Changes in the role of reading on vocabulary learning from early childhood to adulthood

Changes in the role of reading on vocabulary learning from early childhood to adulthood

First Author: Laura Shapiro -- Aston University, UK
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jessie Ricketts; Sanne van der Kleij
Keywords: Print Exposure, Vocabulary, Frequency, Development, Growth Modeling
Abstract / Summary: 

Reading is important for vocabulary learning and print exposure is assumed to be the key driver: people who read more books are exposed to a greater number and diversity of words, providing greater opportunities for learning the meanings of those words. This symposium will track vocabulary learning from books across development, highlighting how this process differs in pre-readers, young readers, adolescents and adults: (i) simple (non-tactile) picture-books best facilitate vocabulary learning in pre-readers; (ii) reading ability becomes increasingly important for vocabulary learning as books include increasingly rare words; (iii) both reading ability and exposure are important drivers of vocabulary even into adolescence (iv) skilled adult readers efficiently learn new word meanings from stories, with learning becoming richer with more exposures, and following sleep (offline consolidation). Our discussant will consider how reader and text-level factors relate to learning and the dynamic roles of reading ability and print exposure during development.

Symposium Papers: 

Lift-the-flap features in ‘First Words’ picture books impede word learning in pre-readers

First Author/Chair:Jeanne Shinskey -- Royal Holloway University of London

Purpose
Toddlers learn more about the world from picture books with photographs instead of drawings, but commercial books often have tactile features such as flaps that may counterintuitively hinder learning. This study tested how lift-the-flap features in a commercial picture book of first words affected 2-year-olds’ (N = 32) learning of a new word for an unfamiliar food.

Method
Sixteen children saw the original lift-the-flap book and 16 saw the same book except that it was modified to have no flaps. The researcher went through the book with the child, labelling each fruit and vegetable six times. All children were unfamiliar with starfruit and were taught that it was called “carambola”. After they saw the book, children’s learning was tested by asking them to choose the target (i.e., “Show me carambola.”) from an array of three photos and then from an array of three food objects.

Results
Children who saw the lift-the-flap book chose the carambola target significantly less often than those who saw the modified no-flap book, and only those who saw the no-flap book performed above chance. However, the two groups did not differ in recognizing six higher frequency food words that were also presented in the book. Thus, 2-year-olds’ word learning was hindered when taught using a book with tactile features versus one without.

Conclusions
This finding supports dual representation accounts arguing that a symbol’s concreteness interferes with representation of its abstract referent, and cognitive load accounts suggesting that tactile features distract attention from the book’s content.

Changes in the influence of word reading on vocabulary growth from Kindergarten to grade 10

First Author/Chair:Dawna Duff -- University of Pittsburgh
Additional authors/chairs: 
Bruce Tomblin

Purpose. Schooling could influence vocabulary growth via both oral and written input. We first examine the effect of kindergarten reading-related skill on vocabulary growth rates in grades K-4. Because books intended for young readers to read independently contain limited new vocabulary, we predict limited or no effect. This contrasts with later school years, when reading experience (indexed by Gr4 word reading) is associated with vocabulary growth in Gr4-10: the “reading rich” get “vocabulary richer” (Duff, Tomblin & Catts, 2015). We also hypothesize a negative relationship between oral input before school (indexed by SES) and vocabulary growth rates in K-Gr4 i.e. the “vocabulary poor” may get “vocabulary richer”, if schooling increases oral exposure to new words for those with lower language input prior to school.
Method Children (n=486) were tested in kindergarten, Gr2, and Gr4. Composite vocabulary and early reading scores and were calculated, with IRT used to equate vocabulary scores across grades. Analyses were conducted for early (K-4) school years and results compared to later school years (4-10). Vocabulary data (K, Gr2, Gr4) was fit with a mixed effect model, with grade and SES as simple fixed effects, and grade*SES, and grade*kindergarten-reading as interaction effects.
Results. We found differences in the role of reading ability on vocabulary growth in early and later school years, with fourth grade reading most strongly associated with vocabulary growth rates (F(1,485)=15.88,p<0.001, parameter of 0.001).
Conclusions. The relationship between reading and vocabulary is dynamic, with reading skill becoming increasingly important for accessing words that are rarely used in oral language.

Modelling the association between reading and vocabulary: both reading experience and reading ability drive vocabulary knowledge in 10-12-year-olds

First Author/Chair:Laura Shapiro -- Aston University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Sanne van-der-Kleij; Adrian Burgess; Jessie Ricketts

Purpose
Independent reading is an important source for vocabulary learning. It has also been shown that better readers read more and have larger vocabularies. However, it’s not clear what drives this relationship. Whether more able readers can allocate more cognitive resources to vocabulary learning, whether more reading experience exposes more able readers to a wider range of words, or both. We examined the association between these constructs, from primary up to the first year of secondary school.
Method
Participants in the Aston Literacy Project (N = 788, Birmingham, UK) were assessed on their vocabulary and letter sound knowledge at school-entry (age 4 years). At ages at ages 10, 11, and 12 (n=298) they were re-assessed on standardised measures of vocabulary and word reading efficiency and completed a questionnaire about their reading practices.
Results
Structural equation models revealed that both word reading ability and reading experience contributed to vocabulary knowledge at ages 10-12, after controlling for school-entry vocabulary. Reading experience partially mediated the relation between reading ability and vocabulary, Δχ2(1) = 50.18, p < .001, and this effect was stable over time (Δχ2(6) = 4.57, p = .60).
Conclusions
Word reading ability contributed to vocabulary both directly and indirectly via reading experience, over and above pre-school vocabulary. This suggests that interventions to improve basic reading skills should continue into early secondary school, and any improvements in reading will contribute to vocabulary learning. Moreover, it suggests increases in independent reading will also affect vocabulary learning.

Skilled adult readers efficiently learn new word meanings from stories, with learning enhanced by sleep

First Author/Chair:Rachael Hulme -- Aston University and University College London UK
Additional authors/chairs: 
Jennifer Rodd

Purpose
We often learn new meanings for known words, for example due to language evolving (‘tweet’-Twitter message/bird call) or starting a new hobby (‘boom’-sailing term/loud noise) and these are normally acquired incidentally from context when reading/listening. To do this, adults must integrate new meanings with existing word knowledge. The Complementary Learning Systems model (Davis & Gaskell, 2009) suggests that information is encoded into hippocampal episodic memory, and after offline consolidation (e.g., during sleep) becomes integrated into neocortical semantic memory. We investigated whether sleep is important for active consolidation of word meanings.

Method
In Experiment 1 eighty-four participants learned new meanings for familiar words through reading stories in the evening or morning, and were tested following 12 hours of sleep or wake. Experiment 2 (preregistered: https://osf.io/uvgp4) aimed to distinguish between active and passive benefits of sleep on memory of word meanings. Eighty-four participants had two training sessions and one test session at 12-hour intervals, but began and completed the study either in the morning or evening.

Results
Learning of new meanings was reasonably good for all conditions. However, in both experiments, participants who slept had better explicit knowledge (recall and recognition) of new meanings than participants who had a no-sleep delay.

Conclusions
Skilled adult readers can learn new meanings for known words from stories with relative ease and sleep provides passive protection against interference due to less opportunity to encode new information.

DISCUSSION

First Author/Chair:DISCUSSANT Kate Nation -- University of Oxford