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Effectiveness of a whole class vocabulary programme for secondary school students from areas of social disadvantage

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posted on 2014-10-10, 14:46 authored by Aoife McNamara
Background: Decreased vocabulary skills have been identified in adolescents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Reduced language competence during adolescence is linked to poor academic achievement and social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Research for adolescent language intervention is limited and there is a lack of evidence for effective intervention with adolescents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Aims: To investigate whether a whole class vocabulary programme implemented by teachers in socially disadvantaged secondary schools will improve students’ performance on selected vocabulary measures. The study also aimed to investigate if there is a relationship between students’ pre intervention scores and amount of improvement following intervention. Methods & Procedures: 245 first year students (M= 12; 8) from four socially disadvantaged secondary schools participated in the study. Whole schools were randomly assigned to two groups: treatment versus waiting controls. All participants were assessed pre and post intervention on the BPVS III and CELF 4 subtests. The treated group received 12 weeks of whole class vocabulary intervention delivered by secondary school teachers in a classroom setting. The vocabulary programme targeted key concepts and vocabulary through word associations, categorisation, mind mapping and word-building. Outcomes & Results: There were significant interaction effects (time x group) for 3 of 5 vocabulary raw score measures, indicating a greater degree of improvement for the treated group. Pos-hoc analysis demonstrated that the treated group made significant gains over time on all vocabulary measures. Correlations showed significant (p < .05) small to medium negative correlations between the treated group’s scores at pre intervention and amount of improvement for the majority of vocabulary measures. Conclusions & Implications: The current study is one of the first randomised control trials to demonstrate improved student performance on widely used vocabulary measures following whole class vocabulary intervention delivered by teachers in socially disadvantaged schools. The findings provide positive support for SLT and teacher collaborative work, adolescent vocabulary intervention and whole class intervention for adolescents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The positive results may encourage future research with adolescents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and influence the professionals who work with this population.

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  • Master (Research)

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non-peer-reviewed

Language

English

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