WWC review of this study

Supporting Vocabulary Teaching and Learning in Prekindergarten: The Role of Educative Curriculum Materials [World of Words vs. business as usual (HighScope)]

Neuman, Susan B.; Pinkham, Ashley; Kaefer, Tanya (2015). Early Education and Development, v26 n7 p988-1011. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1070888

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: January 2022

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Language outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Comprehension composite measure (Neuman et al., 2015)

World of Words (WOW) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
143 students





Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test IV (PPVT-IV)

World of Words (WOW) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
143 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 1% English language learners

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
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    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
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    • L
    • P
    • M
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    • Q
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    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Midwest, Northeast
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


This study took place in ten state-sponsored pre-K classrooms in five elementary schools located in a “severely economically depressed urban fringe area in the rustbelt region.” Teachers participated in a full day of professional development (PD).

Study sample

The authors note that the groups were comparable in age and receptive language, as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. However, there were significantly more boys than girls in the intervention group and significantly more African American children in the intervention group than in the comparison group. All children spoke English as their primary language. About 62% of the intervention group and 69% of the comparison group received free or reduced-price lunch. Each participating teacher was a White female with a bachelor's degree, a specialist certificate in early childhood, and more than five years of preschool teaching experience.

Intervention Group

The intervention classrooms participated in the World of Words (WOW) embedded multimedia supplemental intervention, which was designed to support vocabulary and conceptual development. The curriculum is organized by topics with category-specific properties identified for each topic. An example of a category-specific property for the topic of plants is that they need water, sunlight, and air. Teachers first introduced vocabulary words through video clips and through information books and picture cards, and children engage in using the words. The intervention comprised an eight-day instructional sequence designed to help teachers scaffold children’s learning, moving toward increasing cognitive demand. The intervention began in September and continued for 12 weeks. Daily sessions took between 12 and 15 minutes and replaced a portion of whole-group instructional time.

Comparison Group

The comparison classrooms were business-as-usual. Teachers used High/Scope as their curriculum framework and did not participate in the PD session.

Support for implementation

Intervention teachers participated in a full day of PD focused on educative curriculum materials, which are designed to promote student and teacher learning. During the PD session, teachers learned about the rationale, materials, and procedures for the intervention. They also learned how each of the materials could be used in teaching the curriculum.


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