The impact of communication skills as a subject in the programme Cost and management accounting at the Durban University of Technology
Naidoo, Suntharmurthy Kristnasamy
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The aim of this research is to evaluate the communication proficiency of students studying Cost and Management Accounting (CMA) and to assess whether the subject communication, as a course, is having any positive influence on students who are lacking critical thinking and literacy skills. It is necessary to analyse the factors affecting communication because of the diversity of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) students coming from different cultural, ethnic and geographic backgrounds before evaluating the communication proficiency of students. The field of accounting is broadly quantitative in nature, but Management Accounting, although a branch of this broad knowledge is more qualitative in nature. Data analysis, report writing and decision making are fundamental to Management Accounting. The target population for the study was CMA students. This population entails students enrolled for the first time in 2007 and current second and third year students. It was necessary to follow the progress of the 2007 cohort of students to establish whether students were achieving their qualification within the specified three year period as required by the CMA course and whether communication skills were an issue if they were unsuccessful. The objective to include second and third year students registered in the Department of Management Accounting at DUT in 2012 was to acquire current and pertinent information with regard to student perception on the subject relating to communication skills. An analytical type of research approach was used to conduct the study and quantitative data was collected using questionnaires and computer reports to gain an insight into the impact of communication skills as a subject in the CMA programme. The study confirmed that gender and the location of schools played a role in the academic performance of students. The overall performance between the genders revealed that female students performing slightly better than their male counterparts. English First Language (EFL) female students demonstrated much better academic performance than the EFL male students. Irrespective of language differences, if a student had an aptitude and performed well in the English Language at grade 12 or matric, the student has a better chance of being more successful with the CMA programme The number of EFL and English Second Language (ESL) students acknowledging that the English language affected them in obtaining better grades in CMA was fifty one per cent. Since the second and third year CMA students perceive that their lecturers were unaware of their poor understanding of the English language after completing the subject Communication Skills in the first year of study indicates that the subject is not having the desired affect. Both EFL and ESL students also acknowledged the vital role that Communication Skills play in education, social and economic development. This study, inter alia, recommends a screening of new students for English proficiency and providing academic support for students who have problem with literacy skills. It also recommends increasing the subject content of Communication Skills and extending the duration from one semester to two semesters.