For us—Margaret Shackell of Ithaca College, Emma Cole of the University of Montevallo, and Kimberly Zahller of Appalachian State University—the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Management Accounting Competency Framework is a key teaching resource (see Figure 1). Here, we elaborate on ways to help students learn the material and be practice ready. 





We have each chosen parts of our courses that we consider unique: things that we do that you may not be doing in your classroom. We link our content to primarily free IMA content that allows professors to develop student competencies through the curriculum across the entire competency map.


Margaret Shackell discusses how her students’ desire to give each other real-time feedback following presentations allowed those students to increase not only their communication skills, but also their collaboration and motivation skills. Emma Cole discusses her elaborate use of cases, podcasts, and articles to deepen students’ understanding of reporting and control, technology and analytics, and professional ethics and values. Kimberly Zahller discusses how she creatively uses podcasts and other resources to enrich and enhance the course curriculum through what she calls “threads.” In other words, students in her class need to synthesize resources to enrich their learning and earn extra credit. 






I’m going to talk about something extraordinary that happened this past semester, and how that will influence my use of materials and teaching of competencies going forward. I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years, and every once in a while I have a class or a semester that’s unlike any other. This past spring semester was like that for me. It started out like any other semester in which I teach cost analysis. Half of the students were seniors, and half were juniors. I assigned them three presentations: 1) leading a case from the IMA Educational Case Journal (IECJ®); 2) a podcast from IMA’s Count Me In podcast series; and 3) a competency from the IMA Management Accounting Competency Framework. In my mind, these presentations would help them learn communication skills.


I had targeted them to learn at least basic knowledge: “Organize and present thoughts, information, and facts logically.” A few classes into the semester I did a KSQ feedback segment. KSQ stands for “keep, start, quit.” I hand out a paper with those three letters on it and ask them three questions: 1) What should we KEEP doing that is going well? 2) What should we START doing that we aren’t doing? and 3) What should we QUIT doing that we’re currently doing? The feedback from the students was “We’d like real-time feedback at the end of each presentation.” I was surprised, but the students in the class seemed keen, so I decided to try it.


It was amazing. Not only did these students enhance their basic knowledge of presenting content logically, but they also worked on many of the higher-level skills in communications. They listened effectively, asked questions, and expressed concerns. They tailored their communication to diverse audiences, recognized differences in others’ communication styles and adjusted, and were able to give positive and negative feedback in a very sensitive manner. The students made engaging presentations and worked to optimize their messaging tone and timing. They answered difficult questions on why they made the choices that they did, and they coached others on how to communicate effectively. In reviewing the skills that a communication champion has, my students worked on all of them this semester.


It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me and for them. When reflecting back on this experience, I noticed that no longer were they just improving on the communications competency, they were also working on the competencies “Motivating and inspiring others” and “Collaboration, teamwork, and relationship management.” Some of the key components that I saw developing were: identifying strengths and areas of growth for team members, recognizing differences in personality style and preferences when motivating team members, providing effective advice and feedback to enable individual contributors to achieve goals and improve performance, consideration of emotions on communication and interaction with others, providing positive feedback as appropriate, inspiring others to perform to their full potential, leading by example, communicating in a respectful and consistent manner, listening proactively to others, providing constructive feedback, and serving as a role model in thinking outside the business areas to identify opportunities.





I can’t take credit for this, but I will now work to see how I can make this be as great for my students in the future as it was this past semester. My plan for next year is to incorporate this feedback into the course. I’ll explain what happened this year and how effective it was at drastically increasing the quality of the presentations. I’ll link to the other competencies that I discussed here and show how learning to give and receive this level of feedback can help them with collaboration and motivating and inspiring others. I’m quite excited to see if I can replicate this success in future years.


If you’re thinking of doing this in your class, here are some caveats. This was a small class. I only had 15 students in the course. While there was racial and ethnic diversity, there was no gender diversity—all the students were male. I’m not sure if that contributed to the camaraderie and comfort with feedback, but it’s possible. A final thing that helped was that the best-performing student went first and set really high standards for presentations. I hope you’ll consider adding instantaneous feedback to your course. If you do, please contact me and let me know the result.




As I prepare my students to be transformational leaders, I utilize a variety of IMA resources to help strengthen their technical and interpersonal competencies. I would like to share a few ways that I use IMA resources to reinforce the competencies of the Reporting & Control, Technology & Analytics, and Professional Values & Ethics domains in my cost accounting, intermediate accounting, accounting information systems, and tax classes.


