Katherine J. Silvester

Abstract

Cost accounting textbooks typically contain extensive technical coverage of standard costing and variance analysis in a manufacturing context.  Covering the material adequately usually requires multiple class lectures, due to the complexity of the material. The calculations involved are detailed, multi-step, and can be numerically intensive.  In order to make the material accessible to the learner, most textbook problems focus on the individual steps inherent in the budgeting, calculation, analysis, and interpretation process of standard costing and variance analysis. This simplification makes it feasible to deliver the material efficiently in the classroom.  However, this pedagogical efficiency occurs at a cost, in that students may fail to understand the overall process and how the individual steps are interrelated.  
 
This case has been used over the course of 10 semesters with over 500 students in a junior level Cost Accounting class for accounting majors.  It has proven to be an effective tool for both reinforcing the variance analysis content that is delivered in the classroom, as well as for giving students an opportunity to practice and extend their Excel skills.