How to Teach 1000 Vocabulary Words Using the Internet

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Simon Fraser University]On: 19 November 2014, At: 11:59Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Journal of College Reading andLearningPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ucrl20

    How to Teach 1000 VocabularyWords Using the InternetJoAnn Yaworski & Nabil IbrahimPublished online: 08 Jul 2014.

    To cite this article: JoAnn Yaworski & Nabil Ibrahim (2001) How to Teach 1000Vocabulary Words Using the Internet, Journal of College Reading and Learning, 31:2,133-142, DOI: 10.1080/10790195.2001.10850110

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  • JoAnn Yaworski,Nabil IbrahimHow to 'Thach1000 VocabularyWords Using theInternet

    How can you teach 1000 vocabulary words to developmental college read-ing students in one semester? A vocabulary project is described that pro-vided students an incentive for studying an electronic 1000 word vocabu-lary list. Through the use ofa word processor and the internet, studentscreated and distributed word lists to the class and provided and adminis-tered quizzes for their word lists. Students who participated in the 1000-word project scored significantly higher on the Nelson-Denny Reading Testthan students who studied vocabulary using traditional textbooks.

    I t is commonly known among readingprofessionals that vocabulary knowledge increases reading comprehen-sion (Anderson & Freebody, 1981; Bauman & Kameenui, 1991; Beck &McKeown, 1991; Mezynski, 1983) and is, therefore, a desirable outcomeof reading instruction. Although it is understood that vocabulary in-struction should be a part of reading instruction, questions arise as towhich teaching methods are the best. In order to conceptualize theanswer to this question, let us examine what is true about vocabulary

    JoAnn Yaworski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literacy at WestChester University, West Chester, PA 19383, E-mail: jyaworski@wcupa.edu. Sheteaches Developmental Reading and Study Skills as well as graduate andundergraduate courses in Reading Education. She also is content provider for manyweb-sitecompanions to college-level readingand study skills textbooks. Nabillbrahimis a Grover C. Maxwell Professor of Business Administration, College ofBusinessAdministration, Augusta State University, Augusta, GA 30909, E-mail:nibrahim@aug.edu.

    1000 Vocabulary Words 133

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  • 134 Journal of College Reading and Learning, 31 (2), Spring 2001

    instruction. According to Beck & McKeown (1991): (1) All methods arebetter than none; (2) no method has been consistently superior; (3) avariety of techniques creates an advantage; and (4) repeated exposurescreate an advantage. In addition to this, vocabulary instruction improvescomprehension when students are given sufficient practice and breadthof information about the words and when activities are used that en-courage active processing of information.

    Although there has been recent curiosity about computer-based in-struction, not enough research has been done in the area of college-level vocabulary to determine its effectiveness as a method and/ormode of instruction. Much of the research that has recently been citedas evidence for or against computer-based instruction has been writ-ten before 1995 (Kulik & Kulik, 1991; Moore, 1993; Reinking & Bridwell-Bowles, 1991; Wepner, Freeley, & Wilde, 1989). Even literature reviewsthat have been published since 1995 rely heavily on information thatwas gathered in the 80's and early 90's. For example, of the 36 studiesmentioned in Kuehner's (1999) review, only one has been publishedsince 1995.

    Although this may seem fairly recent, one must consider that before1995 most, if not all, computerized instructional materials were lim-ited to DOS-based programs and the majority of the population did notuse the intemet. In contrast, the turn of the century has seen an explo-sion of high caliber electronic materials in the field of reading such ason-line web-sites and Windows-based floppy disks (See Appendix 2).New to publishing are CD-ROMs and on-line companions that accom-pany reading textbooks (Yaworski, 2000a, Yaworski, 2000b, Yaworski,200la, Yaworski, 200lb, Yaworski, 2001c). Also new to education areintranet web-enhancement software programs and very little researchhas been done on the effects of web-based and/or web-enhanced read-ing courses. Researchers need to become familiar with new develop-ments in electronic materials and numerous experiments using themneed to be devised and implemented before conclusions can be drawnas to the effectiveness of modern computer-based instruction.

    Since no method has been shown to be consistently superior andcomprehension improves when active processing of information isencouraged, a project was developed that increased student participa-tion in the learning process while using an electronic mode of instruc-tional delivery. This study describes how the direct instruction of vo-cabulary words via the computer actually increased motivation andcreated an advantage for students who failed to pass a standardizedexam. The idea for using a lOOO-word list posted on the internet camein response to students' feelings of defeat upon failure to pass the Nel-

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  • 1000 Vocabulary Words 135

    son-Denny Reading Test after one semester of traditional instructionin a remedial college reading class.

    MethodParticipantsThe participants were 24 students from a remedial reading class inwhich text-based materials were used for vocabulary instruction and19 students from a similar class in which computer-based vocabularyinstruction was given. In both classes, 80% of the students were Afri-can-American and 20% were of European descent. Approximately 80%of the students in both classes were female and all but one were be-tween the ages of 18-30. All participants were local residents of thesouthern city in which the university was located. For lack of a com-munity college in this location, the university played the role of bothuniversity and community college. Therefore, students who failed theentrance requirements in reading were required to take remedial read-ing courses and were limited to college credit courses that requiredlittle or no reading. All students in both classes were repeating thelower level reading course the spring semester after having failed itduring the fall semester. The class constituted a mix of students fromdifferent sections of the fall semester reading classes and none hadbeen taught previously in a computer lab. The following variables wereconsistent for both classes: (l) instructor, (2) time of year, (3) time ofday, (4) method of instruction and (5) access to the same vocabularytextbook.

