Enhancing Academic Vocabulary Knowledge through Evidence-based Instruction

By Lee Pond, Deslea Konza and Mark Hackling.

Published by The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 25, 2014 $US5.00

Declining levels of adolescent literacy and the negative impact low literacy levels have on individuals’ economic, social and personal outcomes (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011) are of increasing concern to educators and the wider community. A strong contributor to the development of literacy skills is vocabulary knowledge (Beck, McKeown and Kucan 2008). In secondary school, academic vocabulary becomes increasingly important. Academic vocabulary consists of two elements: content specific and general terms. Students must make meaningful use of academic vocabulary in their written work to demonstrate understanding and knowledge in content areas. The purpose of this research was to assess the impact of explicit, evidence-based vocabulary teaching on student vocabulary knowledge and its use in writing. The study involved students in one Year 8 Social Studies classes in each of two Australian secondary schools. Teachers were trained in the use of a number of different explicit vocabulary-building strategies. Writing samples were collected before and after the strategy instruction, and all students participated in pre and post-assessments measuring their knowledge of target words relating to a history topic. Preliminary findings indicate that students in both schools made gains in both targeted vocabulary knowledge and use. The uptake of the strategies by the content specialist teachers will also be discussed.

Keywords: Secondary Students, Vocabulary Instruction, Explicit Teaching

International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 20, Issue 3, April 2014, pp.79-89. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 25, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 642.398KB)).

Lee Pond

PhD Candidate, Fogarty Learning Centre, School of Education, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

After many years’ experience as a secondary English teacher, Lee Pond has moved into the role of supporting teachers of secondary students with learning difficulties. She has a particular interest in the teaching of vocabulary, and how this may assist both reading of content-specific text and academic writing.

Dr. Deslea Konza

Director - Fogarty Learning Centre, Faculty of Arts and Education, School of Education, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia

Deslea Konza is interested in supporting students with a range of special educational needs, with a particular focus on students with reading difficulties. She has been involved in a number of large research projects aimed at developing the literacy knowledge and pedagogical practice of classroom teachers in the area of reading instruction.

Prof. Mark Hackling

Associate Dean-Research, Edith Cowan Institute of Education Research, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

From a wide background in science education and broader educational research, Mark Hackling’s research interests currently lie in developing the pedagogical skills of teachers through shared video analysis of their classroom practice.