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Title:The Role of Reading Comprehension and Local Context Characteristics in Word Meaning Acquisition During Reading
Author(s):Diakidoy, Irene-Anna N.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Anderson, Richard C.; Nagy, William E.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Education, Reading
Abstract:Although a number of studies have examined vocabulary acquisition from context and the factors that might affect it (Carnine, Kameenui & Coyle, 1984; Jenkins, Stein & Wysocki, 1984; Nagy, Anderson & Herman, 1987; Schatz & Baldwin, 1986), the findings do not present a very clear picture as to the extent to which such learning takes place. One possible reason for the inconsistent findings is related to the way the context of a word has been conceptualized. Context has generally been assumed to refer to the immediate or local context that happens to surround a word. This conceptualization of context is limited in the sense that it does not take into account the mental representation that the reader is constructing on the basis of a variety of information contained in the text as well as prior knowledge.
The primary purpose of this research was to assess the role that comprehension of text plays in the acquisition of word meanings from context, and to compare it to the effects of local context characteristics such as proximity and directness of context clues. In addition, the effects of knowledge of enabling or superordinate concepts on the learning of unfamiliar word meanings were also examined. Experiment 1 was designed to explore the effects of relevant prior knowledge which has been found to influence comprehension on vocabulary acquisition while reading. Experiment 2 was designed to assess whether an after-reading task assessing comprehension of text has an effect on the amount of word learning that takes place. Comprehension questions following the reading of the passage may provide an opportunity to enrich the mental representation of text and subsequently increase word learning.
Text comprehension was found to facilitate the acquisition of both unfamiliar words as well as words representing enabling concepts. On the other hand, the effects of the local context characteristics were not significant. This finding points to the need to broaden our operationalization of context to include information that the reader has available in addition to information that is printed in close proximity to an unfamiliar word. Knowledge of enabling concepts was found to have a significant effect on the amount of word learning that takes place from context. Finally, neither a familiarization treatment designed to introduce the main topic of the passage, nor after-reading comprehension questions were found to have significant effects on vocabulary acquisition from context.
Issue Date:1993
Description:169 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329013
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1993

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