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Increasing Vocabulary Acquisition: A Comparison of the Effects of Rich Instruction and Rapid Rehearsal

Whitney Strong-Bak, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation compared the effectiveness of two vocabulary instruction techniques to determine which resulted in greater vocabulary acquisition. Three elementary-school students were screened on their receptive and expressive vocabulary skills using standardized measures to determine their baseline levels of vocabulary skill prior to identifying unknown vocabulary words. Target words were selected from the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2002) and included in the study if they were determined to be unknown by all of the participants. An alternating treatments design was used to examine the effect of two intervention conditions, rapid rehearsal and text talk, compared to a no-instruction control condition on participant’s correctly selected vocabulary words in both directly instructed contexts and novel contexts. The two intervention conditions were also compared to examine whether one resulted in greater correct responding relative to the other. The intervention conditions differed in the number of opportunities participants had to respond and the number of different training activities used to train each word. Participants were offered reinforcement contingent upon correct responding across conditions. Intervention conditions were implemented with a high degree of integrity, and results demonstrated that the interventions were differentially effective for each of the participants. For one participant, the rapid rehearsal intervention appeared to result in consistently better responding than no instruction or the text talk condition on measures of vocabulary knowledge in directly instructed contexts, and the text talk condition resulted in slightly greater vocabulary gains on average than the control condition. Another participant’s responding demonstrated that the text talk intervention resulted in consistently better responding than no instruction on measures of vocabulary knowledge in novel contexts. The third participant’s data revealed no differentiated responding between the three conditions on any of the measures of vocabulary knowledge. Possible explanations for the differential effectiveness the interventions had across participants were discussed. Additionally, the need for future research investigating idiosyncratic factors associated with differential effectiveness of vocabulary interventions and identifying individualized vocabulary interventions that target specific types of vocabulary deficits was discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Strong-Bak, Whitney, "Increasing Vocabulary Acquisition: A Comparison of the Effects of Rich Instruction and Rapid Rehearsal" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10829431.