“Learning the Language of Statistics: Challenges and Teaching Approaches

Peter K. Dunn, Michael D. Carey, Alice M. Richardson, and Christine McDonald

Learning statistics requires learning the language of statistics. Statistics draws upon words from general English, mathematical English, discipline-specific English and words used primarily in statistics. This leads to many linguistic challenges in teaching statistics and the way in which the language is used in statistics creates an extra layer of challenge. This paper identifies several challenges in teaching statistics related to language. Some implications for the effective learning and teaching of statistics are raised and methods to help students overcome these linguistic challenges are suggested.

The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education