The Influence of Mathematical Ability on Performance in Principles of Accounting

James Arthur Yunker, Penelope Jane Yunker, George Krull


This research estimates the incremental effect of mathematical ability on student performance in principles of accounting, holding constant other determinants of performance such as Grade Point Average. A 24-question mathematics pre-test was given to several hundred students enrolled in principles of accounting at a regional Midwestern university. One categorization of the test items was according to questions primarily pertaining to arithmetical computation (8 items), questions primarily pertaining to proportions and percentages (8 items), and questions primarily pertaining to algebraic manipulation (8 items). A second categorization was according to questions containing substantial word exposition (9 items), and questions not containing substantial word exposition (15 items). It is found that while each one of the score variables is highly significant according to the standard t-statistic test, the overall explanatory power of the regression equation, as measured by its R-squared, is not increased very much in a numerical sense by the addition of any one of them. In a relative sense, however, the highest incremental explanatory power is associated with the score for word exposition items, while the lowest is associated with the score for algebraic manipulation items.

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