The purpose of this study is to determine if a vocabulary intervention program on conceptual understating can substantially affect a students’ vocabulary knowledge. This particular study focused on elementary school students who are deaf or hard of hearing and who have trouble with decoding vocabulary and word phrases. The study is a single-subject, multi-baseline to determine the effects of the vocabulary intervention on word recognition, production, and comprehension.
The new vocabulary words each week were introduced by three intervention components: word introduction, semantic mapping and practice. This study applies to communication disorders because students who are lacking vocabulary typical have additional reading or writing complications. These students with small vocabularies might be seen as lagging behind their peers. A call for intervention for these students most likely will be needed. This particular study specifies vocabulary interventions for students who are hard of hearing or deaf.
The study focuses on the use of the Dolch word vocabulary lists. Other studies similar to this particular one have been completed but those studies focused on a different commercially available program (the Fairview Reading Program) that incorporated several components of conceptual focus on vocabulary intervention such as phonemic awareness, word identification, reading comprehension, and communication skills. The study will add to the literature by examining specifically a method of helping improve vocabulary skills in students who are hard of hearing or deaf.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is what triggered a pressing need for interventions for children with hearing loss. One aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 states that all children will be reading a grade level by 2014. This standard has put a great deal of pressure to improve achievements of all children, especial those with disabilities. Unfortunately, many deaf and hard of hearing students still struggle with the skills to be a proficient reader such as comprehension, decoding skills, and word identification. Hence, this study is not the first of its kind.
Since, the Act of 2001, studies have been trying to find the best intervention to help this population of students. This research article is examining an intervention to see if will be successful for this particular population of students. The sample consisted of 6 students from an urban school in the Midwest of the United States. All the participants were in the second grade and their mean age was 8 years and 1. 5 months old. All the participants have bilateral sensorineural nature hearing loss ranging from moderate to profound.
Two of the students have amplification from cochlear implants and the remaining four students have hearing aids with FM systems. The communication mode both at home and at school for five out of the six participants is Pidgin sign language or ASL signs in English word order. The sixth student used both Pidgin sign language and ASL at home because her mother used Signed English and her father used ASL. At the onset of the study one participant was identified with Landau-Kleffner syndrome. During the study an additional two participants were identified as autistic, in addition to being deaf or hard of hearing.
The criteria to participate in the study included a need for intervention services. The students had to have a reading level that was below average/grade level by at least one year. The participants had to be between the ages of 7 and 10. Lastly the participants need to experience a difficulty with decoding and comprehension. The author recruited the classroom teacher to help collect data from the participants. The general educator was identified in a previous study as an exceptional teacher of the deaf and was recommended to the author by four professionals in the field of deaf and hard.
This particular teacher was chosen from a pool of recommended teachers. The six participants took part in 30-mintues of intervention two days a week over a 6-8 week time period. Another two days a week the students were tested briefly on the words and word phrases. The students learned and practiced one set of words on Monday and another set on Wednesday and then were assessed two days a week, the first set of words on Tuesday and the second set on Thursday. The vocabulary words and phrases were adapted from the Dolch words and bridge phrases.
The Dolch list contains 435 words divided by grade level from preprimer to third grade. In addition the Dolch has word phrases that can contain single or multiple meanings. Each participant was assessed individually. During the baseline and intervention periods literacy curricula was taught by the classroom teacher. The vocabulary instruction involved the use of spelling practice, flashcards, worksheets, and writing in various tactile forms such as rice or sand. Approximately three words were learned during each of one session for a total of six words per week.
Other intervention procedures included word/phrase introduction, word/phrase activity, and practice and sharing. During word/phrase introduction, the teacher would introduce words or phrases from the Dolch list that was preselected for the participants, by showing a written word or phrase, fingerspelling it, and demonstrating the sign for it. The students would then have to repeat. Students would explore the nature of each vocabulary word or phrase with examples or possible alternative meanings.
The use of the semantic mapping allowed for students visually display how words related to other words and to deepen their vocabulary meaning by exploring multiple meanings associated with the word. Lastly the students would practice and share their newly learned words or phrases by creating sentences that incorporated their individual words or phrases and then share them with a partner. Three dependent variables were chosen to determine the effects of the vocabulary intervention and students’ responses. The three variables recognition, production, and comprehension of vocabulary words.
The recognition of the vocabulary words was used by measuring the number of words or phrases the student accurately recognized. The production was measured on how many words or phrase the student could accurately produce. The researcher used word/phrase cards to test the students. The comprehension was measured by semantic mapping activity for each word or phrase. The number of words calculated this or phrases the student could comprehend accurately. All the dependent variables were conducted in the same manner during the baseline and intervention. They were scored on a three-level scale.
The scale ranged from mastered, has the student identified or produced the word or phrase accurately, emerging, has the student identified the word or phrase with approximation, and incorrect/not mastered, the student did not identify or produce the word or phrase accurately. The total number of vocabulary words and phrases learned varied by each participant. The given baseline for ranged from 21 to 42 words with the mean words or phrases being taught per student were 36. All the participants had substantial increases in the mean number of Dolch word recognitions from their baseline to intervention.
Word recognition increased from 0. 00-0. 33 words to 1. 87-3. 00 words out of 3. 00. Three of the six students immediately increased their performance from no words recognized to two words out of the three words. In addition, three students also increased their performance to mastering all three words. This demonstrated that the intervention had an immediate and positive effect on the student’s ability to recognize new vocabulary words.
In regards to the mean amount of Dolch words produced by the students throughout the intervention rose from 0. 0-0. 33 out of 3. 00 words to 1. 53-2. 87 words. Five students improved their production to reach mastery. After intervention the students could produce 2. 5 out of the 3. 0 words. Lastly the students also increased their comprehension of the Dolch words. During the baseline, the mean number of words comprehended ranged from 0. 00 to 0. 20 out of 3. 00 words. During the vocabulary intervention, the mean rose to 0. 69 to 2. 80 words. Four out of the six students demonstrated an improvement in their overall comprehension of the Dolch words.
The research concludes that vocabulary intervention grounded in conceptual emphasis can substantially and positively affect students’ vocabulary knowledge. The researchers compared their findings to previous studies involving Dolch words and found that more students mastered the recognition, production, and comprehension. Thus leading the researchers stating that the students in this particular research and intervention to be more successful at mastering the Dolch vocabulary words/phrases. Vocabulary intervention has a positive effect for all students involved across multiple types of variable and vocabulary words.
Vocabulary is an intricate role in deaf and hard of hearing students to understand and comprehend language and reading. The researchers stated that the difference in mastery of the Dolch words could have been due to the construction of the lists when compared to a similar study. The vocabulary or words could have been identified by Dolch to be a higher-grade level then what the common core and grade level states. The specific Dolch words selected for student mastery was not included in the research articles. The specific words could have correlated with more or less mastery of the vocabulary words during the intervention.
Another issue for word recognition is working memory overload. The researchers state that students might become overwhelmed in recognizing and comprehend the vocabulary words. This leads the students in their working memory to become overloaded since it has reached its capacity to process and store information. The limitation of the study is the number of participants involved in the study. A larger study should be constructed with a bigger group of students to determine if the Dolch word/phrase list intervention program is the best for all hearing impaired and deaf students.