Word power! How vocabulary instruction impacts the 10th grade biology class

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


High school science classes are heavy in content-specific vocabulary. Many students, particularly those who have lower reading abilities, have a difficult time answering the summative assessment questions because they cannot understand what the questions are asking. However, vocabulary instruction is often boring, ineffective, and time consuming. My purpose in conducting this classroom research project was to make realistic and sustainable changes to my vocabulary instruction using purposeful, effective, and engaging methods. In this study, students were taught vocabulary through the 'non-traditional' process of prioritizing vocabulary lists, coordinating morphemes, introducing words in context, explicit instruction through engaging activities, and teaching comprehension rather than memorization. The effect on assessment scores and student attitude were measured using pre and post-tests, surveys, content exams, and a teacher journal. Qualitative and quantitative data results suggest an increase in student content assessment scores and a positive effect on student attitudes.




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