Before You Watch

Has anyone ever said to you that something is wicked or sick, meaning it is awesome or great? In chemistry a solution may refer to a liquid mixture, whilst in mathematics a solution may refer to the value which solves an equation or a means of solving a mathematical problem. Ever heard of business terms like hedging or leverage? Engineers may use the word gauge to refer to the width of something (e.g., thickness of sheet metal, or diameter of a screw), whilst scientists may use it to refer to the instrument that measures content (e.g., a rain gauge). Every field has its jargon.

Learning Statistics involves learning the meaning of many new terms AND most importantly learning the correct statistical meanings of a lot of familiar terms.

While one term may be broad and interchangeable, another may be very specific and therefore it may be hard to find correct substitute language or terms.

So look for the key words and terms.  Perhaps start your own glossary so you may more easily check word meanings should you ever get stuck.


Now What?

This video is designed to give you an introduction to the concept of a random variable and how to determine a variable’s type. You are now ready to look at how we may turn the data for a given variable into readily interpretable information (see the videos Visual Displays - Single Variable, and then Visual Displays - Two Variables).

But When Am I Going to Use This?

Measurement and statistics are essential for all fields of study - they provide critical assessment and a deeper understanding of investigations within any field. Measures of interest or random variables are fundamental within all areas of study (whether it be particle physics, health sciences, engineering, astronomy, psychology, environmental science, business or any other field). Wherever a measure is made and an examination and interpretation of data, it is critical to first understand what you are measuring (the random variable) and its type, as this determines which visual displays and methods for analyses are appropriate, and which are not appropriate.

Other Links

This Youtube video by the Statistics Learning Centre in NZ describes variable types and also the concepts of a population and sample. Note that the continuous variable has been further split into two types - interval and ratio - and discrete isn’t included. It is a slightly different approach but the same principle. They also offer a Snack-size one-hour course about types of data and appropriate statistics and graphs.

If you really want to understand types of data, along with appropriate statistics and graphs, you can learn on our new Snack-size course. Takes about an hour, and lots of fun!

Please rate this page