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Ethical Decision Making: A Reflection and Application in Multiple Financial Accounting Dilemmas

R. Cameron Cockrell, Assistant Professor, Accounting.
Mentor, Dr. Adam Bange, Chemistry

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Dr. Adam Bange in Chemistry for his direction throughout the Ignatian Mentoring Program. His insight guided much of how I implemented my ideas in the classroom. I am most grateful for his mentorship on this project.


Although I did not begin working on this project until the current academic year, in many ways, the process began three and a half years ago. During that time, I was preparing to interview at Xavier. As I familiarized myself with the University, and spoke with some of the faculty members to gain a better sense of what XU was all about, I was struck by the degree of alignment between my teaching philosophy and the mission and vision of Xavier. A closer evaluation and study of the language used in those statements emphasized that where there were differences, they were slight. Within those statements, the University seemed to use slightly different words to convey similar, albeit subtly different, ideals to those of my personal philosophy. It became clear that these subtle yet important differences were rooted in Ignatian Spirituality. It is against this backdrop that I began thinking about how to bring more of the Ignatian philosophy into a Principles of Financial Accounting classroom.

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Using Ignatian Values to Resolve an Ethical Dilemma in Accounting

Megan Jones, Ph.D.
Mentor: Alan Jin, Ph.D. (Business Analytics and Info Systems)

While accountants have a responsibility to accurately measure and communicate financial
information, they may face pressure to report financial results in a more favorable manner. In my
financial accounting courses, I have primarily focused on the necessity of reporting financial
information accurately so that financial statement users, such as investors and creditors, can
make well-informed decisions. I also typically discuss some of the larger, well-known
accounting scandals that have occurred. However, as I reflected on previous assignments related
to ethical issues in my courses, I wondered if I was truly achieving my overarching objective. Do
students leave my class more prepared to handle ethical issues when they begin their careers?
The Ignatian Mentoring Program (IMP) provided me with the opportunity to become more
familiar with the Ignatian values that are core to our Jesuit heritage at Xavier. As I thought about
my main goal for including ethical issues in my courses, I found these Ignatian values to be
extremely relevant. From that perspective, I revised an existing project in my ACCT 307
(Financial Accounting & Reporting I) course to incorporate Ignatian values into the process of
resolving an ethical issue in accounting.

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Incorporating Reflection into the Accounting Capstone Course

Michele Matherly, Ph.D.Michele Matherly, Ph.D.
Mentor, David Burns, D.B.A. (Marketing)


I appreciate the opportunity to spend time exploring and gaining a richer understanding of Jesuit Education and Ignation Pedagogy. I also want to thank my mentor Dr. David Burns for his time and guidance throughout my participation in the Ignation Mentoring Program.

Reflection and Accounting

According to the Xavier University Catalog (p. 15), "The goal of a Jesuit and Catholic education is integration of the intellectual dimension of learning and the spiritual experience of the student, along with the development of a strong system of personal moral values." Reflection is an integral element of the Jesuit educational philosophy. My participation in the Ignation Mentoring Program helped me understand the importance and relevance of reflection. When individuals reflect, they wrestle with complex issues as they search within themselves and their moral character for viable alternatives. I now realize that reflection is a valuable skill for accounting professionals and for training students to become these professionals. Because of their technical expertise, accountants often serve in an advisory capacity for significant business decisions. Accountants educated in the Jesuit tradition are in a unique position to integrate their moral and ethical training into their technical analyses.

During the Spring Semester of 2010, I incorporated two reflection assignments in the accounting capstone course, ACCT 495 Analysis of Accounting Systems. All accounting students are required to complete this course near the end of their undergraduate program. The course stresses topics in accounting information systems, while also integrating issues across all of the accounting functional areas.

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Self-Knowledge and Reflection in the MBA Accounting Classroom

Timothy Miller, Ph.D.
Mentor, Rashmi Assudani, Management and Entrepreneurship

The Goal

Increase reflection, self-knowledge, and accountability in the professor and MBA students.

Environment of the intervention

Accounting 550 is the sole accounting course in the emerging leaders MBA program. The course focuses on analyzing and understanding cost information for use in short and long term decision-making. The students in the course are all future MBAs, typically with between 0 to 3 years of work experience.


All of us as humans suffer what is called the optimism bias. We believe, on average, that we are better than the majority of others at things important to us (e.g. academics) - an obvious mathematical impossibility. We believe, on average, that we are doing better than we are. In regards to us as students, we typically think we have done more work and are more prepared than we may be. In regards to us as teachers or professors, we likely believe that we have performed better, and done more for our students, than may be the case. This may lead us as students to study less than needed, or as professors to prepare less or work less for our students than we should. Self-knowledge gained through reflection and honest assessment may be a way to combat these harmful outcomes.


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