Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Practice or theory? A phenomenographic study of teachers’
perceptions of teaching auditing in higher education

Whittaker, Susan


Susan Whittaker


In recent years the business world has become more complex and the role of the professional auditor has had to change in order to address this increasing complexity. What had been seen as a technical compliance role has now evolved to include higher level skills such as evaluating risk and director’s judgement. Critics have expressed concern that university auditing courses have not changed in line with the business world and that they largely deal with teaching a practical process and do not encourage students to question and challenge.
This phenomenographic study explores how auditing is taught via an exploration of the experiences of fifteen teachers who teach auditing within higher education degree courses. However, this study does not attempt to provide an objective understanding of teaching auditing, or to tell teachers what they should teach. Rather, the aim is to stimulate teachers to reflect upon their own teaching by presenting them with accounts of the experiences of others. These experiences can then be used by the teacher to provide insights regarding how their own teaching and that of others might be improved.
The research highlights the extent to which teacher perception of the subject matter of Auditing and expected student learning outcomes can have a profound impact upon the pedagogic approach taken. The variation in the way the subject matter is viewed highlighted that some teachers see only a practical professional subject whilst others also perceive an underlying theoretical basis that can be used to question and challenge audit, and these differences in perception appear to impact upon both how teachers interact with and are influenced by accounting professional bodies and how teachers conceive of and approach their own teaching.
Dissonance is a key feature within this study. In this study, dissonance is experienced by teachers as a mis-match between their conceptions of how auditing should be taught and their reflections upon their own experiences of teaching aauditing. Dissonance is seen to be complex and it is noted that some teachers appear to be able to overcome perceived difficulties whereas others cannot.
The use of a phenomenographic study in this thesis provides a contribution to knowledge by extending and developing what is currently known about teaching to the discipline of Auditing. Implications for future research are also explored.


perceptions of teaching auditing in higher education. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Feb 10, 2014
Keywords audit, higher education, teaching, learning, phenomenography, dissonance


Downloadable Citations