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IES Contract

Title: 4KW: A Multimedia System for Ensuring that Grade School Students Know the Meaning of the 4,000 Most Frequently Used English Words
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Sales, Gregory Awardee: Seward Incorporated
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2.5 years Award Amount: $850,000
Type: Fast Track Award Number: ED07CO0043

Product Video Demonstration:

Purpose: The First 4,000 Words project team is developing a multimedia word-learning system for use with first to fourth grade students. This tool is intended to support student acquisition of the meanings of the 4,000 most frequently used English words when heard and seen in print. Through a speech recognition and feedback component, the product also is intended to facilitate students' ability to pronounce these words. The target population includes English language learners, struggling readers, or children from disadvantaged populations who have small vocabularies relative to their peers.

Project Activities: The project team is developing an individualized web-based system through which students are first assessed, then placed in one of 10 steps (simpler to more complex sets of words) based on assessed vocabulary knowledge, and then provided instruction with the goal of mastering all 10 steps. As part of the instructional component, the team is developing an automated speech component that records students' voiced pronunciations, judges the accuracy of the student's pronunciation, and then provides the students with feedback. The team is also developing an administrative website for teachers that will be used to monitor student progress, and a user manual that will include quick-start directions and a program overview. In order to assess feasibility and usability, and to gather preliminary data on potential efficacy of the intervention to improve student's vocabulary, a randomized controlled study will be conducted in three schools and 36 classrooms. In these schools, half of the first through fourth grade classrooms will be randomly assigned to use either the intervention or their "business as usual" curricula. Analyses will compare the differences in scores between groups on standardized vocabulary test scores.

Products: The product is the First 4,000 Words program, a web-based system for ensuring students know the meanings of the 4,000 most frequently used English words. This program requires little teacher time and can supplement regular curriculum in first through fourth grade,and will include four components: a placement test administered by the teacher, 400 Web-based lessons for student use, an administrative website for learner management, and a teacher's manual.

Project Website: