School of Education

Centre for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education

How effective are current interventions in identifying pharmacy students who struggle with calculations

Date: 3 November 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: E.C. Stoner 10.81

Elizabeth Horncastle


The ability of pharmacists to accurately perform pharmaceutical calculations in practice is crucial to public safety. Therefore the teaching and assessment of calculation skills forms an essential part of pharmacy students’ training. All pharmacy students must have GCSE mathematics at Grade C or above before starting their undergraduate studies. However there are a number of students each year who struggle with the calculations required throughout their degree course.

My research will look to identify students who will struggle with calculations at the beginning of their studies. This will be done by having a diagnostic test in induction week, statistically analysing results and comparing with entry level mathematics qualifications and demographic data. I will also use a questionnaire to gather data from the students about how confident they are in performing calculations before they have any teaching. The results will then inform the development of an intervention to help struggling students.

Developing the research

In this seminar I will start at the end of the student’s journey, that is when they qualify as a pharmacist and explain what calculations skills they need as a ‘day 1 pharmacist’. We will travel backwards in time to the start of their undergraduate studies and look at the types of calculations that are required at each stage of their development. I will give examples of the types of calculations that students have struggled with in the past and then look forward to discussing how my research can be developed.

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