rates, percentages, quantitative writing, comparisions


While comparisons between percentages or rates appear frequently in journalism and advertising, and are an essential component of quantitative writing, many students fail to understand precisely what percentages mean, and lack fluency with the language used for comparisons. After reviewing evidence demonstrating this weakness, this experience-based perspective lays out a framework for teaching the language of comparisons in a structured way, and illustrates it with several authentic examples that exemplify mistaken or misleading uses of such numbers. The framework includes three common types of erroneous or misleading quantitative writing: the missing comparison, where a key number is omitted; the apples-to-pineapples comparison, where two subtly incomparable rates are presented; and the implied fallacy, where an invalid quantitative conclusion is left to the reader to infer.



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