The effects of vocabulary instruction in a high school earth science classroom on students with disabilities and English-language learners
Flores, Leslie Jane
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To excel in science, students must master its content-specific vocabulary. Students with disabilities and English-language learners tend to struggle with learning content-specific vocabulary because they are still developing their English language skills and/or have below grade-level reading and writing skills due to their learning disabilities. This in turn makes it more difficult to perform well on assessments because they do not understand all the words used in the questions and answer choices. The struggle to understand content and low assessment scores can decrease students' self-efficacy in science class and make them dislike the subject. The purpose of this descriptive study was to provide more explicit and engaging vocabulary instruction in my special education earth science classes in hopes of increasing students' assessments scores as well as improving their self-efficacy and attitudes towards science. Students were explicitly taught vocabulary using a prioritized vocabulary list, instruction on relevant morphemes, and weekly use of the website/app Quizlet in class during the treatment unit. The effect on assessment scores and students' attitudes towards science were measured using pre- and post-tests, surveys, a content unit exam, and a teacher journal. Analysis of qualitative and quantitative data suggest an increase in students' content assessment scores and a positive effect on student attitudes.