Can effective teaching and learning strategies help student nurses to retain drug calculation skills?

Nurse Educ Today. 2008 Oct;28(7):856-64. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2008.01.002. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Student nurses need to develop and retain drug calculation skills in order accurately to calculate drug dosages in clinical practice. If student nurses are to qualify and be fit to practise accurate drug calculation skills, then educational strategies need to not only show that the skills of student nurses have improved but that these skills have been retained over a period of time. A quasi-experimental approach was used to test the effectiveness of a range of strategies in improving retention of drug calculation skills. The results from an IV additive drug calculation test were used to compare the drug calculation skills of student nurses between two groups of students who had received different approaches to teaching drug calculation skills. The sample group received specific teaching and learning strategies in relation to drug calculation skills and the second group received only lectures on drug calculation skills. All test results for students were anonymous. The results from the test for both groups were statistically analysed using the Mann Whitney test to ascertain whether the range of strategies improved the results for the IV additive test. The results were further analysed and compared to ascertain the types and numbers of errors made in each of the sample groups. The results showed that there is a highly significant difference between the two samples using a two-tailed test (U=39.5, p<0.001). The strategies implemented therefore did make a difference to the retention of drug calculation skills in the students in the intervention group. Further research is required into the retention of drug calculation skills by students and nurses, but there does appears to be evidence to suggest that sound teaching and learning strategies do result in better retention of drug calculation skills.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum
  • Drug Dosage Calculations*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / methods
  • Medication Errors / nursing
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Mental Recall
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Problem Solving
  • Program Evaluation
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Students, Nursing / psychology
  • Teaching / methods*