About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4124-4130
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.1966

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS DEVELOPING NUMERACY SKILLS IN NURSES: A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH

J. Ocean, I. McGrath

RMIT University (AUSTRALIA)
This presentation reports on an Australian initiative in which 120 final-year pre-service teachers tutored 220 final-year nursing students in the mathematics needed to undertake accurate drug calculations.

Basic numeracy is a fundamental skill required in healthcare. However there is considerable evidence of poor numeracy skills, evidenced by inaccurate drug calculations, amongst health care professionals. Indeed, poor numeracy skills have been recognized as being a significant factor in medication errors in many parts of the world. Many studies have identified numeracy skills of nurses as problematic and various teaching and learning strategies have been tried, but the numeracy skills of nurses continue to be a problem.

Nursing is viewed as a ‘traditional’ career for women, because of the association of nursing with caring. However, due to the association of mathematics with ‘non-traditional’ careers for women, many women in Australia and Europe do not recognize that nurses require competent numeracy skills until they are already enrolled in the course. The point at which they encounter their own lack of mathematical knowledge is accompanied by the realization that this will restrict or deny them an opportunity for clinical practice in hospitals, or even a job. The lack of numeracy skills in nursing students is thus a serious issue for many reasons.

Typically in nursing programs, the method for teaching drug calculation has been through formulas and repetitive practice. However this approach to teaching mathematics, known as ‘absolutist’, is known to be largely unsuccessful with any population. Few initiatives have used a constructivist, conceptual approach to developing numeracy skills in nurses, such as that undertaken in this initiative. Both groups of students in this pre-service teacher-nursing student course were predominantly female. The nurses had not successfully completed initial maths tests on drug calculations, and the (primary/elementary) pre-service teachers were skilled in conceptual approaches to teaching mathematics. Two pre-service teachers were allocated to a small group of nursing students over a 5 week period. They met for one hour per week to teach and learn the relevant mathematics. The results indicate considerable improvement in nurses’ ability to accurately perform drug calculations at the end of 5 weeks. The program will be repeated next year with an experimental and a control group of first-year nurses, so that we can gain more solid data on the program’s effectiveness. We are interested in collaborating and sharing our knowledge with any other universities in which teachers and nurses are trained, who wish to try this program.
@InProceedings{OCEAN2016PRE,
author = {Ocean, J. and McGrath, I.},
title = {PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS DEVELOPING NUMERACY SKILLS IN NURSES: A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.1966},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.1966},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {4124-4130}}
TY - CONF
AU - J. Ocean AU - I. McGrath
TI - PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS DEVELOPING NUMERACY SKILLS IN NURSES: A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.1966
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 4124
EP - 4130
ER -
J. Ocean, I. McGrath (2016) PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS DEVELOPING NUMERACY SKILLS IN NURSES: A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 4124-4130.
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