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Vocabulary learning in hypertext
Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Education, Curriculum and Instruction
This study is concerned with compiling a vocabulary lesson on computers. With the help of computer technology such as hypertext, designers of vocabulary lessons should consider lexical structure of the target vocabulary and the organization of the mental lexicon.
According to the componential analyses (Leech, 1974; Lehrer, 1974) and models of lexical relations (Evens, 1988; Evens et al., 1980), each word has its structures and relations with semantically related words. The relations can be synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, hyperonymy, meronymy, and grading. As for the lexical structures and relations in our minds, psycholinguists (Aitchison, 1987) have found evidence that the mental lexicon is organized as a network. Vocabulary lessons designed to teach our students how to acquire the target vocabulary should include lexical structures and relations.
The vocabulary lesson discussed in this dissertation is based on the discussions of psycholinguistic evidence and linguistic analyses. The non-linear linking of the target vocabulary associate kinship terms according to the componential analyses. Through such associations on hypertext, students are able to not only learn the meanings of kinship terms but also know how each target word is related to others. Because students might get lost in the hypertext environment and cause inefficient learning, guidance proposed by Cheng (1993 & 1995) is implemented in the lesson. Informational guidance provides a learning history of the student and an overview of the lesson. This helps students reason out where they are in the lesson. Interventional or proactive guidance intervenes in students' exploration and provides reasons for intervention. It serves a reminder for students of their divergence.
In order to provide authentic examples for students when necessary, English Word Usage (Cheng, 1991; EWU) is incorporated. The software retrieves authentic examples from the Brown Corpus (1982) when students find that examples provided in the definitions are insufficient. Because EWU shows a full sentence in which a target word exists, the examples can also be used for the study of collocations. The study of how a target word is combined with others helps students understand how a word is used with other words in various word classes.
The target vocabulary in the lesson is kinship terms which demonstrate a hierarchical structure. The goal of the lesson, therefore, not only is to understand how kinship terms are structured but also is to learn how to acquire a set of words related in meanings. Students are expected to learn the strategy of vocabulary learning after the lesson.