fear has helped me a lot. I am glad I did…and just chatting on the assessment forums has increased my confidence a lot.”

Quite a few people expressed some concerns about providing feedback, and how to provide useful, ‘quality’ feedback:

“The task of providing feedback on the restated financial statements in itself was something I initially believed I would struggle with. I perceive myself as quite proficient at providing feedback for written tasks but asking for my thoughts and comments on tasks of a numerical nature was an aspect I was at first not so comfortable with … once I had completed my own restated financial statements and my commentary of the process, I felt a little more adequate to delve into the financial world of my peer’s firms.”

And many people commented that much of the feedback they received simply confirmed their work as being ‘good’; rather than suggesting specific aspects in which it could be improved and strengthened. However, people often said the feedback they received this time was more useful than the previous feedback they had received in ASS#1:

“Now I love receiving feedback on my draft work; however I feel that the feedback I receive is most often a confirmation of what I have done and not a critical analysis of my work itself. I know that some of my peers struggle with reviewing others work as well as completing the tasks required in which feedback is to be provided on; and I think this is reflected in the feedback they deliver. Nonetheless, the feedback provided for this particular step was much more useful than that of ASS#1. I received considerable feedback solely confirming the accuracy of my work … I also received feedback with great tips to ensure my calculations were correct. For instance, [person] suggested it would be wise to calculate the equity balance in the restated financial position statement to ensure this item was calculated correctly instead of linking this back to the original balance statement. Another peer, also highlighted a discrepancy in my restated equity statement that led to great discussions with my peers and an even deeper understanding of my firm. Overall, the receiving of feedback was a great confidence boost and assisted in ensuring my restated financial statements were correct (well, I hope they are).

And you know what? The main benefit in sharing feedback with others is not for the person receiving the feedback. Rather, the main benefit is for the person giving the feedback.

Why might this be? Well, a number of people found that as they were looking at other people’s work and giving their feedback against the marking criteria they realised areas in which they could improve their own work. And also, when we seek to explain something to others, this can greatly help us to understand it better for ourselves.

Also, many people commented on how valuable they found discussions with others. People met up with one or two people face to face, instant messaged and chatted with a few people on line, and also observed and participated in discussions on the Moodle discussion forums and on Facebook.

It is becoming clearer to many people that giving thoughtful, reflective, actionable feedback to others is a key and critical part of our learning process:

Nevertheless, I personally deem the giving of feedback a much more significant component in my learning process. Critically reviewing another’s work entails you to think beyond that of your own firm and understand how the concepts and actions you have just learnt can be applied elsewhere. I found it a fantastic tool for the restatement of financial statements to ensure I had a satisfactory grasp on what was required and the checks that ensured each restated statement balanced. When providing feedback I had my own spreadsheet open which enabled me to remember to complete each ‘check’ to confirm the statements balanced, but also provided me with the opportunity to compare the sections my peers allocated items to either operating or financial activities, the headings applied, and any possible areas I myself might have missed or could use improvement. I was even quite excited when I was able to identify minor errors in my peer’s statements and provided them with the required information to fix these errors, as it highlighted my actual understanding of the work required. Reviewing multiple peer’s work was a great way to put into practice my newfound skills and continue on my learning journey to have a true appreciation and understanding of what operating activities and financial activities actually entail.”

A small number of people tried to complete their ASS#2 ‘solo’, without meaningfully connecting with others in the unit. This was quite sad to see, as people can get quite stressed about their ASS#2 Step 3; and if you do, it is not good to have no-one to discuss and share issues with that you face. If this is you, please email me at m.turner@cqu.edu.au and we can discuss about how to best support you through the remainder of the unit and how you can better engage and connect with others in our unit.

Although some people found the online discussion forums and comments on each other’s blogs unhelpful, the overwhelming majority of people in the unit found the experience of discussing aspects of their ASS#2 with others (either online or f2f), with work colleagues or family and friends to be very helpful to solve problems and to help us understand what different items were in our firm’s financial statements.  And many found the discussions (and to be learning this way with and from each other) to be rather enjoyable.

Unit evaluations

Also, you may have noticed a big red button ‘Have your say’ has appeared on the top left hand side of Moodle.  Thank you to those who have already completed your student survey. The university (and I) expect at least 50% of people in our unit will complete it.  All you need to do is complete the first question, if you wish. If you have not already completed your survey, please go onto Moodle and ‘have your say’.  We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

PeerWise

Image result for peerwise on the phone

And as you have completed your ASS#2 Steps 3 & 4, do not forget about PeerWise. It is ‘calling’ you to write, answer and comment on questions about the readings for Week 9 (Chapter 6); and Week 10 (Chapter 7):

“I hope that everyone else is travelling well with their spreadsheets, I am going to try watch a movie but I already know I will just think about Peerwise, so I will probably just do that while I eat ice-cream.”

We also look forward to reading your ASS#2 Step 5. This involves you writing down some of your ideas, reflections and reactions to reading Chapter 7 Budget for the Short Term in the Study Guide.

We will also enjoy working with you, as you prepare the remaining steps in ASS#2 over the next few weeks; and as we continue to explore whether accounting can help or hinder us to better understand what is going on in our firms.

Regards, Martin

May 2018

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