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IES Contract

Title: Word-Learning Strategies: A Program for Upper Elementary Readers
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Sales, Gregory Awardee: Seward Incorporated
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 1/2 years Award Amount: $850,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES09C0013

Product Video Demonstration:

Purpose: Research indicates that to be proficient readers, high school graduates need to know between 40,000 to 80,000 vocabulary words. Given that teachers and curricular materials cover only a fraction of these words, providing younger students ways to independently learn words is crucial. This project is developing a comprehensive teacher-led program to provide grade 4 and 5 students strategies for inferring the meanings of unknown words encountered while reading. The strategies include using context, word parts (compound words, inflectional suffixes, prefixes, derivational suffixes, and roots), glossaries, and dictionaries effectively.

Project Activities: The project team is developing, testing, and refining all materials required for the intervention, called Word-Learning Strategies. The intervention will include both teacher and student materials. The team will develop online tutorials, videos that illustrate how to implement Word-Learning Strategies, and a teacher manual. Student materials to be developed include student activity books, and assessments of word learning. After initial prototyping, a series of iterative studies will be conducted to identify and correct any deficiencies or errors. In the final year of the project, a pilot study will be conducted in 8 classrooms over 15 weeks to determine the feasibility and usability of the intervention, and the promise of the program for increasing students' levels of vocabulary knowledge. A teacher survey and observation protocol will be used to assess the fidelity of implementation.

Products: Word-Learning Strategies will supplement existing teacher practices, and will be intended to be used 3 days per week over a 15-week span, for approximately 30 minutes per day. Student materials will include student activity books, and researcher-developed pre and posttests. Teacher materials will include online tutorials, videos to prepare teachers to use the materials, a teacher manual, and presentation materials (e.g., overheads/slides, posters). The program is intended for all students. There will be additional materials for students who need extra assistance and for English learners.