Fostering the development of vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension though contextually-based multiple meaning vocabulary instruction

The purpose of this study was to test the effects of vocabulary instruction, using words with multiple meanings (i.e., contextually-based multiple meaning vocabulary instruction), on the vocabulary and reading comprehension of students. Over a three-month period, the treatment group received language arts instruction embedded within contextually-based multiple meaning vocabulary instruction. Students in the control group received the standard language arts instruction (non-specific treatment). Students were classified as low (or average) to high based on initial overall vocabulary and comprehension achievement. A total of 143 male third- and fifth-graders were in the intervention group and 140 were in the comparison group. About 32% of the students qualified for free or reduced lunch, 16% spoke English as a second language, and 10% received special education services. Students in the intervention group showed statistically and educationally significant gains in vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension as compared to students in the control group. Gains were most evident in reading comprehension. Though all students with low initial vocabulary and reading comprehension showed greater gains than those who were average to high initially, the effects were most prominent for third graders.

Nelson, J. R., & Stage, S. A.
Education and Treatment of Children, 30(1), 1-22.
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Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
early elementary
intermediate elementary
IDEA Disability Category: 
major-other health impairment
specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
Instructional Support: 
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities
National Reading Panel Standards: 
English Language Arts: 
Reading: Foundational Skills
Reading: Informational Text
Reading: Literature