A Phase 2 Exploratory Trial of a Vocabulary Intervention in High Poverty Elementary Education Settings

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

A Phase 2 Exploratory Trial of a Vocabulary Intervention in High Poverty Elementary Education Settings


  • Maria Cockerill School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
  • Allen Thurston School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
  • Andy Taylor Fischer Family Trust Literacy, UK
  • Joanne O’Keeffe School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
  • Tien‐Hui Chiang School of Educational Science, Anhui Normal University, China


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Abstract:  This article reports results of a phase 2 exploratory trial of a vocabulary program delivered in elementary schools to improve student’s reading ability, including their comprehension. The intervention was tested as a targeted intervention in classrooms with children aged 7–10 across 20 weeks during one school year, with eligible students learning in small groups of four. Teachers and support staff received training in this cooperative learning approach to develop children’s vocabulary with particular focus on Tier‐2 words. School staff received additional support and resources to equip them to develop and implement the vocabulary instruction sessions to targeted students. The trial was undertaken with a sample of 101 students in seven schools from three English district areas with high levels of socio‐economic disadvantage. A standardized reading test was used to measure reading outcomes, with significant gains found in student’s overall reading ability, including comprehension. Owing to the positive results found in this trial, including positive feedback about implementation of the technique, next steps should be a larger trial with 48 schools to avoid the risk of sampling error due to limited number of schools.

Keywords:  elementary education; literacy; reading comprehension; teacher development; vocabulary

Published:   13 October 2021


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i4.4553


© Maria Cockerill, Allen Thurston, Andy Taylor, Joanne O’Keeffe, Tien‐Hui Chiang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.