Big Data Gives Accounting Students the Competitive Edge

Research Project Teaches Important Cutting-Edge Skills

Accounting majors at Marist have a challenging curriculum but in the process, receive skills that will grant them an edge in the job market. Dr. Jade Fang, Associate Professor of Accounting at Marist, has had his students engage in research projects that involve using Big Data for this very reason.

This scientific research focuses on current issues in accounting, including Business Ethics, SPSS software, Application of Big Data and Analytics in Accounting, Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Conversion, and other accounting related skills.  

For the past 10 years, Fang has been teaching his students through conducting research, online courses seminars, and conferences on all of these various topics. He works with his students on their assigned research projects in order for them to fully develop their skills.

“Currently, there is a huge demand for accounting graduates possessing any of the aforementioned skills,” he explained. “I am very confident that after completing the Capping course, most of my students will master a combination of some, maybe even all of these advanced skills.”

It was decided to implement big data into the Marist accounting curriculum by leaders of the school, including President Dennis Murray, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas Wermuth, and Dean of the School of Management Lawrence Singleton. Fang teaches the Accounting Capping course that features big data. “I am just taking this opportunity to run the first experiment to explore the most practical and efficient way to incorporate these much-needed skills into our curriculum in the future,” Fang explained.

Matthew Jaroszewski, a senior Accounting major and current student of Fang, was first introduced to big data in his 300 level Management Information Systems course. Now, he is working with big data in accounting as a topic for a group project for his 400 level Current Issues in Accounting class. The class began by practicing manipulating randomly generated data in Excel. Formulas are used to measure changes so that they can extract useful information and from there, they continue by using data that has been filtered from daily closing prices of numerous stock exchanges from around the world.

Jaroszewski talked highly of the benefits of big data and the skills that come from utilizing it. “I definitely feel that there is a lot that can be learned through analyzing big data and that anyone who is capable of doing so will have an advantage, even if perhaps only temporary as analytic technology eventually becomes more prevalent and accessible,” Jaroszewski said. “Even so, there is so much information that can be derived from big data that failure to properly utilize it is like flushing precious resources down the drain.”

For their class, Dr. Fang was able to speak with IBM and have the company grant access to his students to IBM’s Watson Analytics that will later be used to run analytic tests on sample data.

Over the course of the semester, students in the class have learned as much as possible about Scientific Research Design, how to conduct empirical research, write a book summary and collect preliminary literature reviews. After the completion of their ensuing exam, they will utilize the rest of the semester to run workshops and presentations on all of the assigned individual and group projects.

When asked how Marist’s accounting program compares to those of other schools, Fang responded honestly. “I am a diehard student of Confucius: I have not, and will never ill-speak of anyone,” he said. “However I am very sure that we are very much ahead of most of our competitors and will be leading the movement for many years to come.” He reiterated that he has attended many Big Data-related seminars, discussions, and conferences and that most of the professionals and specialists who were present were still talking about “3Vs” of Big Data (a three-year-old concept). “I am pushing my students to master the “C4V” level!” he proudly stated. 

 

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17

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