The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of the use of calculators on the responses of undergraduate nursing students to items on a dosage calculations examination. The study sought to determine if calculator use had any influence on both the arithmetic and conceptual skills associated with the solving of calculations problems. The population consisted of all students enrolled in a pharmacology course in a baccalaureate nursing program. An experimental repeated measures design was used in which all participants completed two parallel forms of a calculations examination, one form with a calculator and one form without a calculator. Findings of the study revealed that there was significant difference in both arithmetic and conceptual skills ability using a calculator. Use of a calculator was associated with improved arithmetic skills performance and diminished conceptual skills performance. A major factor underlying both arithmetic skills and conceptual skills performance, independent of the calculator effect, was the pre-admission arithmetic skills ability of the subject.
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