Developing a model of embedding academic numeracy in university programs : a case study from nursing
Author(s)Galligan, Linda Ann
Keywordsadult, numeracy, nursing education, sociocultural and human development theory, university preparation, threshold concepts
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AbstractThis is a study of the academic numeracy of nursing students. This study develops a theoretical model for the design and delivery of university courses in academic numeracy. The following objectives are addressed: 1. To investigate nursing students' current knowledge of academic numeracy; 2. To investigate how nursing students’ knowledge and skills in academic numeracy can be enhanced using a developmental psychology framework; and 3. To utilise data derived from meeting objectives 1 and 2 to develop a theoretical model to embed academic numeracy in university programs. This study draws from Valsiner’s Human Development Theory (Valsiner, 1997, 2007). It is a quasi-experimental intervention case study (Faltis, 1997) and takes a multimethod approach using pre- and post-tests; observation notes; and semi-structured teaching sessions to document a series of microgenetic studies of student numeracy. Each microgenetic study is centered on the lived experience of students becoming more numerate. The method for this section is based on Vygotsky’s double stimulation (Valsiner, 2000a; 2007). Data collection includes interviews on students’ past experience with mathematics; their present feelings and experiences and how these present feelings and experiences are transformed. The findings from this study have provided evidence that the course developed for nursing students, underpinned by an appropriate framework, does improve academic numeracy. More specifically, students improved their content knowledge of and confidence in mathematics in areas that were directly related to their degree. The study used Valsiner’s microgenetic approach to development to trace the course as it was being taught and two students’ personal academic numeracy journeys. It highlighted particularly troublesome concepts, then outlined scaffolding and pathways used to develop understanding. This approach to academic numeracy development was summarised into a four-faceted model at the university, program, course and individual level. This model can be applied successfully to similar contexts. Thus the thesis advances both theory and practice in this under-researched and under-theorised area.