Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Classwide Extensions of Vocabulary Intervention Improve Learning of Academic Vocabulary by Preschoolers

Seven, Y., Hull, K., Madsen, K., Ferron, J., Peters-Sanders, L., Soto, X., Kelley, E. A. & Goldstein, H. (2020). Classwide extensions of vocabulary intervention improve learning of academic vocabulary by preschoolers. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(1), 173-189.

Recent research has demonstrated that explicit teaching about words is an important part of effective vocabulary intervention. One example of explicit vocabulary teaching comes from the Story Friends curriculum designed by Goldstein and colleagues (2016). In the Story Friends program, children listen to pre-recorded audio storybooks in which target vocabulary words are introduced. The introduction of a target word is immediately followed by explicit teaching of that word. Children are exposed to that word in different contexts and over one-week children hear the story book three times. The intervention is 11 weeks long, includes 8 story books and 4 target vocabulary words per book. This program has been shown to support vocabulary development in preschool children. The current research wanted to extend the use of this program and combine it with Classwide Vocabulary Review Strategies (CVRS). CVRS are strategies for teachers to use with their whole class to increase vocabulary learning in children who are receiving the small group, Story Friends intervention. CVRS strategies include repeating the word, restating the definition and engaging in activities that involve using the word.

The present study examined the influence and implementation of CVRS in a preschool classroom. Researchers were interested in (1) whether the CVRS benefitted vocabulary development above and beyond the traditional Story Friends program and (2) teachers’ opinion of implementing CVRS in their classrooms. Prior to the intervention, children completed measures of expressive and receptive language, and during the intervention children completed weekly probes which assessed if a child had understood and remembered the vocabulary words introduced in the stories. Results revealed that for children who participated in the Story Friends program with CVRS, their vocabulary gain was twice that of children who only received the Story Friends intervention. When examining a group of children who only received the CVRS from the classroom teachers, these children demonstrated significantly more vocabulary gains than children who did not receive the CVRS. Finally, teachers were motivated to implement the CRVS, felt that they could use the target vocabulary words in their classroom, and thought that the strategies could be implemented in a reasonable amount of time.

These results suggest that the classwide extension of the Story Friends program supports a child’s vocabulary development above and beyond the Story Friends program. These findings provide further evidence that children learn new vocabulary better when the words are explicitly taught, they hear the words multiple times in different contexts, and they can engage in activities using the words.

Blogger: Meghan Vollebregt is a student in the combined SLP MClSc/PhD program working under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Archibald.

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