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Abstract Details

Activity Number: 544
Type: Invited
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 : 2:00 PM to 3:50 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #303694
Title: Addressing Lexical Ambiguity in the Classroom
Author(s): Diane Fisher*+ and Jennifer Kaplan and Neal Rogness
Companies: University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Georgia and Grand Valley State University
Address: Dept. of Mathematics, Lafayette, LA, 70504-1010,
Keywords: lexical ambiguity ; language ; classroom instruction ; teaching

Words that are part of everyday English and used differently in a technical domain possess lexical ambiguity. People connect what they hear to what they already know, so the use of a common English word in statistics may encourage students to incorporate the statistical usage as a new facet of the word they had learned previously. The use of words with lexical ambiguity, therefore, may encourage students to make incorrect associations between words they know and words that sound similar but have specific meanings in statistics that differ from the common definitions. Researchers in other fields suggest that we should exploit the lexical ambiguity of the words to help students learn vocabulary instructors. In this presentation we will discuss two words used in statistics that our data suggest are ambiguous for students. Spread, though not a technical word, has come into common use in introductory statistics textbooks and courses. Random is a technical term and is integral to the understanding of statistics. We will discuss the nature of the ambiguities associated with spread and random and provide suggestions for instructors with regards to classroom use of the words.

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