Paul Maughan – Accounting

09 December 2013

Maughan was one of the main drivers behind the introduction of a capstone course, Business Analysis and Governance, for undergraduate students in the Chartered Accounting stream. It was designed in response to the introduction of a new competency framework by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to enhance pervasive skills, or what UCT refers to as "graduate attributes".

The head of the college called the course an "outstanding success" and said that in his 20 years at UCT he'd never seen undergraduate students engage in the way they had to any single course. The success was attributed to Maughan's ability to challenge students to deal with the real business world, and to encourage them to participate by using a variety of novel teaching methodologies. These included a merger and acquisition project in which groups competed against each other; a JSE share trading competition using real companies as case studies for exams; and the explicit promotion of pervasive skills within the course.

The course's success was capped by excellent student evaluations. During the final lecture, in which winning teams gave an ‘Idols-style' presentation, Maughan was given a standing ovation by the 2012 class.

Maughan's teaching philosophy is underpinned by a fundamental insight: Ken Bain's view that effective teaching results in deep learning, and that this is best achieved through the disruption of existing mental models.

If students can be quickly confronted by the fact that they do not have the necessary mental models to deal with a scenario, they are more receptive to learning, and more likely to retain that enhanced mental model. Maughan teaches his students that it's not only necessary to learn the tools related to finance and accounting, but also to have an awareness of the tools that other disciplines offer.

He is lauded as an excellent teacher with an ability to influence students beyond the classroom. One student wrote of Maughan: "Teaching isn't just being able to give out content; for me it's a lecturer who is able to stir me up to learn, read, and have a passion for learning more, and Paul exhibits all these qualities."

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