Relating Case Presentation Style and Level of Student Knowledge to Fact Acquisition and Application in Accounting Case Analyses

Posted: 25 Apr 2001

See all articles by Jeff Gobeil

Jeff Gobeil

Ernst & Young, LLP

Fred Phillips

University of Saskatchewan


We examine how the presentation of accounting cases in narrative (i.e., story-based) or expository (i.e., fact-based) style combines with the level of student knowledge to affect two key dimensions of accounting case analyses: acquisition and application of relevant case facts.

Results from an experiment with 210 undergraduate students in an introductory financial accounting class indicated that level of student knowledge (measured by course grade) was associated with the acquisition of accounting case facts through a statistically significant main effect. That is, high-knowledge students acquired a greater number of relevant facts from an accounting case than low-knowledge students. The main effect of case presentation style and its interactive effect with student knowledge on case-fact acquisition were not statistically significant.

In a subsequent problem-solving task, the interaction between case presentation style and student knowledge level exerted a statistically significant effect on the application of accounting case facts. Specifically, low-knowledge students were better able to apply relevant case facts when the case was presented in narrative rather than expository style, whereas high-knowledge students performed equally well regardless of case presentation style. Implications of these results for instructors' case-selection decisions are discussed, and directions for future research are outlined.

Keywords: Case format; Knowledge application

JEL Classification: M40, A22

Suggested Citation

Gobeil, Jeff and Phillips, Fred, Relating Case Presentation Style and Level of Student Knowledge to Fact Acquisition and Application in Accounting Case Analyses. Issues in Accounting Education, May 2001. Available at SSRN:

Jeff Gobeil

Ernst & Young, LLP ( email )

P.O. Box 4500
Station B US Corporate Tax Group
Montreal, Quebec H3B 5J3

Fred Phillips (Contact Author)

University of Saskatchewan ( email )

Edwards School of Business
25 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A7
306-966-8401 (Phone)
306-966-2514 (Fax)


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