Analysis of lexical quality and its relation to writing
quality for 4th grade, primary school students in Chile
Published online: 23 March 2016
Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016
Abstract Few studies have addressed vocabulary quality in developing writing
skill in Spanish. Even less addressed it within the Chilean educational system. The
speciﬁc objective of this study was to characterize, using a comprehensive set of
indicators, the quality of the vocabulary produced by Chilean 4th grade students.
Based on a national writing survey, a sample of 2056 texts written by 685 students
was collected (narrative, persuasive, and informative texts). Current literature
deﬁnes lexical quality as a composite of diverse factors that, while distinct, are
interrelated. To represent the properties of the vocabulary, a set of indicators were
selected: (a) lexical diversity; (b) lexical sophistication; and (c) lexical density.
Using multilevel modeling (students and schools as levels 1 and 2) to explain a
global writing score we found that diversity was a signiﬁcant determinant for
narrative and persuasive texts, density was a signiﬁcant determinant for the three
genres and sophistication was a signiﬁcant determinant for narrative and expository
text. In addition, indicators related to gender and socioeconomic conditions were
only signiﬁcant determinants of narrative stories. The parts of speech most often
used also varied according to the purpose of each text. In all genres, words had a
short extension and were very sensitive to the input presented in the stimuli. These
results imply a signiﬁcant challenge to this education system: how to promote the
development of vocabulary in all children in order to support language learning.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11145-016-9637-9)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
& Gabriela Go
Center for Advanced Research in Education, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
Arauco Fundation, Santiago, Chile
Carrasco Tapia N8 75, Santiago, Chile
Read Writ (2016) 29:1317–1336