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Graphical and Textual Presentations in Financial Reports

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Sithole, STM ORCID: 0000-0002-3930-4277 2017 , 'Graphical and Textual Presentations in Financial Reports', in S Gokten (ed.), Accounting and Corporate Reporting - Today and Tomorrow , InTech, London, pp. 223-235.

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Abstract

The use of separate graphs and texts to disclose information is a frequent occurrencein corporate annual reports. Multiple sources of information does not enhance understandingof users of financial statements. This chapter compares spatially separated textand graphs with integrated presentations that aim at bringing text and graphs as closeas possible to each other. The chapter begins by illustrating the concept of split attention.Cognitive load arises when disparate sources of accounting information need to bementally integrated by users. An experiment using separate text and diagrams is thenpresented to demonstrate how participants can deal with cognitive overload when readingsplit-attention material. Using two instructional design formats, the split-attentionformat and the integrated format, first-year accounting students were used as surrogatesfor financial report user groups such as employees and shareholders. The presence ofthe split-attention effect in the financial accounting material was established. Effectiveuse of text and diagrams in integrated reporting helps integrated thinking and assiststhe interconnectedness of information. The findings suggest that redesigning financialreports by integrating text and diagrams may make effective use of the available cognitiveresources and possibly enhance investors and other stakeholders’ decision-makingprocess.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Sithole, STM
Keywords: accounting, accounting education, cognitive load theory, financial accounting, financial reports, graph, learning, split-attention
Publisher: InTech
DOI / ID Number: 10.5772/68038
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Author. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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