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Biography

Professor Coben is Emeritus Professor of Adult Numeracy at King’s College London and a Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia School of Education and Lifelong Learning.

Until her retirement in 2018 she was Director of New Zealand’s National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults and a Professor at the University of Waikato. The National Centre received a 2016 Best Practice Honor Award from the U.S. Library of Congress.

She is a founder and Honorary Trustee of the international research forum Adults Learning Mathematics (ALM) and a member of the Editorial Board of the ALM International Journal. ALM brings together researchers and practitioners to promote the learning of mathematics and the practice of numeracy by adults through annual international conferences and publications.

Professor Coben's ongoing research focuses on the education of adults and young people in two main areas: national and international initiatives in literacy and numeracy; and the numeracy required to meet the mathematical demands of safety-critical work, especially in healthcare. She is a member of the expert group brought together by UNESCO’s Institute of Lifelong Learning to advise on monitoring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.6: “By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy” (Gal et al., 2018) (more information). 

She is also aiming to reduce errors and improve patient safety through her research on numeracy for nursing. Professor Coben is part of an international interdisciplinary team with Professor Keith Weeks (various authors, 2019; 2018; 2016; 2014; 2013; 2010). The translational research supports the ongoing development of the safeMedicate® healthcare numeracy virtual learning and diagnostic assessment environment program. As a Director of SafeCalculate Ltd Professor Coben distributes safeMedicate® in Australasia/Asia-Pacific under licence from Authentic World Ltd.

Last but not least, her final students’ awards are listed here in tribute to all her students' achievements over the years:

  • Ann McDonnell, 2019, Great Expectations: A longitudinal case study of pupils in an inner-city secondary school in a ‘high-NEET’ Local Authority in England. (PhD; ESRC CASE Studentship), King’s College London.
  • Lynette Winter, 2019, Embedded numeracy teaching practices at an Institute of Technology: Vocational tutors’ characterisations of embedding numeracy and related professional development. (Master of Education), University of Waikato, New Zealand.
  • Damon Whitten, 2018, Understanding the beliefs and behaviours of low-skilled adults as they re-engage with mathematics. (PhD), University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Research interests

Professor Coben's ongoing research focuses on the education of adults and young people in two main areas: 

  • national and international initiatives in literacy and numeracy;
  • the numeracy required to meet the mathematical demands of safety-critical work, especially in healthcare.

Research outputs

Weeks, K. W., Coben, D., O'Neill, D., Jones, A., Weeks, A., Browne, M., & Pontin, D. (2019). Developing and integrating nursing competence through authentic technology-enhanced clinical simulation education: Pedagogies for reconceptualising the theory-practice gap. Nurse Education in Practice, 37, 29-38. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2019.04.010

Coben, D. (2018). Numeracy for Nursing: The scope for international collaboration (ALM-15). In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Keogh, J. O’Donoghue, & T. Maguire (Eds.), Adult Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum. Celebrating 25 years: A lot done, a lot more yet to do (pp. 199-211). London: Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum.

Coben, D. (2018). What constitutes effective practice in adult numeracy? (ALM-13). In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Keogh, J. O’Donoghue, & T. Maguire (Eds.), Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum. Celebrating 25 years: A lot done, a lot more yet to do (pp. 2-8). London: Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum.

Coben, D. (2018). Foreword. In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Keogh, J. O’Donoghue, & T. Maguire (Eds.), Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum. Celebrating 25 years: A lot done, a lot more yet to do (pp. iii-vii). London: Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum.

Coben, D. (2018). Foreword. In J. Keogh, T. Maguire, & J. O’Donoghue (Eds.), Adults, Mathematics and Work: From research into practice. Rotterdam: Brill, Sense.

Coben, D., & Alkema, A. (2018). Scoping the development of a measure of adults’ numeracy (and literacy) practices. In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Maaß, & E. Suss-Stepanik (Eds.), Adult and Lifelong Learning: Papers from the Thirteenth International Congress on Mathematics Education Topic Study Group 6 (pp. 75-92). Dordrecht: Springer.

Coben, D., Sabin, M., Hall, C., Hutton, B. M., Weeks, K., & Woolley, N. (2018). Numeracy for Nursing: The case for a benchmark (ALM-14). In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Keogh, J. O’Donoghue, & T. Maguire (Eds.), Adult Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum. Celebrating 25 years: A lot done, a lot more yet to do (pp. 185-198). London: Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum.

Coben, D., & Weeks, K. W. (2018). Authentic teaching learning and assessment of competence in medication dosage calculation problem solving in and for Nursing (ALM-19). In K. Safford-Ramus, J. Keogh, J. O’Donoghue, & T. Maguire (Eds.), Adult Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum. Celebrating 25 years: A lot done, a lot more yet to do (pp. 212-228). London: Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum.