The impact of targeted mathematics/numeracy tutorials on maths anxiety, numeracy and basic drug calculation exam marks
Choudhary, R.; Malthus, Caroline
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Citation:Choudhary, R., & Malthus, C. (2017). The impact of targeted mathematics/numeracy tutorials on maths anxiety, numeracy and basic drug calculation exam marks. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 11(1), pp.A1-A22.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4104
Numeracy skills are the foundation of drug calculation skills and are indispensable for practicing nurses. According to teachers and researchers, lack of numeracy skills, maths anxiety, and/or lack of confidence are among factors associated with drug calculation errors (Bull, 2009; McMullan, Jones, & Lea, 2012). This paper reports on a small-scale project to evaluate the impact of voluntary supplementary maths tutorials, delivered by maths learning development lecturers from the Learning Centre, on maths anxiety, numeracy skills and basic drug calculation exam marks. The 27 first year Bachelor of Nursing students who were the primary study group for this study completed a maths anxiety questionnaire and a numeracy test in the second and fourteenth weeks of the tutorials. Participants also completed an evaluation of the communication style and usefulness of the tutorials. A quantitative analysis showed attending tutorials seems to have had a positive impact on both numeracy scores, for which there was a moderate standardised average improvement (Cohen’s d = 0.59), and maths anxiety scores, for which there was a small standardised average reduction (Glass’s Δ_pre=0.265). As numeracy skills improved, levels of maths anxiety decreased for a number of students. Encouragingly, all but three of the study group passed the drug calculation component of the final exam, and for two of these three, other factors such as limited English proficiency may have played a role in their not passing. Evaluations commented positively on the clarity and inclusive communication style of the tutorials. While the study cannot establish that attending tutorials was the only factor contributing to improved marks and lessened anxiety, the study suggests there is value in early maths support interventions. A supportive, caring learning environment not only helped students to express their concerns and openly acknowledge their areas of weakness, but for several, also reduced their maths anxiety to some extent and improved numerical skills.