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Abstraction in Expertise: A Study of Nurses' Conceptions of Concentration

Richard Noss, Celia Hoyles, Stefano Pozzi 

May 2002, Volume 33, Issue 3, Page 204

Building on an ethnographic study of nurses' working practices on the ward (Hoyles, Noss, & Pozzi, 2001), we elaborate the notion of situated abstraction as an analytical tool for understanding nurses' conceptions of the intensive quantity of drug concentration. Data were gathered through interviews based on simulations of tasks observed to be problematic in the earlier study. The methodology was designed to explore nurses' conceptions in a more detailed way than is possible during in situ observations and to undertake a pointed examination of the degree of situatedness of nurses' knowledge and reasoning. Analysis of the data demonstrated that nurses' conceptions were abstracted within their practice when they were able to coordinate  their mathematical knowledge with their professional expertise, yet their conceptions were situated, as evidenced by their difficulties in realizing this coordination in tasks too distant from their practice.

Research Summaries
Conceptual Development
Higher Education
Math Coordinator / Coach
Numbers and Operations
Professional Development / Teacher Education