The effects of the 5E learning cycle on student integration of science vocabulary
Generaux, Shari Lynn.
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Teachers at Elmhurst Community Prep have been using a traditional approach to teach vocabulary to middle school students for the past 5 years. This strategy involves frontloading terms and definitions using a worksheet which requires students to record each word and definition and then create a sentence and image prior to interacting with the content. The expected outcome of strategy was to support students who were reading below their grade level. Data from classroom assessments and state testing showed that 8th grade students continued to struggle reading text, worksheets and assessment questions. However, on occasions when inquiry instruction was used, student assessments scores increased. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of the 5E Learning Cycle on 8th grade physical science students' ability to use vocabulary on written assignments, discourse and assessments. Students were given an opportunity to engage and explore content prior to the introduction of vocabulary. Students also time to interact with vocabulary through practice and interactive games on the computer. Pre-treatment and post-treatment data was collected using student assessment data, student notebooks, written assignments, teacher observations and surveys. The results of the study show most students made gains in their academic performance. Whole grade level data, from classroom assessments, showed a gain of 5% for both male and female students. However, the data also revealed that African American females gained 11% on assessment scores and Vietnamese females gained 8%. Another notable gain, of 7% was identified among female English Language Learners. In addition to improved student performance on assessments, students' opinion and engagement with vocabulary improved. The results of this study suggest that inquiry based instruction does improve students ability to use and engage with vocabulary with the greatest gains among female students.