We have found our way through an extensive lit review as we develop a conceptualization of health numeracy and learning content that emerges from that conceptualization. We have come across many excellent definitions of numeracy and some equally compelling definitions of health numeracy, yet the work on turning these theories into practice is not substantive. Risk literacy, a key component of health numeracy has seen the most activity.
A rather compelling component of numeracy that we have been focusing on, and that has given us the most trouble, is number sense. It is something that exists as an expectation in every class in mathematics and many other classes (including health sciences) as well. Through our review of the literature we have found that assessments of number sense and learning content created to help strengthen number sense tend to be procedural and computational in nature, despite the many questions asked about the efficacy of procedural and computational learning in those that struggle with foundations mathematics at the post-secondary level. We are challenging ourselves to develop the kinds of mathematical tasks that improve numeracy with as little computation as possible. The learning content will focus on the foundational skills needed by health care students and professionals at a first year post-secondary level, and thus will not include content like limits, quadratic functions, statistical inference and many others.
In designing the on-line learning instrument, our goal is to create an learning space that will be complex both in content and form. Though there will be discrete lessons in the learning content, the structure will be hierarchical without necessarily being linear. The on-line instrument will exist as a full package web-app which will be responsive to individual mastery level, and will recognize and rectify gaps in numeracy in a health context.