Conceptual or Theoretical Framework, Research Paper Example
Words: 1001Research Paper
Vocabulary comprehension is one of the most important parts of an education for one to pick up in school. The most prominent reason for its importance is its correlation with reading comprehension, an essential skill. This problem becomes extremely important for previously low achieving twelfth graders. Students in this year are likely in their final year of education especially if they do not make significant progress during this year. For this reason it is important to research into the best methods for teaching students of this nature.
Research necessarily has some sort of theoretical framework attached to it. Beliefs about theory necessarily influence the hypothesis present in experiments. Without some sort of theory there can be no hypothesis to test for, making the scientific method impossible. Theory then becomes the most important part of any research and must always be contained. In the case of vocabulary comprehension there are several theories on how it is best acquired and therefore how it can best be taught at a critical age. They can be seen as various teaching theories about how students best acquire the knowledge.
One educational theory directed towards trying to help students acquire better vocabulary comprehension skills is the keyword method. In this technique the student is given a synonym that he knows for a word he does not. Then somehow he draws a connection between the two based on a sound-alike word acting as a medium. After a certain level of comfort is built up with the previously unfamiliar word, the mnemonic connection can be dropped as the student has developed capability with the new word. The method has been proven effective in foreign language acquisition, but the benefits are less clear in first languages. One study has it that the method has a pronounced effect on retaining some part of the definition, but is less useful when it comes to recall the entirety (Pressley). However, it is a method to consider at this level.
A theory that deals with the learning that can be done outside of a classroom is that of the social exchange theory. This is derived from a broader theory of sociology and psychology in which actions are results of information picked up from other persons based on their actions. When applied to vocabulary, this would mean that vocabulary is spurred by the level of vocabulary sensed from the listener (Emerson).
Another learning method is for the student to focus on what is around the word when being approached with it. This is the contextual method for vocabulary comprehension. If the other words in the sentence are known and the grammatical role of the new word can be ascertained, then the meaning of the word may be within reach of the student. By learning the word in a reading situation and figuring out the meaning on their own, the student may be able to transfer vocabulary comprehension into reading comprehension more effectively while also learning a broader range of words.
This last point is perhaps a theory unto itself. A mnemonic method is limited in the number of words a student can learn. The words must be introduced to the student, who needs to invest time on creating the link he or she will use to remember the actual meaning. This requires a great deal of teacher aid and student times dedicated to the process. Unfortunately, the amount of time students and teachers can spend learning vocabulary is limited. By recognizing this, more effective methods can be figured out. Examples in which the student learns the words through a process they can undertake personally will allow the student to learn without teacher involvement, creating a greater upper limit for added words. This is known as the deeper processing method of learning (Stahl). In the case of 12th graders, those who learn this method will be able to continuing learning after their formal education has ended, an important bonus.
Another idea that can be applied to this idea would be making sure the student is introduced and exposed to the word multiple times. By this reinforcement, the learning process is supposed to go better. Multiple exposures give the students more opportunity to learn each word, increasing the margin of error for any method used along with the idea of increased exposure (Stahl). However, one area in which this is weak is that of limited resources. Introducing students to words takes time, and there is not an infinite amount of time for the student to work on this subject. The deeper processing method is most effective at combating this limitation, so some combination of the two could be effective.
It will take more research into each of these methods to determine which one has the greatest impact on practical vocabulary comprehension training. Besides studying which method is best for vocabulary comprehension per se, it may be beneficial to see which of these will work best in the ultimate goal of helping with reading comprehension. If the main goal of vocabulary comprehension instruction is accepted to be the increasing of reading comprehension and methods differ significantly in their ability convert vocabulary comprehension into reading comprehension, then measuring these differences is vital.
Another area in which there should be examination is how each method works when combined with other methods. The methods in some way seem to complement each other. For example the keyword method could help one memorize words that one is exposed to while the social exchange theory deals with how words are actually experienced in the first place. However, it could conversely be that using multiple methods dilutes the ability of each and actually harms the overall progress.
Emerson, Richard M. “Social Exchange Theory.” Annual Review of Sociology 2 (1976): 335 62. JStor. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/2946096>.
Pressley, Michael, Joel R. Levin, and Gloria E. Miller. “How Does the Keyword Method Affect Vocabulary Comprehension and Usage.” Reading Research Quarterly 16.2 (1981): 213 226. Print.
Steven, Stahl A., and Marylin M. Fairbanks. “The Effects of Vocabulary Instruction: A Model Based Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research. Sage Journals. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <http://rer.sagepub.com/content/56/1/72.short>.
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