    Description of the ProjectThe teaching method used for both classes was the direct instructionof vocabulary through definition/dictionary. The control group used atextbook that presented the words, definitions, and a series of practiceexercises (Smith, 1997). Although the experimental group had accessto this same book and were told to use it as a reference if additionalexamples of word usage were needed, their focus was directed to the1000-word list posted on the internet. The mode of delivery of instruc-tion was changed in three ways: (1) the students took responsibility forthe creation and organization of instructional materials; (2) the stu-dents took responsibility for the evaluation of learning; and (3) thematerials were created by using an electronic word list, an electronicdictionary, and a word processor (See Appendix 1).

    'TWo class periods were spent teaching the students how to use acomputer. More specifically, students were taught (l) how to use aword processor, (2) how to access the 1000-word list from the internet,

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  • 136 Journal of CollegeReading and Learning, 31 (2), Spring 2001

    (3) how to access Webster's Electronic Dictionary, and (4) how to tog-gle between applications on the computer. Then, the list was dividedequally among the students in the class. In this case, each student wasassigned approximately 53 words. Each student copied and pasted theirwords from the vocabulary list posted on the internet. Then, using theelectronic dictionary, students chose the most common definition foreach word and pasted that definition next to the word. The instructormonitored their choices and edited their lists when there was a need.The students were responsible for photocopying and distributing theirword lists to the class.

    Next, the students created a quiz using the words from their list.Students were instructed to create a quiz based on one or more of thefollowing formats: multiple choice, true-false, matching, fill-in-the-blank,and analogy. Not surprising, after 12 years of schooling and testing,the students were very familiar with the components of exams andwere able to produce quizzes with matching keys in an expert-likemanner. They also exhibited a sense of pride in their work. One stu-dent was appointed the task of creating a time schedule for the distri-bution of the word lists and for the administration of the quizzes andthe syllabus was reorganized to reflect this schedule. All word lists andquizzes were placed on floppy disks to be edited and corrected by theresearcher before their distribution.

    At the end of the semester, both groups were given the vocabularyand comprehension sections of the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, FormF (Brown, Bennett, & Hanna, 1980).

    Findings & DiscussionThe analysis of the data was conducted as follows. A one-way analysisof variance (ANOVA) was performed to explore differences in scoresbetween the groups. The two groups constituted two levels of the inde-pendent variable while the test scores were the dependent variable.The results, depicted in Table I, show statistically significant differ-ences between the two groups of students (F

    J39 = 4.969, P = 0.0316).

    Specifically, as depicted in Thble 2, the mean score for the experimen-tal group was 88.76, with a standard deviation of 9.46.

    Contrary to the findings of Peterson, Burke, and Segura (1999) inwhich no advantage was discovered by using computer-assisted instruc-tion, students in this study who were involved in the 1000-word projectscored higher on the Nelson-Denny Reading Test (combined scores)than the students who were instructed through text-based means. Inaddition, follow up interviews were conducted to determine the im-pact of computer-based instruction on the students' motivation and

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  • 1000 Vocabulary Words 137

    attitude. The overwhelming majority mentioned the internet vocabu-lary project as being the most helpful instrument in increasing theirreading skills.

    Thble 1Analysis of Variance Results

    Degrees of SignificanceSource of Variation Sum ofSquares Freedom Mean Square F-ratio Level

    Between GroupsWithin GroupsThtal

    444.229834486.8922

    3931.1220

    1

    3940

    444.2297989.40749

    4.969 0.0316

    Table 2Comparison of the ThJo Groups

    Group N Mean Standard Deviation Standard Error

    ComputerTextbook

    1724

    88.7682.08

    9.079.46

    2.201.93

    Professor: Which materials and exercises do you think helped youthe most?Student 1: 1000 useful wordsStudent 2: Making up the definitions and the testsStudent 3: Doing the vocabularybecause your interpretation ofwhatyou read has a lot to do with knowing what the words mean.Student 4: Vocabulary and some textbook assignmentsStudent 5: Vocabulary quizzesProfessor: What could be done to improve this course?Student 3: More [computer] lab projectsStudent 6: Labs! More computer labs.

    Limitations and ImplicationsNeither incidental learning ofvocabulary words from magazines, books,television, and conversation nor reading experiences that took placeoutside of class such as magazines, textbooks, or literary works couldnot be controlled for and should be noted as possible causes for in-creases in vocabulary and/or comprehension skills.

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  • 138 Tournai of College Reading and Learning, 31 (2), Spring 2001

    ReferencesAnderson, R.C. & Freebody, P. (1981). Vocabulary knowledge, In J.T. Guthrie, (Ed.),

    Comprehension and Teaching, (pp. 77-Il7). Newark, DE: International Reading Associa-

    tion.

    Bauman, J.F. & Kameenui, E.J. (1991). Research on vocabulary instruction: Ode to

    voltaire. In J. Flood, (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching the English language Arts,

    New York: Macmillan, 604-631.

    Beck, 1. & McKeown, M. (1991). Conditions of vocabulary acquisition. In PD. Pearson

    (Ed.), Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. 2, pp. 789-814, New York: Longman.

    Brown, J.E, Bennet, J.M. & Haanna, G.S. (1980). The Nelson-Denny Reading Test (Form

    F), Chicago, IL, Riverside.

    Kuehner, A.V. (1999). The effects of computer instruction on college students read-

    ing skills. The Journal of Reading & Learning, 29, (2), 149-165.

    KUlik, C.L. & Kulik, J.A. (1991). Effectiveness of computer-based instruction: An up-

    dated analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 7 (1),75-94.

    Mezynski, K. (1983). Issues...