Financial recordkeeping and preparation: The Pathway Commission emphasizes that the accounting process isn’t black and white and requires a great deal of critical thinking. What happens when you’re faced with ambiguous or unique situations that require complex interpretations of accounting standards? How do you handle the pressure from a boss or colleague to report information that doesn’t appear to align with accounting principles when the guidance isn’t definitive? How does the constantly evolving business landscape impact what information is needed and how it’s communicated? To give students experience in critical thinking about reporting and control, I use IECJ cases, Strategic Finance articles, and Count Me In podcasts. IECJ ethics case studies, such as “Principal or Agent? A Case of Managerial Judgment in Reporting Revenue” and “Disclosure Strategy: A Case of Ethics in Financial Reporting” (March 2022), help prepare students for situations they may encounter as new professionals.


Using the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice with these cases helps expand students’ analytical and ethical mindsets. Strategic Finance articles like The Importance of Transparency reinforce the competencies needed to meet the expectations of various stakeholders. IMA Count Me In podcasts, such as Serving as a Co-pilot for the Business Transformation Journey, allow students to hear directly from business leaders on current opportunities and challenges. These articles and podcasts provide rich, relevant content for student engagement and class discussions. The incorporation of IMA case studies, articles, and podcasts not only fosters the skills needed to record, analyze, and communicate financial information but also promotes a better understanding of management accountants’ roles and responsibilities in facilitating and/or influencing decisions within and about their organizations.


Cost accounting: Organizations are navigating through a myriad of challenges, such as inflation, supply chain constraints, and changing consumer preferences. Responding to such challenges in a cost-effective but also ethical way is a key consideration for future decision makers. The Strategic Finance article CFOs Prepare for 2023 noted that “CFOs will need to adjust their teams’ and organizations’ tactics and strategy in response to such challenges, making difficult choices and seeking opportunities for increased efficiency, innovation, and growth despite various hurdles.” To be effective team members, our students will be more than conveyors of information; they’ll be strategic business partners. Other Strategic Finance articles, such as Becoming a Trusted Business Partner and Design Thinking for Innovation, and Count Me In podcasts, such as Financial Transformation at Discover, highlight the importance of going beyond providing decision-supporting information to driving value within their organizations.


Additionally, I use older IECJ cases in new ways to help students develop their business acumen. After completing the “Cat & Joe’s Pig Rig: Should We Stay, or Should We Go?” (September 2014) case, students leveraged cost-volume-profit analysis to assist a local food truck owner. Applying the process covered in “Using the Balanced Scorecard to Assess and Enhance Magna PC’s Performance” case (June 2020), students worked with companies to develop balanced scorecards. Students utilized the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice and “Sunk Costs: What Costs Do You Sea?” case (September 2014) to understand the importance of employing ethical decision making.


Tax compliance and planning: Incorporating IMA articles and case studies into tax courses illustrates the significant role tax planning and strategy activities play in many management-related decisions. IECJ case studies, such as “Golden State Elixirs: Should We Obtain a Canna-Business License?” (September 2019), demonstrate the interdependent relationship between tax and management accounting by exploring the legal, regulatory, and financial aspects of business decisions. Strategic Finance articles, such as Taxation of Gig Income and Tax Year 2022 Filing Issues enhance class discussions by adding relevance to individual and business taxation concepts.


Integrated reporting: In Strategic Finance, Kristine M. Brands and Mark Holtzblatt highlighted the need to “integrate ESG [environmental, social, and governance] accounting into [the] curriculum to equip today’s accounting students with the skills to face climate change challenges,” aid organization in the reporting of “nonfinancial risks and opportunities,” and provide decision-supporting information to “address innovation, risk management, and resource allocation decisions” (ESG in the Accounting Curriculum). IMA provides a wide variety of cases, articles, and podcasts to support the integration of ESG concepts. My students really enjoyed learning how to balance the demands of people, profit, and planet using “Coffee Supply Chains’ Sustainable Impact: A Case Study” (IECJ, June 2022). Based on a real project from global nonprofit Enactus, this case shows how students can make a difference. Podcasts, such as Bringing Sustainable Practices to the Food Industry and A Guide to Reducing a Carbon Footprint provide additional examples to aid students in the evaluation of case alternatives. This case also incorporates a variety of resources, including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board guidance and Greenhouse Gas Protocol tools. Additionally, articles, such as The Ethics of ESG, encourage students to consider the factors that influence ESG initiatives and the ethical implications of ESG reporting.


Technology and analytics: With technology blurring the lines between functional domains, accounting and finance professionals must constantly adapt to remain relevant in a silo-less, data-driven environment. Loreal Jiles wrote in Strategic Finance that professionals must continuously develop the competencies necessary to “be well-positioned to play leading roles in finance transformations, deliver greater strategic decision support through higher value-added tasks, and occupy those roles that will be created or transformed by technology advances” (Embrace Tech, Upskill for Career Success).


