Conceptual understanding is a fundamental aim of higher education. Persistent calls for reforms to accounting education and research evidence indicate that this is not being demonstrated. The broad aim of this thesis was to investigate ways to support educators to facilitate students' conceptual understanding of accounting. Insights from five dominant higher educational theories, frameworks and models, namely, the threshold concepts framework, students’ approaches to learning theory, the constructive alignment model, a standards model of assessment and the SOLO Taxonomy, informed the design of an intervention exercise. In parallel, these insights were integrated and extended to develop a comprehensive model for facilitating conceptual understanding within the teaching and learning context. This comprehensive model provides a framework to inform future research studies and pedagogical practice and is a key contribution of the thesis.
Another key contribution is a comprehensive evaluation of the efficacy of an intervention exercise to facilitate students’ conceptual understanding of a threshold concept, depreciation, in terms of theory (the comprehensive model) and practice (students’ demonstrated learning outcomes and perceptions of their demonstrated learning outcomes). The intervention exercise was embedded in the curriculum of an introductory accounting unit of study at a leading Australian university. A one-group pre-test - post-test design was used within the case study. Students’ pre-test and post-test responses were analysed using a contextualised SOLO taxonomy, while their reflective activity responses were thematically analysed. Pre-intervention, 35.0% of students demonstrated conceptual understanding of depreciation, compared with 57.4% post-intervention; a pedagogically significant finding. Students’ perceptions of their demonstrated learning outcomes indicate that their improved understanding of depreciation was because of the intervention exercise.