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Title: The development and initial testing of The Numeracy Test for Pre-registration Pharmacists
Author: Glaspole, Stewart Eric
ISNI:       0000 0001 3500 7593
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2008
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Background Pharmacy is a professional career, membership of which is regulated. Members of the profession are expected to calculate drug doses correctly. Literature suggests that numeracy problems exist amongst undergraduate and pre-registration pharmacy students. This work centres on the development and initial testing of a formative assessment instrument for these students (called The Numeracy Test for Preregistration Pharmacists {NuTeP}). The tool aims to identify specific dimensions of dosage calculation and provide support to help the student gain confidence and attain proficiency. The tool uses an item response theory (IRT) approach, in that it aims to define the subject's ability based on latent or unobservable traits. Methods A framework was developed which used a theory of teaching, a theory of learning and a contextualised practical application to address the research question. The pre-pilot tool, informed by initial focus groups, theory and the literature, underwent a cycle of testing and amendment. Face and content validity were explored using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The final tool was investigated in two ways. Initially, 60 pre-registration pharmacists sat the NuTeP and a validated IRT based numeracy assessment (the Mathematics Competency Test {MCn). Subsequently, a one-parameter logistic Rasch model was applied to the NuTeP data using the SAS statistics package procedure, NLMIXED. Results Developmental stages resulted in the production of a three tier pre-pilot tool which contained 10 items. When this first iteration was examined in terms of usability and face validity it was found that the three tier paper was difficult to administer. The difficulty of using the pre-pilot tool to provide feedback and duplication of question items were also raised. After the required amendments were made, four specific dimensions were highlighted; computation, conversion, conceptualisation and critique. Pilot testing showed significant positive correlation between the two dimensions of computation and conversion with known items measuring these traits (r=0.726 n=55 p=<0.01, 2 tailed). Further amendments built a process of feedback into the tool which produced a final instrument. The NuTeP contains 12 questions and measures the four traits detailed above. Correlation showed a significant positive relationship between marks scored in the NuTeP and the MCT with a correlation coefficient of 0.424 (n=60, p=<0.01, 2 tailed). Rasch analysis produced difficulty estimates, Item characteristic curves and Item fit statistics for the test data. The Rasch model appeared to fit the data in terms of how the items behaved with respect to a latent trait analysis. Discussion The NuTeP is a novel tool which appears to satisfy the requirements of formative assessment. The tool is viewed by users as being useful and informative. No such tool, which is theory based and validated, is currently available for pre-registration pharmacists. The model used for Rasch analysis requires a large volume of test subjects to be submitted for modelling, and hence this statistical approach may have limitations in this study. Conclusion The ground up theoretical approach and subsequent statistical testing provides insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the tool. Further field-testing and question refinement is required to fully validate the NuTeP.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: D.Ed.--University of Brighton, 2008 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available