Financial accounting textbooks introduce the journalizing process in varying ways. Some texts emphasize the accounting equation, others do not. Some begin with a restricted set of transactions affecting only balance sheet accounts, whereas others begin with an expanded set of transactions affecting both balance sheet and income statement accounts. Based on Scaffolding Theory, we examine the potential effects of these variations on student learning. We conducted a field experiment that randomly assigned students to one of six learning conditions that varied the requirement to document accounting equation effects (before or after each journal entry, or not at all) and the scope of transactions (restricted versus expanded). Analyses indicated that students were initially more successful in journalizing transactions if they explicitly considered accounting equation effects, but these benefits faded over a one-week period. Also, students initially introduced to a restricted scope of transactions were more successful in journalizing transactions that involved balance sheet accounts. These immediate benefits assisted students later when journalizing more complex transactions involving balance sheet and income statement accounts; improved initial instruction compensated for less practice with more complex material.

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