The effect of a vocabulary intervention on the spelling, reading and lexical skills of French-speaking grade 4 students

The effect of a vocabulary intervention on the spelling, reading and lexical skills of French-speaking grade 4 students

First Author: Amélie Bourcier -- Universite de Montreal
Additional authors/chairs: 
Rachel Berthiaume; Daniel Daigle; Dominic Anctil
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The overall objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of an intervention program focusing on the explicit teaching of vocabulary words to Grade 4 students in order to improve their spelling, reading and lexical skills. Method: French-speaking students (n = 300) from 12 regular classrooms were recruited. The experimental program was spread over 17 weeks and the training itself took place during 8 weeks (with 2 periods of 60 minutes per week). The pretest and post-tests consisted in two vocabulary tasks (breadth and depth measures), a spelling task and a reading comprehension task. Results: Mixed design ANOVAs with time (pretest/post-test 1 and 2) as the within-subjects factor and group (treatment and control groups) as the between-subjects factor were used in order to evaluate the effects of our intervention program. Small to medium effects within subjects and groups were found on all measures, showing improvement from pretest to post-test 1 or post-test 2 for all participants. Small interaction effects were found on spelling and vocabulary depth, indicating better improvement for treatment groups. No interaction effects were found on the comprehension test and vocabulary width test, showing no better improvement between the treatment group and control group for these measures. Conclusions: The pedagogical practices that result from our research contribute to the development of vocabulary depth as such as well as the skills related to their spelling, but further research is needed to better understand the links between vocabulary, spelling and reading comprehension from an educational point of view.