Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Communication in Statistics: Consideration of Lexical Ambiguity or I do not think this word means what you think it mean


Statistics Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


People connect what they hear to what they have heard and experienced in the past, so if a commonly used English word is used differently by a technical domain, like statistics, a statistical novice might misunderstand the meaning of the communication. These domain-specific words that are similar to colloquial English words but have different meanings in statistics are said to have lexical ambiguity. The session presenter has been actively researching the role that language, and specifically ambiguous words, plays in the teaching and learning of introductory statistics and in this session will present findings that have the potential improve communication between consultants and their clients. In particular, research results with respect to the words random, normal, average, and association will be discussed and suggestions will be made to improve communication with clients by exploiting the ambiguities of the target words.

Conference Name

Joint Statistical Meetings

Conference Location

Boston, MA; United States

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