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

    Richard Noss, Celia Hoyles, Stefano Pozzi
    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.