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Caribbean Journal of Education

The WAC Experience Integrating Writing Strategies into a Third-Year Statistics Course

Publication Date: 
September 2008

Samsa and Oddone (1994, 117) state that statisticians need to write to describe, explain, clarify, convince and to publicize information. Unfortunately, students majoring in statistics and other mathematics based disciplines usually avoid courses which require significant levels of writing. Yet, on completion of their degree, they are usually employed in areas which require a significant amount of report writing, both to specialist audiences as well as to audiences that do not necessarily understand the language of this subject area. According to Radke-Sharpe (1991, 292) there are four major benefits of requiringwriting in statistics course: "(1) it improves writing skills; (2) it focuses internalisation and conceptualisation of material; (3) it encourages creativity; and (4) it enhances the ability to communicate methods and conclusions." Hoerl et al. (1993, 282) also suggest that statisticians lack the skills required to understand those they interact with, including their clients, and also lack the ability to communicate with persons in their language. In addition, Goenner and Snaith (2003, 5) highlighted Simpson and Carroll's (1990, 405) point that one of the major complaints received from employers is that most graduates are able to conduct quantitative analysis, but are unable to translate the results into understandable form. They believe that the resulting effect is that employers lose business because these graduates are unable to effectively communicate with clients. Given this, it is necessary to ensure that students of statistics develop the necessary writing skills.

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