A comparison of three approaches to vocabulary improvement in ninth grade language arts : an experimental study Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x633f377j

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  • This study compared three approaches to the improvement of vocabulary in ninth grade language arts classes: the direct-teaching approach, the interest-in-words approach, and the wide-reading approach. Answers to the following questions were sought: which of these approaches to vocabulary improvement is more effective than each other approach used in this study; which of these approaches to vocabulary improvement is least effective compared to each other approach used; and is there a significant difference in vocabulary improvement when each experimental approach group is compared with the control group where no designated emphasis was placed on the teaching of vocabulary? Eight classes in four junior high schools in the Salem Public Schools, Salem, Oregon, participated in a 14 week study. The sample consisted of 164 ninth graders: 130 in the three experimental groups and 34 in the control group. The teachers of each experimental group emphasized the improvement of vocabulary according to the experimental approach for which they volunteered. The teacher of the wide-reading approach placed emphasis on wide reading and gave class time for free reading. The teacher of the interest-in-words approach group required her students to prepare notebooks with exercises using new words and emphasized the etymology of words. The teacher of the direct-teaching approach stressed the specific teaching of new vocabulary words using word lists, emphasizing prefixes, suffixes, and root words as means of learning new words. According to the Diagnostic Reading Test, vocabulary section, a comparison of pretest and posttest scores within groups revealed the interest-in-words approach group resulted in significant improvement at the .05 level. A comparison of the mean gain in vocabulary improvement between the experimental groups shows that the experimental approach groups did not differ significantly in vocabulary improvement as measured by the mean gain from the pretest to posttest. When the experimental groups were compared to the control group, the interest-in-words approach group showed improvement significant at the .05 level. According to the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, vocabulary section, a comparison of pretest and posttest scores within groups revealed improvement significant at the . 01 level for the experimental groups and at the .05 level for the control group. When experimental groups were compared with each other, none of them was significantly better than the others. When the experimental groups were compared with the control group on this measuring instrument, there were no significant differences. The t test statistic was used to determine if there were significant differences between the mean raw score gains of pretest and posttest performances for both evaluative instruments. A study of the varied findings of the present experiment where two evaluative instruments were used but where the results were widely different, raises questions as to the validity of standardized tests of vocabulary. Perhaps one of the reasons why there is little agreement about the most effective method of teaching vocabulary is that vocabulary tests used may not be measuring the effectiveness of vocabulary teaching and are not in agreement in evaluating results. It may be concluded that further research is needed in specific structured approaches to teaching vocabulary as well as preparing better instruments of measuring vocabulary.
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