Stop Getting “Because I Said So!!!” Answers

Because I Said So answers do not generally come from the accounting instructors; they do often come from the accounting material.
A “because I said so” answer is an answer that has no explanation. We have all experienced and given a “because I said so” answer from time to time, and they are useful from time to time, often when we have limited time to act, but they are not generally helpful in education because the point of education is to learn the why.
In other words, the point of education is not to get the answers but to understand the right questions and an approach to solving them.
The most traditional educational resource is an instructor and some degree of one on one communication, a dialog.
As class sizes grow, however, institutions are moving away from a traditional instructor as the center of their educational model, relying more heavily on electronic resources.
Books are the classic supplement for an instructor and books are great, but they have their limitations due to the format of the book. Only so much information can fit on a page. The book cannot respond back to questions in the same way an instructor can.
Most book questions are formatted in multiple choice or short answer format because this is the format the lends itself best to a book.
Many institutions are moving away from a physical textbook into an online database. The online textbook has many of the same pros and cons as a physical book, but the database has other advantages such as automatic grading options and a way to sort questions quickly.
A database program and sort and grade multiple choice questions and short answer question very quickly but is still limited in the type of response it will give. For example, we may learn that the answer to a multiple choice question is C. The answer could also provide a short explanation but the explanation is seldom sufficient to understand a new concept in accounting because the questions we new learners will have are related to how this small piece of information fits into the big picture; what is the point, the reason for learning this piece of information.
The format of questions most institutions assign is driven by the technology they use to distribute rather than the format best for facilitating learning. The database program is great at giving multiple choice and short answer questions, but these are not the questions best for learning.
A good strategy for learning new accounting concepts is to look for more comprehensive problems that show the big picture, working them multiple times until we understand the new concept, and then going to the database program to practice those tricky multiple-choice questions. This method will stop us from merely memorizing for a short term and move us to understanding and memorizing for the long term.

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