The ROI of Connected Projects: A Payroll Example


  • Scott Leong
  • Steve Crowley


"Projects requiring student investment can be leveraged by instructors to provide further learning opportunities such as additional assignments based upon the initial project. These additional assignments provide a means for students to obtain “returns on their initial investment.” By their very nature comprehensive, end of semester projects cannot be used to provide these additional learning opportunities. This paper suggests that an alternative method is to give students an initial comprehensive project and follow that up with several smaller connected projects. Separately these projects can address certain course topics; and when viewed together, allow students to make connections between these projects. If students take advantage of these connections, it is expected that returns on investment will also occur. This paper presents three projects that separately address a variety of concepts in an Accounting Information Systems (AIS) course. Taken together, students should begin to grasp the interactions between different AIS concepts. The core of the project is a payroll system. Project 1 requires students to build a spreadsheet-based payroll system. Project 2 requires students to evaluate their system’s internal controls as well as describe, using the System Development Life Cycle, possible changes to improve the system. Finally, Project 3 requires students to revise their system to take advantage of relational database concepts. These projects allow for coverage of a variety of concepts and provide a platform for students to examine the connection between these concepts. Evidence reported in this paper suggests that students are able to incorporate their knowledge “investments” from the initial project into subsequent projects, thus demonstrating returns on these investments. An additional method of data collection is proposed to triangulate the evidence reported in this study. "