Evaluating the numeracy skills of pharmacy students in multiple choice questions and free-text answer assessments and their perception of numeracy in clinical practice

Bullen, Kathryn, Ainsley, Kieran and Davison, Kathryn (2020) Evaluating the numeracy skills of pharmacy students in multiple choice questions and free-text answer assessments and their perception of numeracy in clinical practice. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 12 (6). pp. 648-655. ISSN 1877-1297

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Abstract

Research Note
Introduction
Numerical errors can cause unintentional harm to patients and are a burden to healthcare systems worldwide. There is a paucity of research regarding numerical competence in pharmacists and pharmacy students and how this should be assessed within undergraduate and licensure assessments.

Methods
Two numeracy assessments were given to year three and four pharmacy students at the University of Sunderland, United Kingdom. One paper included ten multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and the second ten free-text answer questions. Participants were then given an evaluation questionnaire to explore their perceptions about the assessments and numeracy in clinical practice.

Results
A response rate of 75% (n = 247) was achieved, with 60.9% of students passing the MCQ and 27.9% passing the free-text answer assessments. There were statistically significant differences in pass rates depending on year of study, ethnicity, and previous mathematics qualifications. Participants were asked if numeracy was an important skill for pharmacists in practice; 57.9% thought it were essential and 36.4% quite important. However, only 1.4% felt sufficiently supported in the development of the required numeracy skills, and this has prompted a redesign of teaching and assessment at the university.

Conclusions
Educators need to ensure taught and assessed numeracy is reflective of and transferable to pharmacy practice, whilst ensuring students are supported effectively and engaged. This is likely to be achieved with integrated and clinically focused teaching approaches and appropriately constructed assessments throughout the pharmacy programme.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** Article version: AM ** Embargo end date: 29-05-2021 ** From Elsevier via Jisc Publications Router ** History: epub 29-05-2020; issue date 30-06-2020. ** Licence for AM version of this article starting on 29-05-2021: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Divisions: Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
SWORD Depositor: Publication Router
Depositing User: Publication Router
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 10:33
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2020 10:33
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/12087

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