Training Auditors to Perform Analytical Procedures Using Metacognitive Skills

The Accounting Review

Posted: 22 Jul 2011 Last revised: 26 Mar 2021

See all articles by David Plumlee

David Plumlee

University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business

Brett A. Rixom

University of Nevada, Reno - College of Business

Andrew J. Rosman

Dean, College of Management

Date Written: July 20, 2011

Abstract

Although lower-level auditors increasingly carry out mandatory analytical procedures (APs) in audits, they do not perform as well as partners and managers. In order to improve performance in APs by lower-level auditors, we investigated tasks requiring creativity, where training in metacognition- consciously thinking about one's thought process improves task performance. As a result, we train lower-level auditors to use a sequential thought process comprised of two metacognitive skills: divergent thinking, where they generate explanations for unusual evidence, followed by convergent thinking, where they evaluate explanations generated and eliminate those judged infeasible. To test the efficacy of our training, we conducted an experiment with three conditions: both divergent and convergent thinking, divergent thinking only, and a control. We found that training auditors in only divergent-thinking increases both the number and quality of explanations generated for an unusual situation. However, the combination of divergent- and convergent-thinking training leads to improved explanation generation over divergent thinking alone and, more importantly, leads to a greater likelihood of generating and choosing the correct explanation.

Keywords: metacognition, divergent thinking, convergent thinking, training, analytical procedures, ill-structured tasks

JEL Classification: M4, M40, M41, M49

Suggested Citation

Plumlee, David and Rixom, Brett A. and Rosman, Andrew J., Training Auditors to Perform Analytical Procedures Using Metacognitive Skills (July 20, 2011). The Accounting Review, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1890779 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1890779

David Plumlee

University of Utah - David Eccles School of Business ( email )

1645 E Campus Center Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9303
United States

Brett A. Rixom (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Reno - College of Business ( email )

United States

Andrew J. Rosman

Dean, College of Management ( email )

720 Northern Blvd.
Brookville, NY 11548-0570
United States

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