Who knew that assembling treat bags for children in crisis would double as an accounting lesson?
Students in a managerial accounting class taught by Amy Foshee Holmes, assistant professor of accounting at Trinity University, learned how to complete a “production cost report” by filling snack bags with candy and then filling out a worksheet to record the cost of the “day’s” production. Two production runs took place consecutively, giving students an opportunity to see and think differently, and critically, about the process.
In all, Holmes’ students assembled 62 Valentine's Day treat sacks that she delivered to the St. Peter-St. Joseph Children’s Home in San Antonio. The mission of St. PJ’s, as the home is known locally, is to be a “safe and loving refuge for children in crisis.” Holmes showed students a video about the needs of the children before the project.
“I loved assembling the bags,” said Anika Jensen, sophomore accounting major from Palos Verdes, Calif. “It was a great way to learn what Dr. Holmes was teaching us AND give back to the community. The video gave me a real connection to the kids that we were doing this for. It became not just an in-class activity; it became something real and it felt good.”
As a “visual learner,” Jensen said the activity helped her to understand the concept of creating a “production cost report” since she was able to see the raw materials and the work in process.
Johanna Kullenberg Gutierrez, a sophomore accounting major from Mexico City, said watching the video gave her a sense of excitement and purpose. “Knowing that the product we are building was going to such a worthy cause and bringing joy to disadvantaged children in the community gives the project purpose beyond the classroom and makes us feel good about being a part of something bigger,” she said.
Gutierrez said the activity was directly related to what the class was learning in accounting and helped make the topic interesting.
Jensen added that “accounting has always been beyond the numbers for me. I think the reason people find accounting so boring or hard is because they only look at the numbers themselves. For me it helps to think of where the number is coming from. That’s why I loved this activity so much.”
Holmes said she selected the Valentine’s Day activity as a method to mentor students in a way that encourages them to be involved in serving their communities. Last fall, her class conducted a Halloween project for children and she plans to incorporate a similar activity to connect Trinity students with the San Antonio community every semester.