CAN A DIAGNOSTIC TEST PREDICT PERFORMANCE IN NUMERACY ASSESSMENTS IN PHARMACY STUDENTS?

Authors

  • Geeta Hitch Pharmacy Department, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
  • David West Pharmacy Department, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
  • Brian Pearce Pharmacy Department, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London

Keywords:

diagnostic test, numeracy skills, prediction of performance, pharmacy undergraduates

Abstract

A diagnostic test comprising questions ranging from simple arithmetic to calculations of concentration was presented to a cohort of first year pharmacy students in the first week of term. Each student was assigned to a group (red, amber or green) based upon their performance (39% or less, 40-69% and 70% or better, respectively) and was informed of their group via their academic tutors. Most students (67%) were assigned to the amber group. Following a lecture series in pharmaceutical calculations, the students’ performance was then monitored in an in-course assessment and an MCQ examination. Our data show that including calculations in the curriculum improved performance in both assessments. The majority (70%) of students assigned to the green group remained there in the in-course assessment and all but one passed the MCQ at the first attempt. Of the 15 students in the red group, five remained in this group following the in-course assessment and four of these failed the MCQ at the first attempt. There was significantly more movement, both up and down, in the amber group. We also monitored student access to calculations support resources on our e-learning system but found little difference between any of the groups. In all, the diagnostic test proved to be useful in identifying the weakest and most capable students and predicting their subsequent performance.

References

Aronson, J.K. (2009). Special issue: medication errors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 67, 589-690.

Batchelor, H. (2004). The importance of mathematics diagnostic test for incoming pharmacy undergraduates. Pharmacy Education, 4, 69-74.

Haigh, S. (2002). How to calculate drug dosage accurately: advice for nurses. Professional Nurse, 18, 54.

Henry, J, (2003). Employers lose faith in maths GCSE. The Times Educational Supplement (TES), 10 January, 2003. Accessed via www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx? storycode=373444 (27 June 2011).

Hitch, G., West, D., Jee, R., Foulsham, R. and Pearce, B. (2010). A novel visually-displayed test for assessing numerical skills in pharmacy undergraduates. Pharmacy Education, 10, 144-148.

Hutton, B.M. (1998). Do school qualifications predict competence in nursing calculations? Nurse Education Today, 18, 25-31.

Jukes, L. and Gilchrist, M. (2006). Concerns about numeracy skills of nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice,6, 192-198.

Malcolm, R.K. and McCoy, C.P. (2007). Evaluation of numeracy skills in first year pharmacy undergraduates 1999-2005. Pharmacy Education, 7, 53-59.

McMullan, M. (2010). Exploring the numeracy skills of nurses and students when performing drug calculations. Nursing Times,106, 10-12.

McQueen, D.S., Begg, M.J. and Maxwell, S.R.J. (2010). eDrugCalc: an online self-assessment package to enhance medical students’ drug dose calculation skills. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 70, 492-499.

Sheridan, S.L. and Pignone, M. (2002). Numeracy and the medical student’s ability to interpret data. Effective Clinical Practice, 5, 35-40.

Tariq, V. and Durrani, N. (2009). Every student counts: promoting numeracy and enhancing employability. MSOR Connections, 9, 7-11.

Issue

Section

Research Article