This study was designed to demonstrate the effect of implementation of multi-component vocabulary strategy instruction in fourth grade social studies. The components used included explicit instruction, student study teams, active engagement in learning tasks, vocabulary maps, connections webs, and semantic feature analysis.
The focus was on using direct, explicit instruction of vocabulary strategies and the resulting outcomes. Curriculum was designed for a six-week period using the district curriculum and state-required knowledge and skills for fourth graders. Teachers were randomly chosen for assignment to the group receiving the intervention and/or to the control group. The curriculum for this study was designed to actively engage students and to reinforce retention of word meanings in isolation as well as in context.
The study included three different school districts, five separate campuses, and a total of 375 students in grade four. There were 23 teachers in the study with students in 29 separate classes. Measures were employed to determine if there was an effect on the students in the classrooms receiving the intervention versus those receiving regular classroom instruction. Measures used included a comprehension test, a content test, a curriculum-based measure, checkpoints for content, similar to a unit test, the TORC3 vocabulary subtest for social studies, and the Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency (TOSCRF).
A preliminary analysis included reliability coefficients of all instruments used in the study. Difference score analyses and descriptive statistics, along with a one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and a repeated measures MANOVA were completed using the effect for group, effect for time, and the interaction effect. The final analysis included a plot of classroom means for each of the instruments used in the study.
Outcomes were consistent across all administered measures. Although growth was demonstrated in both the group receiving the intervention and the group receiving regular classroom instruction, the gains were consistently greater overall with the classrooms receiving the intervention. Experimenting with practices to determine their effectiveness is critical for improving classroom instruction, and this study demonstrated that students were retaining knowledge even after six weeks post-intervention.