Year of Publication

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Health Sciences

Department

Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Sharon Stewart

Second Advisor

Colleen Schneck

Abstract

Research has shown that cultural differences and the lack of experiences in the lives of young children can affect the rate of vocabulary development. In particular, children from different ability, socioeconomic status, and culturally and linguistically diverse groups are considered at risk for later academic achievement because their home experiences and word usage may be incongruent with that of the mainstream school cultural environment. Therefore, it has been suggested that to decrease the gap between children in need of vocabulary development and their typically achieving peers, instruction in vocabulary should systematically provide information about words and their uses. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a systematic vocabulary instructional technique in children with clinically depressed vocabulary skills. An additional goal was to examine the role of book type in the retention of novel vocabulary words among young African American children. Using an Adapted Alternating Treatments Design, five children were read two storybooks in the context of robust vocabulary training. Storybooks were used as a source for contextualizing novel vocabulary words. One book depicted an African American theme and images and the other depicted a Caucasian theme and images. Robust vocabulary instruction consisted of frequent and varied opportunities for word usage in meaningful contexts that stressed the relations between target words and previously acquired vocabulary. Childrens productive definitions were used to assess developing word knowledge at 4 periodic probes. Definitions were scored using a 4-stage continuum ranging from no knowledge to full concept knowledge. Results showed significant gains in word learning for novel words two weeks following conclusion of the study. The difference in scores between the instructional and control word sets resulted in a large effect size attributable to robust vocabulary instruction. African American children appeared to learn words at a deeper level from a storybook that displayed sociocultural images and experiences different from their own.

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