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Variables, Data, and Other Terms in Statistics

Variables, Data, and Other Terms in Statistics

Author: Al Greene

This learning packet should review:
• New terms and definitions
• Provide examples of each term
• Show how the terms relate to each other

This packet introduces you to new terms commonly used in statistics, including variable, data, quantitative data, discrete and continuous data, qualitiative data, experiment, parameter, and statistic. You will be able to see defintions, as well as examples, of all of these terms. I will also show how these terms are interrelated, and thus quite important.

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New words in this packet

This is a list of all of the terms covered in this packet. Definitions and examples will be provided in the powerpoint below.

  • Variable
  • Data
  • Quantitative Data
  • Qualitative Data
  • Experiment
  • Parameter
  • Statistic

Source: Greene

Statistical Terminology

This slide show introduces us to basic statistical terms, defines them, and gives examples of each.

Source: Greene

Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Which of the following variables is qualitative, and which is quantitative?

Height of a tree

Color of a tree

Age of a tree

Number of leaves on a tree

Type of tree

Uses of trees

Width of a leaf on a tree






Qualitiative: Color of a tree, type of tree, uses of a tree. These are all non-numeric variables.

Quantitative: Height of a tree, age of a tree, number of leaves on a tree, width of a leaf on a tree. All of these variables can be written out as numbers.

Source: Greene

Discrete vs. Continuous

All of the following are quantitative variables. But can you decide which ones are discrete, and which are continuous?

Diameter of a baseball

Weight of a baseball

Number of pitches in an at-bat in a baseball game

Number of players on a baseball team

Length of a baseball game

How many home runs were hit in a game

Length of a baseball bat






Discrete: Number of pitches in an at-bat in a baseball game, number of players on a baseball team, how many home runs were hit in a game. All of these can be counted out individually (one home run, two home runs, three home runs, etc)

Continuous: Diameter of a baseball, weight of a baseball, length of a baseball game, length of a baseball bat. These are all measurements, which is the most common continuous variable. The length of a game, for example, doesn't have to be 3 hours. We can get very specific, such as 2 hours, 58 minutes, 23.38474 seconds. And we can get more specific yet. It is not countable.

Source: Greene