Below is our latest conversation with accounting professors about how they use Calcbench in the classroom. We caught up with Lisa Koonce, Deloitte Chair in Accounting, McCombs School of Business, at the University of Texas at Austin.

How did you first get introduced to Calcbench? How did it catch on at the McCombs School of Business? 

I first heard of Calcbench at a conference. Specifically, I saw a presentation at the  American Accounting Association annual meeting several years ago, and a  professor at another school was talking about teaching data analytics. Afterwards I asked him how the students get their data. The answer was Calcbench. I then signed up for a demo. 

Given that it was late in the academic year when I recommended that my school use Calcbench, another professor and I pooled our discretionary funds to purchase a subscription. The platform caught on, especially with those who teach Financial Statement Analysis. Soon thereafter, our department decided that most of our classes would have a big data component. Calcbench was a way to make it happen. 

Later on, professors in the Accounting and Finance departments started using Calcbench for research, collecting data in disclosures they couldn’t get with the usual  databases to round out their population of observations. Today the subscription is split between two departments. 

How do you use Calcbench? 

I teach Intermediate Financial Accounting to students who are accounting majors at the university. The Intermediate Financial Accounting class is part of a five-year program; students take this class during their fourth year. These students typically graduate and work at public accounting firms or go into industry, and eventually they become CPAs. 

I use Calcbench in my Intermediate Financial Accounting classroom to show examples of companies and their financial reporting. Using Calcbench helps me illustrate the topics that I teach. In the past, it was difficult to search for good examples. With Calcbench it’s easy. 

Students are also exposed to big data and data analytics in Intermediate Financial Accounting. They have a case study related to an accounting question. They use Calcbench to collect the data. I typically give them a little tutorial, but they don’t need much. The  platform is intuitive. Following the tutorial, they download data and then clean the data to scrub for outliers. Once the data is ready, students analyze the information. 

What Calcbench features and functionality are used at McCombs School of Business? 

In my classroom, we use Bulk Data to download specific accounting information for a subset of companies. The data is then exported to Excel. I know other faculty use the trace function. One professor likes to pinpoint the section in the SEC filings where data is coming from. Another professor uses the XBRL Data Query to search for XBRL tags that have the word “tax” in it. 

One of the Calcbench features that I believe is under-appreciated is the blog. For example, a few years back there was a post on pension plans that are underfunded. I saw that before I was teaching pensions. This is a big deal. I now bring that example into class when I am teaching pensions. Students' jaws drop when they read it. To keep the class fresh, I have brought other examples from the blog into the classroom and have encouraged other faculty to do so. 

Are you using Calcbench in the classroom? Email us at and tell us how!

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