Friday, April 28, 2017

Increasing adolescents’ depth of understanding of cross-curriculum words: an intervention study

Vocabulary or word knowledge is important to classroom learning and academic outcomes. Poor vocabulary knowledge has been associated with social factors such as low socioeconomic status, and developmental factors. Addressing poor vocabulary is challenging: How do we choose the words to teach, and what is the most effective way to teach them?

This study by Spencer et al. evaluated a 10-week intervention designed to teach 10 words of relevance across school curriculum areas to small groups of children ages 12-14 years. Using a delayed intervention approach, all participants completed the assessment protocol at baseline, 6 weeks later during a no treatment period (baseline 2), 10 weeks later after which a group of 19 participants received the intervention, and 10 weeks later after the remaining 16 participants received the intervention. The outcome measure of interest was a study-designed measure of depth of word knowledge ranging from repeating the word to using the word in a personal context. The 10 target words, and 10 nontarget words matched in frequency of use were tested at each time point. The intervention involved a weekly focus on one word, and materials are available at the study website:
Results revealed a significant increase in target word specific knowledge immediately post treatment for both treatment groups.

The results of this study, although positive, do highlight the challenge of creating a lasting and significant change in vocabulary knowledge. The findings point to the need to incorporate vocabulary review consistently, repeatedly, and in a variety of contexts throughout children’s learning opportunities.

Blogger: Lisa Archibald

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