Of the top 10 private universities
in the nation, DePaul University is the only one that makes teaching its No. 1
priority. So when a professor wins one of DePaul’s annual Excellence in
Teaching awards, it’s truly a special honor. This year, Hui Lin, an associate
professor of accountancy, was among faculty members who earned this recognition
for her strong commitment to high-quality instruction.
Below, Lin discusses her passion for
teaching, how she helps students succeed and a favorite pastime that helps her keep
a competitive edge.
did you choose to become an accountancy professor?
Hui Lin: My curiosity and
passion for accounting began to develop when I took an accounting class in high
school. I was instantly drawn to the world of debits and credits, t-accounts
and journal entries. I was fascinated to learn the steps to record business
transactions and create financial statements. This introductory accounting
class marked my first step in pursuing academic excellence and professional
success in the field of accounting and information systems. It is the very same
passion that I carry with me today.
aspiration to become a career academic developed while I was teaching introductory
accounting courses as a master’s student at Virginia Tech. I immediately
discovered a new personal enthusiasm for teaching, and I found great joy in the
classroom interacting with students. It was then that I formulated a plan to
pursue a Ph.D. in accounting and become a professor.
is your teaching philosophy?
an educator, I believe that I not only have a responsibility to convey
knowledge to students and evaluate their mastery of course material, but also
to inspire them to actively pursue learning and become independent thinkers. I
describe myself as a caring,
challenging and collaborative professor.
put, I care deeply about my students’ learning. I am considerate of their needs
and the challenges they face. I demonstrate respect and professionalism to my
students in and out of the classroom. I put forth great effort to get to know
my students on an individual basis. I familiarize myself with the class roster
before the quarter begins so I will know students’ names by the first week of
a first assignment, I request that students write a business letter to
introduce themselves to me. This assignment has been well received by my
students because it shows my interest in them and provides them with an
opportunity to tell me anything they deem relevant to our learning experience
together. It is also good practice for their future careers after graduation.
am also enthusiastic and attentive in the classroom. I listen to my students’
input and contribution. Financial Reporting III is one of the most difficult
and challenging courses in accounting. When demonstrating problems in this class,
I analyze each one in great detail, ask stimulating questions, and encourage
interactions. I remind them of the “big picture” by integrating multiple
concepts into a single problem, linking each technical area to the Conceptual
Framework for Financial Reporting and motivating them by using current and
interesting examples. As a result, students are often more open to discussing
their ideas and are more likely to seek help when they need it, thus improving
their overall learning experience and performance.
make myself easily accessible to my students. I encourage students to visit me
during office hours and support them when they do. For example, to better
prepare students for the exams, every quarter I conduct extra review sessions
in the evenings outside of class time to go through additional problems and
answer questions. These review sessions usually last between two and three
hours and have been positively received by students.
us more about how you challenge students.
believe that students enjoy being challenged in the classroom. More
specifically, students enjoy achievable challenges. I set high
expectations for my students, but at the same time, it is my responsibility to
provide them with the knowledge and guidance to meet and exceed those
illustrate, in my Financial Reporting III class, I use Certified Public
Accountant exam review questions on the tests. To better prepare students for
the challenge of passing the CPA exam, I examine the CPA review books and
select questions to review for the exam that directly correspond to the
material we have covered in class. We go through all the problems in class to
help them prepare for the format and presentation style of the questions.
students are anxious and intimidated by the difficulty level and depth of the
problems. After extensive review and preparation, when they grasp the problem
solving process and successfully answer the questions on the exam, it boosts
their confidence and enhances their overall understanding of the material.
further challenge my students, I assign a team research project that provides
the students with an opportunity to examine current issues facing the
profession. This challenges them to think critically about accounting and the
business environment and to exercise professional judgment and independent
thinking. The project requires the students to delve into the technical
accounting standards, interpret the standards on their own and develop
solutions to challenging and sometimes ambiguous accounting issues. To prepare
students for the team project, I review the case material and issues in the
classroom, demonstrate the research process and encourage students to ask
questions. The outcome of the team project is that students become more
familiar with reading professional pronouncements, more proficient in research
and analysis and more prepared for the complex and challenging business
transactions and environment.
do you use collaboration to enhance learning?
strive to make my classroom collaboratively
engaging. I encourage collaboration among students and between students and
myself. To ensure an effective and productive learning process, every quarter I
solicit feedback from the students regarding my teaching effectiveness after
the first exam. This anonymous mid-quarter evaluation survey offers students a
chance to provide me with feedback regarding the course. It also helps the
students and me identify potential disconnects and manage expectations for the
rest of the course. I want the students to get the most out of the course and
doing this survey early in the quarter allows me to adjust to their needs
addition to mastering the technical accounting knowledge, one of the most
important skills for students to learn during their college education is
teamwork. The team project in my course addresses collaboration among the
students. During the course of the team project, each team member may interpret
the issues and the professional literature differently and develop contrasting
solutions for the issues. The team members have to collaborate to resolve the
differences and agree to a mutual resolution. I am accessible to answer
questions and provide feedback while students work on the project. With this
project, the students develop both technical knowledge and soft skills.
innovations have you incorporated into your teaching to help students succeed?
I incorporate current and interesting examples
to keep students enthusiastic and engaged during class. For example, I use
pension benefits of professional athletes to illustrate accounting for
pensions. I compare the retirement benefits of different professional sports,
such as NBA, NFL, and NHL, to explain pensions and 401(k) plans. The innovation
in my classroom stems from the links between the class material and the real-world
impact of those concepts. By placing a real-world context around the material,
I help the students map new material to real-world events with which they are
That said, I recognize the value of traditional
learning strategies in accounting, too. I mainly teach ACC306 (Intermediate
Accounting III). It is a content-heavy course filled with complex technical
accounting concepts. One of the best ways to learn this type of material is to
practice, practice, practice by hand each problem. Though technology aids our
processing of transactions, it should not replace our ability to interpret the
meaning and impact of the transactions. The class is highly structured and
filled with opportunities to practice by hand each concept. I believe this equips
my students with the ability to understand the process and the transaction
captured by the accounting information system.
the classroom, you are an avid table tennis player. What attracts you to this
I started playing table tennis while an
undergraduate student at Virginia Tech and have been playing ever since. Table
tennis is a game about spin and speed. Just as any other sport, not only does
it require technical skills, it is also a game that demands total concentration
and mental clarity. It keeps me physically active and mentally focused.
When I am playing, I am totally focused on the
game and nothing else. I am able to block out everything else that I constantly
think about, such as an ongoing research project or what I will be covering in
class tomorrow. In addition, table tennis allows me to release my competitive
edge– I love going to tournaments and trying my best to beat my opponents!