Enhanced numeracy skills following team-based learning in United States pharmacy students: a longitudinal cohort study

Carpenter, R. E., Coyne, L., Silberman, D., Takemoto, J.
Publication date
Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions
Purpose: The literature suggests that the ability to numerate cannot be fully understood without accounting for the social context in which mathematical activity is represented. Team-based learning (TBL) is an andragogical approach with theoretical links to sociocultural and community-of-practice learning. This study aimed to quantitatively explore the impact of TBL instruction on numeracy development in 2 cohorts of pharmacy students and identify the impact of TBL instruction on numeracy development from a social perspective for healthcare education.
Methods: Two cohorts of students were administered the Health Science Reasoning Test-Numeracy (HSRT-N) before beginning pharmacy school. Two years after using TBL as the primary method of instruction, both comprehensive and domain data from the HSRT-N were analyzed.
Results: In total, 163 pharmacy student scores met the inclusion criteria. The students' numeracy skills measured by HSRT-N improved after 2 years of TBL instruction.
Conclusion: Numeracy was the most significantly improved HSRT-N domain in pharmacy students following two years of TBL instruction. Although a closer examination of numeracy development in TBL is warranted, initial data suggest that TBL instruction may be an adequate proxy for advancing numeracy in a cohort of pharmacy students. TBL may encourage a social practice of mathematics to improve pharmacy students' ability to numerate critically.