Dr. Paul Madsen
Dr. Paul Madsen's use of the board game Monopoly and his innovative grading system helped earn him the 2014 Judy Fisher Teaching with Technology Award.

Accounting professor receives Judy Fisher Award

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Paul Madsen, an Assistant Professor at the Fisher School of Accounting, was named the recipient of the 2014 Judy Fisher Teaching with Technology Award.

The award is given annually to the Warrington College of Business Administration professor whose teaching best exemplified the use of technology over the past year.

“Receiving this award has been flattering and validating,” Dr. Madsen said. “I invest a lot in my teaching and, like most professors, the only feedback I typically receive is from students. While student feedback is valuable, it is very gratifying to be recognized by the esteemed members of the College’s Teaching Committee.”

Dr. Madsen was honored for his work in his Financial Accounting class, a graduate-level, introductory course. He uses the board game Monopoly to teach his students the basics of managing a firm, including decision-making and preparing financial statements. Later in the course, the students change roles and become investors, and analyze their classmates’ companies for a possible investment.

Dr. Madsen’s class has more than 150 students, and because each student’s assignment is so unique, properly grading each student’s work is especially difficult.

“To grade all of the accounting work my Monopoly assignment required, I hired three teaching assistants,” Dr. Madsen said. “I was not satisfied with this system because I thought there was too much subjectivity and variation in the grades given by the TAs. After that first difficult experience, I turned to technology to help me continue using the Monopoly simulation while also making the grading more manageable and fair.”

Dr. Madsen designed a program using Visual Basic in Microsoft Excel to automate the grading of the assignments. The program encompasses a simple, four-step process where students record their company’s transactions on a spreadsheet, transfer those transactions into a double-entry ledger on another spreadsheet to attain a trial balance, modify the entries to arrive at an adjusted trial balance and use those figures to create financial statements.

“Taking the students’ accounting journal as given, the grading program prepares idealized versions of the ledger and financial statements,” Dr. Madsen said. “By comparing the idealized versions with the versions prepared by the students, the program grades the quality of their work at very low cost and with perfect objectivity. In addition to grading assignments, the program enables me to provide customized feedback to students which they can use to learn from their mistakes.”

“Dr. Madsen managed to turn one of the most dreaded courses in the master’s program into one of the most exciting and highly rated ones,” said jcpenney Professor Dr. Richard Lutz, Chair of the Teaching Committee.  “By using the game of Monopoly as a basis for generating income statements and balance sheets, Dr. Madsen was able to vividly demonstrate the relevance of these financial statements, as well as capitalizing on his student’s competitive instincts.”

Dr. Madsen, who joined the College’s faculty in 2010, was awarded the Fisher School’s J. Michael Cook Excellence in Teaching Award recognizing superior performance in teaching in 2013. His research interests are financial accounting, financial reporting regulation, accounting standards, 19th and 20th century history of accounting, the origins of accounting, diversity of the accounting profession, and accounting labor markets.

Dr. Madsen received a Ph.D. in Accounting from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in 2010, and a Bachelor of Science in Finance (2002) and a Master of Science in Finance (2005) from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

The Judy Fisher Teaching with Technology Award helps encourage the College to continually innovate in the field of teaching with technology. The award was established in memory of Judy Fisher, Ph.D. She joined the faculty in January 2001 as an Instructional Technologist and was the first person ever employed by Warrington to bridge the gap between the faculty and technology staff. As a unit highly dependent on advanced technologies, Fisher’s background (a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology, coupled with more than 25 years of business consulting in instructional design) enabled her to have a profound effect on teaching with technology. The College is proud to honor Fisher, who passed away in July 2007, and her many contributions to the teaching and learning environment through this annual award.