Comparing accounting students’ instructional preferences: Australia and Zimbabwe

Seedwell T.M. Sithole, Indra Abeysekera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the instructional preferences exhibited by students in an Australian and a Zimbabwean setting, and how cultural conditioning can reflect in the instructional design choice.
Using graphical and textual presentations of an experiment with three instructional designs and 217 undergraduate students, this study empirically examines student understanding of financial accounting in the two countries. Students’ performance scores and reported mental effort ratings were used to determine the instructional preference.
The findings of this comparative study show that Australian accounting students prefer graph and text designs aligned with a low power distance (PD) while Zimbabwean students prefer graph and text designs associated with a high PD.
Research limitations/implications
The sample used in this study came from first-year undergraduate students studying introductory accounting at two different universities from two different countries (Australia and Zimbabwe). The results may not be generalisable to other universities although similar patterns were found to be consistent with students’ cultural orientations. In addition, there may be other factors that motivate students’ learning and affect their performance and that should therefore be considered.
Practical implications
The results suggest that students learning in different cultural contexts learn better with different instructional formats, requiring educators to consider different formats of instructional material.
This study is the first to offer accounting educators insights on one major dimension of cultural variation, using instructional material designed according to cognitive load theory principles in a cross-cultural context.

Keywords: accounting, Australian, culture, instructional preferences, Zimbabwean
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Education in Business
Issue number1
Early online date6 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


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