The study was conducted in Head Start classrooms in an urban county in northern Texas.
The sample included 45 children in Head Start classrooms (20 female, 25 male), aged 3–5 years old, with a mean age of 4 years, 3 months. The children were ranked and grouped into triads based on their scores on the PPVT-III. Within each triad, children were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: the use of questioning practices that were vocabularyeliciting, the use of questioning practices that were not vocabulary eliciting, and no questions (comparison). As a result, each condition had an assigned sample of 15 children. The analytic sample included 44 children: 15 in the vocabulary eliciting condition, 14 in the vocabulary noneliciting condition, and 15 in the comparison condition.
The two intervention conditions—the use of questioning practices that were vocabulary-eliciting
and the use of questioning practices that were not vocabulary-eliciting—included four sessions
conducted over a 6-week period. In the first three sessions, children met with the adult reader for one-to-one shared book reading and were asked six questions during the reading related to the story. Three age-appropriate storybooks were designed for the experiment. Two of the three books were read in each session. Nine words, each appearing twice, were embedded in the stories. In the fourth session, all three stories were read. In the condition that used vocabulary-eliciting questions, children were asked questions that did not contain the target words but required target words as answers (e.g., “what are these [point to skis]?”). In the condition that used questioning practices that were not vocabulary-eliciting, children were asked questions that contained the target words and did not require use of the target words in the answers (e.g., “where are the skis?”).
The comparison condition involved an adult reading one-to-one with a child, using the same
three storybooks as in the two intervention conditions. As in the intervention conditions, the
books were read to children at four sessions over a 6-week period. The adult read the book to
the child without asking any questions.
In the comprehension domain, two researcher-designed vocabulary measures were used:
Seasonal Word Production Game, in which children verbally provided labels for pictures of
the nine target words, with one point awarded for each correct response; and Seasonal Word
Comprehension Game, in which children heard each of the nine target words and selected
the corresponding pictures from among four choices, with one point earned for each correct
answer. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B. One-week
follow-up results are reported in Appendix D.
Support for implementation
The intervention and data collection were carried out by the author and one research assistant
(a doctoral candidate). During a 1-hour training session, the author trained the assistant to implement the intervention.