Partial word knowledge growth through incidental learning from text by school-age children with normal language abilities
MetadataShow full item record
Incidental exposure to vocabulary through reading is a primary means by which children develop new vocabulary. Because this process of incidental word learning is incremental, however, traditional measures of receptive or expressive word mastery would likely underestimate vocabulary growth. As an alternative, measures of partial word knowledge might better detect slight changes in knowledge growth. Previous research in this area has focused on detecting word knowledge growth, rather than describing the type of growth that occurs. This research has, nevertheless, paved the way for examinations of the type of word knowledge accrued once linguistic factors and participant performance factors are considered. The purpose of the present study, then, was to examine the types of partial word knowledge growth that occurred from one exposure to unfamiliar words in text. In particular, the roles of individual ability-related factors, context, and part of speech were examined. Sixth grade children with normal language, cognition, and hearing were recruited for the three-session study. Participants read stories containing unfamiliar nouns and verbs. The children then completed checklist and multiple choice posttests designed to be sensitive to partial word knowledge growth. Results suggested that only word discrimination knowledge was detected from the childrenï¿½s single exposure to words through independent reading. None of the ability measures was significantly related to word learning. Moreover, the word discrimination knowledge growth that occurred for verbs was not significantly different from that for nouns. Finally, there was not a significant relationship between contextual richness and word learning. Results were interpreted to suggest that one exposure to unfamiliar words is insufficient for demonstrations of a range of types of word knowledge growth. Given the nature of the word learning that was observed in the present study, the hypothesized relationships among the word learning observed and language abilities, reading abilities, as well as contextual support of the words in the passages, might not be expected.