In addition to its use for business practitioners and accounting professionals, Materialitytracker serves as online resource for educational institutions to support their course work….

The content of this site can be used by educators, researchers and students, providing them with topical content developed to build bridges between the financial and pre-financial accounting fields. Its sections present different standards’ requirements and interpretations of materiality, updates on the top material topics reported by sustainability leaders, expert user views and monthly materiality cases that illustrate different aspects of materiality. The adjacent list suggests group exercises (related to each webpage section) that students can be asked to do as part of their course activities.

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Group exercises, proposed tasks and questions for students, considering the related Materialitytracker sections: 

STANDARDS: Consider the list of definitions of materiality, and discuss how the definition and interpretation of materiality has evolved over the last five decades. How do the standard definitions differ? Produce your own ideal type definition of materiality that could be accepted by all the different professions involved.

STANDARDS: Consider the different types of thresholds applied by experts. Is it desirable and feasible to define common thresholds that apply to both financial and sustainability accounting or disclosure/reporting? What are fundamental distinctions, for example between internal versus external thresholds?

STANDARDS: Discuss how both quantitative and qualitative, as well as financial and non-financial information is relevant in deciding on materiality. What advice would you give a reporter or assurer / auditor in dealing with a select issue? Consider issues such as gender (discrimination) or a certain amount of money paid as bribe (corruption).

PROCESS: Consider how the process for determining materiality recommended by different standards differ. What could a consolidated process, that cuts across financial and non-financial reporting, look like?

RESULTS: Consider the top material issues reported by DJSI Industry Leaders over the last five years. What evolution in the most salient issues do you see? Is there a difference in what companies state to be most material, for example in annual reports and sustainability reports, and what they most talk about (emphasize) in their reports? Evaluate the ways some companies present their top material issues (materiality matrices).

USER VIEWS: Look at the themes addressed by user views from people such as Mervyn King, Claudia Volk and Bob Eccles. Pick a theme that most interest you and write a critique of the argument presented.

RESOURCES: Consider the Topic Menus & Findings from work by different organisations, including the annual Global Risks survey results of the World Economic Forum. Examine the material topics and related indicators recommended by SASB and the GRI for select industry sectors. Discuss in a group whether you think regulators should define and require disclosure on key material topics, or whether the selection of material topics should rather be left to voluntary initiative by individual companies. At what level of analysis are material topics best identified?

RESOURCES: Explore the Guidance & Research resources presented - studies by standards bodies, business organisations and academics. Consider using these for writing a course paper. What are your views on the methodologies used by some in determining recommended topic menus by industry sector? What is your assessment of their findings?