Vocabulary Theatre: A Peer-teaching Approach for Academic Vocabulary Acquisition

Elizabeth Robb, Richard Sinatra, Robert Eschenauer

Abstract


This mixed methods counterbalanced study compared the gain score means of two different approaches to vocabulary acquisition – Vocabulary Theater (VT) and Teacher Directed Instruction (TDI) for 8th grade students from three schools in New York. The purpose of the study was to explore the effects of a peer teaching approach on students’ vocabulary development. Students in the VT condition were instructed to take ownership of their words by teaching them to their peers. They received both linguistic and non-linguistic representations of 30 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) words over a three-week period, while the TDI condition students were instructed over the same three-week period to define the same 30 SAT words through the use of a dictionary and then use the words in sentences. The study’s counterbalanced design ensured that all students received each vocabulary condition. Students were given a pre- and posttest to examine their level of vocabulary acquisition in each condition. A survey given to the students in the VT condition revealed that on average 43% of the students were totally unfamiliar with the words presented, 14% had an associative connection with the words presented and 13 % were very familiar with the words. Qualitative data were collected from all three schools in the form of group discussions, VT presentations, individual interviews, teacher interviews, and classroom observations. The quantitative analysis revealed that the gain scores of students in the Vocabulary Theatre were significantly greater than the gain scores of students in the TDI condition regardless of the presentation order.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies ISSN 2324-805X (Print) ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)
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