Elizabeth Horncastle

Elizabeth Horncastle



I qualified as a pharmacist in 1995, graduating with a BSc from Sunderland Polytechnic in 1994 and completing a pre-registration year with Boots the Chemist.  In 2000, after my youngest son went to school, I completed a Diploma in Clinical Community Pharmacy at Aston University which started my interest in teaching. I continued working for Boots and helped with the Pre-Registration Training Programme.

Following on from my diploma, I started working at the RPSGB (the professional body and regulator for pharmacy) in the role of Pre-registration Training Facilitator, and enrolled on a 'Training the Trainers Course' at Leeds University.

I worked at Bradford University on a sessional basis before moving to Huddersfield University, initially on a sessional basis before being appointed as a full time Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice in 2011.

I continued my education at Leeds University successfully completing a PGCE in Clinical Education in 2012 and an MEd in 2014. I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I started my EdD course in September 2015.                                                                                                  

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

All full time members of staff at Huddersfield University are required to have, or be working towards a PhD or equivalent.

I have a long association with the University of Leeds and having completed my MEd, decided to undertake the EdD.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

When I started working with pharmacy students I was surprised at how some students  struggled with some calculations that I found to be quite simple. As someone who failed A level Maths, I do not regard myself as being an expert, I was concerned. At this time the professional examination that all MPharm graduates take before they qualify as a pharmacist did not allow the use of calculators. Some students struggled with simple fractions and decimals and I firstly wanted to find out why and then help them.                                                                                         

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

My plans are to continue to with practice-based research to inform my teaching within my role at the University of Huddersfield. I will also disseminate the findings of my research to the Pharmacy Regulator, Professional Body and other providers of pharmacy education and training. 

Research interests

Submission Date: January 2020

The ability of pharmacists to accurately perform pharmaceutical calculations in practice is crucial to public safety. Therefore the teaching and assessment of calculation skills forms an essential part of pharmacy students’ training.

All pharmacy students must have GCSE mathematics at Grade C or above, however there are a number of students each year who struggle with calculations.

My research will look to identify students who will struggle with calculations at the beginning of their studies. This will be done by having a diagnostic test in induction week, statistically analysing results and comparing with entry level mathematics qualifications. I will also use a questionnaire to gather data from the students about how confident they are in performing calculations before they have any teaching.

Mixed methods of research will be used to identify students who struggle with calculations, determine their confidence in performing calculations and then develop and pilot an intervention to help struggling students.