IMA articles, research papers, and podcasts present the latest news on emerging and disruptive technologies. IMA case studies allow students to examine the impact of these changes on risk management, internal controls, information systems, and business processes. An updated version of “Pelarsen Windows: Humans v. Robots” (IECJ, September 2008) was used to discuss the latest developments in robotics and AI and examine the social and political implication of automation at companies like McDonald’s and General Motors. One IMA resource that truly stands out with my students is the free online training. My university paid for IMA student memberships for our accounting students. As part of their memberships, students had access to two online courses: the IMA Data Analytics & Visualization Fundamentals Certificate® and IMARPA (Robotic Process Automation) Series. Students receive digital badges that they can share on LinkedIn and other social networking platforms in addition to increasing their digital acumen and enhancing their technical skills.




I teach intermediate-level cost accounting at Appalachian State University. The course is required for accounting majors and minors and is an elective for other programs (including nonbusiness programs). As a required course, the content is largely predetermined by the range of topics and the assurance of learning goals and measures that we, as a department, have selected. We cover the same basic cost accounting topics that are covered at every institution (with minor differences, such as the decision regarding whether to cover process costing or not): topics that are well supported by published textbooks and their online homework systems.


Because these topics are well covered in available materials, I use IMA resources to enrich and enhance the course. I am somewhat constrained by which resources are free for members and academics, as we don’t require students in this course to purchase an IMA student membership (students in my Advanced Management Accounting class, which intensively uses a variety of IMA materials, are required to do so). During the COVID-19 pandemic, while classes were online, I made many of these enrichment activities mandatory to substitute for in-class discussion and exposure to industry speakers that were missing in that period of isolation.


I use threads to provide extra-credit opportunities for students. At the beginning of each semester, I determine three to four enrichment threads around which to build an extra-credit assignment, and I review the podcast library for recent episodes. In the past few semesters, extra-credit threads that I’ve had students write about have included sustainability, emerging trends, career development, professionalism and ethics, and the role of technology. These threads may represent each of the six domains of the IMA Management Accounting Competency Framework and often focus specifically on areas such as ethics and leadership that are missing in textbooks. Each thread will have a group of three to five specific podcasts; if there are many recent podcasts on that topic, I may list them all and allow the students to make their own selection. Students are required to listen to the group of podcasts and then to write around 350 to 400 words on what they learned or found interesting.


The essays are informal in nature, but I require that they’re proofread and grammatically correct; I deduct for multiple errors of grammar, punctuation, or spelling. I specifically state that I don’t want a “book report”—I can listen to the podcasts myself—but instead I want to see that the students are making connections or applying the topic to their own situations. I have had some outstanding essays from students who never said a word in class but who clearly were thinking deeply about the podcasts and drawing relevant parallels to their own careers, education, or life experiences.


I make sure that I keep the rubric simple (see Table 1). The goal is to encourage interest. I prefer to have the student enter the response directly into the assignment link in my learning management system, which also gives me a space to write general comments, words of encouragement, or suggestions for following up on a new interest. My goal in these assignments is to introduce students to the broad range of issues, opportunities, and careers in accounting. There are so many more options than just audit and tax. Our students get the “how” of accounting from their textbook and lectures. The podcast assignments are designed to provide the “why” and to provide the context of how those chapters apply to real-world situations and organizations. 





The primary content for these extra-credit threads is the Count Me In podcast. It has interviews with a variety of engaging speakers, and the topics are timely and interesting, and can range from career advice to the advanced discussion of emerging trends in accounting. The podcast meets disability access requirements with an available transcript, can be accessed on a variety of podcast platforms, doesn’t require a membership to access, and has links that can be embedded in your class website. I do screen for podcasts that are of interest to students and entry-level accountants, as some are more technical or more applicable to midcareer or later accountants. I consider TED Talks as well. They frequently have good shows on career development and ethics, for example.


It can be hard to find good accounting content for emerging professionals. If you do decide to use a combination of resources, bear in mind that you need to ensure that there’s an easily accessible transcript for students with hearing difficulties. Students will listen to podcasts as they travel or move between classes; it’s harder to do that with videos, and mixing audio and video resources may feel disjointed to them. I want to enrich my students’ understanding of what accounting is and to engage their curiosity. And if I can get them in the habit of independent professional learning, that’s even better.


We hope that these ideas inspire you to add new materials and assignments to your courses for the upcoming year. We find that podcasts, cases, and articles are great ways to push students beyond the textbook material, keep them and us up to date, allow for creativity, stress the importance of analytics and ethics, and cover the competencies. If you’ve got great ideas, don’t hesitate to contact us.

About the Authors