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Accounting Ethics Lesson Plan

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Ethics in Accounting

Lesson Blocks Description -

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will learn about ethics as related to their personal lives, to the business world, and to the accounting profession. They will learn how businesses create an effective ethics program and they explore their own ethical decision-making process. Students will gain an understanding of which organizations create codes of ethics for accountants and how the behaviors of accountants influence public trust.


Have you ever been faced with a difficult decision about a particular course of action or behavior? Did you consider how you would feel about the action of how others would view your choice? Did you consider how your behavior would affect others? If so, you've probably encountered an ethical dilemma. Ethical behavior in business and personal life provides the foundation for society. The future of the accounting profession hinges on its ability to secure trust and respect from the business community and the general public.


1. What are ethics?

2. What are business ethics?

3. What is the accountant's role?

4. Who benefits from ethical behavior?

5. What are the key principles?

6. Who writes the codes of ethics?

7. The 5-Step Decision Making Model (review)


Students will:

Explain the meaning of business ethics.

Describe the components of an effective business ethics program.

Identify the role of the accountant in business ethics.

Discuss how ethical behavior benefits individuals, businesses, and society.

Using handout "Key Principles of Conduct," complete the Key Principles Quiz, scoring 75% or higher to pass.

Identify the professional organizations that establish codes of ethics of accountants.

Content Standards:

ACC I 3.1.3 Discuss the importance of high ethical standards in the preparation of financial


ACC I 6.1.1 Discuss the employment opportunities and job responsibilities in business,

industry, public practice, government, education, and not-for-profit professions.

Time Required: 1 class period


Ethical Decision Making Model handout

Key Principles of Conduct handout

Minicases- ACCT 17 and 15


Computer with projector

Key Principles Quiz and Key

Students will need paper and pen/pencil


1. Begin by going over the concepts we will be discussing in this lesson.

2. Open the PowerPoint "ethics lesson".

3. Ask students whether they have ever been faced with an ethical dilemma. How did they handle it?

4. (Slide 3 begins the lesson) Explain why ethics are important

a. Ethical behavior in business and personal life provides the foundation for society.

5. Concept 1- What are ethics?

a. Study of our notions of right and wrong

a. Basic principles to help guide us when faced with ethical dilemmas

b. Human conduct in relation to what is morally good and bad

6. Concept 2- What are business ethics?

a. Policies and practices that reflect a company's core values, e.g. honesty, trust, respect, and fairness

a. How a company attends to shareholder value, community service, supplier relationships, and regulatory law.

b. Ethics and the law- while both the law and ethics define proper and improver behavior, the law formally defines the general public's ideas about what makes something right or wrong. The law is describes the minimum acceptable level of correct behavior, whereas, ethical concepts have more subtle implications and are more complex. (As an example: companies may advertise a product to teenagers by law but is it the right thing to do?)

c. Businesses make a code of ethics for their company to follow. A code of ethics is a formal policy of rules and standards that describe the ethical behaviors that the company expects from employees. (show and briefly mention the list of issues on slide 6) Once the code is written, it is important for it to be distributed to all the employees. Trainings also help the employees understand the purpose of the policies and it gives them examples of what to do if they are faced with a problem.

7. Concept



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