Understanding academic vocabulary is essential to student success in school. Use of academic vocabulary words in writing is considered one of the strongest measures of how well a reader understands a given word. In theory, willingness to use academic vocabulary in writing indicates the complexity of acquiring representations of the word’s orthography, phonology, and semantics based on the word’s characteristics. In addition, a learner’s overall literacy skills should relate to whether they attempt to use words. In the present study, sixth graders (n = 66), seventh graders (n = 60), and eighth graders (n = 41) learned 25 academic vocabulary words in a supplementary academic vocabulary intervention and were then asked to use those words in short persuasive essay drafts. We measured whether these students attempted to use a word (a binary uses outcome) and the number of times a student used a word (a continuous attempts outcome) and used cross-classified random effects models to examine how (a) the orthographic, phonological, and semantic characteristics of words and (b) the students’ literacy-related characteristics related to their uses and attempts. For word characteristics, students were more likely to use and attempt high frequency than low frequency words. For student characteristics, students proficient on the state exam were more likely to use and attempt the words, and students learning English were less likely to attempt the words. Implications for vocabulary intervention and writing instruction are discussed.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: May 18, 2016
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