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Beyond Vocabulary Lessons: Improving Academic Vocabulary Equity for Fifth Grade Students with Specific Reading Disabilities Through Sustained Use in Reciprocal Dialogue

Light, Sherry (2023) Beyond Vocabulary Lessons: Improving Academic Vocabulary Equity for Fifth Grade Students with Specific Reading Disabilities Through Sustained Use in Reciprocal Dialogue. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation investigates the potential of sustained use of academic vocabulary in reciprocal dialogue to improve educational equity for fifth-grade students with specific reading disabilities. Students with reading disabilities often struggle with acquiring academic vocabulary, which can hinder their overall academic performance and limit their access to educational opportunities. While traditional vocabulary instruction methods exist, they may not effectively address the unique needs of students with reading disabilities.
This improvement project aims to explore the effectiveness of incorporating increased academic vocabulary use in dialogue among fifth-grade students with specific reading disabilities in an inclusive school setting. Reciprocal dialogue is examined as a supplemental approach that emphasizes active engagement, contextualization, and social interaction.
To achieve the objectives, the “Plan, Do, Study, Act” or PDSA improvement model was applied. The participants included all fifth-grade students with specific reading disabilities enrolled in the district’s special education reading classroom. Visually simple posters, coteaching and collaboration were introduced to reinforce academic vocabulary use in classroom dialogue. The project was conducted over a period of three months, with regular reciprocal dialogue sessions incorporated into the students’ inclusive general education reading curriculum.
The outcomes of the student group’s performance on vocabulary questions were compared with the number of times targeted vocabulary terms occurred during observation periods in the inclusion reading classroom. There was no correlation between the total number of times a vocabulary term was used and the participants’ performance on vocabulary questions but there was evidence that sustained use of vocabulary terms in reciprocal dialogue improved group performance. The data collected indicates that vocabulary use in the classroom increased with a combination of approaches.
The findings of this paper will contribute to the existing body of research on vocabulary instruction for students with reading disabilities, highlighting the potential benefits of sustained use of academic vocabulary in reciprocal dialogue. The results will inform educators and curriculum developers on innovative approaches to address academic vocabulary equity for students with specific reading disabilities. This initiative seeks to empower students with reading disabilities by equipping them with the necessary vocabulary skills to succeed academically and participate fully in educational settings.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Light, Sherryhayweiser@gmail.comsll730009-0000-6617-6920
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberSrsic,
Committee MemberPerry,
Committee ChairRobertson,
Date: 21 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 June 2023
Approval Date: 21 September 2023
Submission Date: 2 August 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 120
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: academic vocabulary; fifth grade; learning support; reading disability, inclusion, disability equity, educational equity, vocabulary instruction, vocabulary retention, improving equity, sustained use in dialogue, reciprocal dialogue, Tier-2 vocabulary, Tier-3 vocabulary, common core, curriculum, Pennsylvania core curriculum,
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 20:46
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 20:46


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