Socially mediated vs. contextually driven vocabulary strategies: Which are most effective?
Curtis, Consuelo Yvonne, 1958-
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Curtis, Consuelo Yvonne, 1958-
Results of the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported the need for improving reading comprehension, especially in the upper elementary and middle school grades. Because the field of vocabulary research evidenced the strong relationship between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension, the National Reading Panel (2000) recommended the inclusion of direct vocabulary instruction as a necessary component in a comprehensive reading program. The field of vocabulary research, however, lacks consensus on which strategies result in the most gains in vocabulary development and reading comprehension. In this study, vocabulary development of students who learned word meanings through socially mediated strategies was contrasted with students who learned word meanings using contextually driven strategies. A total of 14 teachers of fifth grade students were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. The intervention group taught the socially mediated strategies of semantic mapping and the Frayer model. The teachers in the comparison group taught contextual and morphemic analysis, both contextually driven strategies. The effects of these two types of vocabulary instruction were measured using three tests, two proximal researcher developed vocabulary assessments and the more distal Gates MacGinitie vocabulary assessment. Results of this study revealed that while students in both groups made significant gains as measured by the more proximal measures, students taught through contextually driven strategies gained the most. On the distal measure only the students taught socially mediated strategies improved their performance. This study adds to the field by confirming three prior findings. Direct vocabulary instruction improved students' vocabulary development. Instruction in contextually driven strategies improved students' vocabulary learning when the dependent measure assessed knowledge of taught words. Instruction in socially mediated strategies improved students' vocabulary development when the dependent measure assessed unknown words.
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