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Title:Learning vocabulary from context: Effects of focusing attention on individual words during reading
Author(s):Stallman, Anne Cooper
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pearson, P. David; Nagy, William E.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Tests and Measurements
Education, Elementary
Education, Reading
Abstract:Incidental acquisition of vocabulary knowledge during everyday reading has received attention by researchers in the attempt to explain the tremendous growth of children's vocabulary knowledge during their school years (Herman, Anderson, Pearson, & Nagy, 1987; McKeown, 1985; Nagy & Anderson, 1984; Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987; Sternberg, 1987). However, the results of the research on learning vocabulary from context have been mixed, only sometimes have students clearly demonstrated learning from context. Several explanations have been posited in the attempt to explain the inconsistencies in this research--differences attributable to the distinctions between learning word incidentally during reading and deriving word meanings, the possibility that vocabulary acquisition may be incremental in nature, the possibility that children's ability to learn vocabulary may be influenced by general verbal ability, and the possibility that learning of vocabulary may be influenced by passage comprehension.
The present study was designed to investigate the effects of either directly (asking children to identify and/or learn difficult words) or indirectly (highlighting difficult words for the children) focusing children's attention on words during reading on their learning of difficult vocabulary in texts. Overall word learning was examined as a function of these attention orienting conditions and as a function of the interaction of these conditions with general verbal ability and passage comprehension.
In order to account for the possibility that learning of vocabulary might be incremental in nature, a validation study of different test formats was conducted first. The purpose of this study was to examine the concurrent validity of several paper and pencil measures, using an interview as the criterion measure, in order to choose a measure that most closely reflected children's actual word knowledge and would be sensitive to small changes in their word knowledge. The Contexts Test was chosen because it met these criteria.
The results of the learning from context study showed that children of all ability levels do learn vocabulary from reading. However, focusing children's attention on words during reading had no effect on vocabulary learning. However, it had a significant negative effect on passage comprehension and passage comprehension had a significant positive effect on learning of vocabulary.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Stallman, Anne Cooper
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136743
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136743

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