The debate on the effect of teaching ethics to accounting students has continued for decades. Prior studies on the effects of covering specific types of content on student ethics, including ethics theory and professional codes with accounting-specific cases and examples, have produced mixed results. This study examines the impact of a semester long accounting ethics course which incorporates a formal ‘Ethics Education Framework and associated Toolkit’ on students’ ethical development (whether the students’ know what is ethical), sensitivity/awareness (whether the students’ recognize ethical issues) and intent (whether the students’ would take ethical actions). This research differs from other research in this area in that it appears to be the first to measure the benefits of a complete framework, rather than the benefits from just one or two specific types of content. Senior accounting majors completed an accounting ethics course after completing many courses with some integrated ethics content. If integrated ethics content had sufficiently developed students’ ethical development, sensitivity/awareness and intent, completion of this ethics course would not impact students’ measures in these areas. Using a pre-test, post-test design, we found that this ethics course had a statistically significant impact on students’ ethical development, sensitivity/awareness and intent. We find incremental value from an accounting ethics course like this for students in an accounting program with integrated ethics content. The question may not be whether we improve student ethics more by integrating ethics or teaching a stand- alone accounting ethics class, but what ethics content needs to be included in the curriculum to consistently and positively promote ethical action.


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