Using e-assessment to improve numeracy in pre-registration nurses and midwives
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Numeracy is a core requirement for all pre-registration nursing programmes studying in the U.K. At present each nursing discipline at the University of the West of England, Bristol provides their students with a numeracy booklet which they are expected to work through in their own time. This booklet is intended to prepare them for the compulsory numeracy tests which all students must pass in their first and final years in order to progress with their degree. Students have access to some additional resources, however many students are still very anxious and lack confidence in numeracy. \ud In order to provide additional support we created a suite of numeracy questions using the university's DEWIS e-Assessment system. The numeracy resource created contains questions covering general numeracy, calculations relating specifically to Child Nursing and typical numeracy in nursing calculations (e.g. drug calculations, drop rates etc.) This was initially trialled on a particular cohort of nurses in April-May 2012. The algorithmic nature of DEWIS allows for question generation, at each assessment attempt, to be performed dynamically as opposed to selecting a question for instance from a question bank. In such a process, the question parameters (keywords and numerical values) are generated randomly within certain constraints. Another key difference is that, on submitting their answers, students see a fully worked solution to each question. This feedback enables students to gain confidence and refine their techniques. Following positive feedback the numeracy resource was rolled out to a greater number of nursing awards for the following academic year. \ud Students were invited to leave feedback on the DEWIS numeracy resource after each attempt. This feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and has enabled us to improve the resource, for example enabling access from mobile devices and clearer instructions on whether a calculator may be used on certain questions. Analysing student performances on their official numeracy tests has enabled us to measure the impact that the DEWIS numeracy resource has had on students’ numeracy.