This study examines whether cooperative learning can improve the learning outcomes of students in a passive learning environment. One hundred seventy‐two accounting students who were attending a major Hong Kong university participated in this study. Using a 2 × 2 between‐subjects experimental design, this study finds that students who were taught using a cooperative learning approach significantly outperformed those who were taught using a traditional lecture format. Moreover, the results of this study indicate that the students in cooperative learning sessions performed significantly better in answering indirect application‐type questions than those in traditional lecture sessions. Overall, the results of this experiment suggest that cooperative learning is an effective teaching pedagogy for delivering accounting topics in a passive learning environment. The implications of this study for accounting education and the directions for future research are also discussed.

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