Fifteen years of research studies have concluded unanimously that spreadsheet errors are both common and non-trivial. Now we must seek ways to reduce spreadsheet errors.
Several approaches have been suggested, some of which are promising and others, while appealing because they are easy to do, are not likely to be effective. To date, only one technique, cell-by-cell code inspection, has been demonstrated to be effective.
We need to conduct further research to determine the degree to which other techniques can reduce spreadsheet errors.
There is no doubt that spreadsheet teaching at universities suffers from an image problem:
- Spreadsheets are seen as trivial encompassing simple accounting models.
- The packages are easy to learn therefore the intellectual content is limited.
- Students learn basic skills prior to university and have developed bad habits.
But perhaps the major problem is that of convincing academics that spreadsheet teaching requires a complete re-think involving not only changes in teaching content but also changes in teaching method perhaps accompanied by the development of a research ethos to find appropriate and innovative solutions.