Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Addressing the Effects of Reciprocal Teaching on the Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary of 1st-Grade Students

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Addressing the Effects of Reciprocal Teaching on the Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary of 1st-Grade Students

Article excerpt

This study evaluated the effects of Adapted Reciprocal Teaching (ART) on the receptive and expressive flight-word vocabulary of 1st-grade students. During ART, classroom interactions produced narrative contexts within which students assumed responsibility for applying new flight words in personally meaningful ways. Students in the control group also received interactive storybook instruction, but classroom interactions were led primarily by the teacher and focused only on the meanings of unfamiliar flight words. Students were assessed using the Receptive Flight Word Vocabulary Test (RFVT) and the Expressive Flight Word Vocabulary Test (EFVT). The data demonstrated that after the instructional intervention, the students in the ART group acquired significantly more target words (as measured by performance on the RFVT and the EFVT) than students in the control group. Results are interpreted in light of generative learning theory, and practical implications for introducing vocabulary in the early school years are addressed.

Keywords: vocabulary, reading, young children, English


The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of Reciprocal Teaching (RT; Palincsar & Brown, 1984), an empirically validated approach to classroom reading instruction, on the vocabulary growth of 1st-grade children. Although we know of no previous studies on the effects of RT on vocabulary acquisition, the features of RT allow us to hypothesize that it would be effective on both the receptive and expressive vocabulary growth of young children. (1) First, RT focuses classroom discussion on narrative accounts of text meaning, which has been shown to have positive effects on children's vocabulary and on the quality of the narratives they produce (Beals, 1997; Peterson, Jesso, & McCabe, 1999). Second, the instructional design of RT is modeled on cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991), where the transfer of cognitive responsibility for four different comprehension-monitoring strategies occurs as students develop expertise in using the strategies to understand the text. During this process, students generate personally meaningful connections between the text and their prior knowledge and experience, which has been found to be positively related to a number of outcomes, including recall and comprehension (e.g., Wittrock, 1990, 1991; Wittrock & Carter, 1975). There is evidence to suggest that such "generative" processes can also increase receptive vocabulary (Joe, 1998). From a pedagogical standpoint, therefore, the results of this study promise to provide teachers with additional empirical evidence supporting the use of effective classroom techniques for vocabulary acquisition.


Quality of Interactions Around Text

It has been demonstrated repeatedly that children acquire new vocabulary when they engage in storybook reading with an adult (e.g., Coyne, Simmons, Kame'enui, & Stoolmiller, 2004; Robbins & Ehri, 1994). Although explanations for this effect vary, it is believed that storybook reading is effective because the stories contain words that are not commonly found in everyday speech (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998) and also because shared reading provides rich contexts for discussions about the meanings of new words (Snow, 1983). Although young children can learn new words when they passively listen to an adult read a story (Robbins & Ehri, 1994; Senechal & Cornell, 1993), vocabulary growth is even greater when the child and adult engage in interactions that are centered on word meanings and ideas presented in the text (Senechal, 1997; Senechal, Thomas, & Monker, 1995; Wasik & Bond, 2001; Whitehurst et al., 1988).

Several scholars have tested the effects of a variety of interactive techniques used during shared reading sessions, including repeating what the child says (Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006; Whitehurst, et al. …

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