Article effects of multimedia-enhanced instruction on the vocabulary


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Article effects of multimedia-enhanced instruction on the vocabulary

  1. 1. The Effects of Multimedia-Enhanced Instruction on the Vocabulary of English-Language Learners and Non-English-Language Learners in Pre-Kindergarten Through Second Grade Rebecca Silverman University of Maryland—College Park Sara Hines Hunter College This study compared traditional and multimedia-enhanced read-aloud vocabulary instruction and inves- tigated whether the effects differed for English-language learners (ELLs) and non-English-language learners (non-ELLs). Results indicate that although there was no added benefit of multimedia-enhanced instruction for non-ELLs, there was a positive effect for ELLs on a researcher-designed measure and on a measure of general vocabulary knowledge. Furthermore, for children in the multimedia-enhanced condition, the gap between non-ELLs and ELLs in knowledge of instructional words was closed, and the gap in general vocabulary knowledge was narrowed. The multimedia support did not negatively impact non-ELLs, indicating the potential of multimedia-enhanced vocabulary instruction for ELLs in inclusive settings. Keywords: vocabulary, multimedia, storybook reading, English language learners, instruction Researchers agree that insufficient vocabulary knowledge is a critical problem for many young children, particularly English- language learners (ELLs; August & Shanahan, 2006; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Children need to know a wide range of words to understand the texts they will encounter in school. Many ELLs who come to school with limited English-language background find that vocabulary is their most frequently encountered obstacle in attempting to access information from classroom texts (August & Hakuta, 1997; Carlo et al., 2004; Jime´nez, 1994). Given the growing number of ELLs in U.S. schools, research to determine effective instructional techniques to assist young children from diverse linguistic backgrounds in acquiring early vocabulary knowledge is of utmost importance. One instructional technique that shows promise for supporting the vocabulary development of ELLs is the use of multimedia, in which content is presented through a combination of various visuals and sounds. An example of multimedia is video that contains live action, animation, voice-overs, text, and music. Re- cent research suggests that complementing the traditional story- book reading format, in which children hear a book read aloud and see the static pictures in the book, with a multimedia presentation that reinforces the meaning of the text may benefit children learn- ing a second language (Verhallen, Bus, & de Jong, 2006). It is hypothesized that augmenting the primarily verbal and limited nonverbal information conveyed in the traditional storybook read- ing experience with added nonverbal information in the form of dynamic audiovisual reinforcement may enhance the vocabulary growth of ELLs. In the study described here, we investigated the effect of adding multimedia reinforcement in the form of video to traditional vocabulary instruction provided through reading story- books aloud and, specifically, explored whether multimedia- enhanced instruction is differentially effective for English lan- guage learners and non-English language learners (non-ELLs). Effective Vocabulary Instruction for Non-English- Language Learners Most research on vocabulary instruction has been conducted with non-ELLs in the context of traditional storybook reading, also known as read alouds (e.g., Beck & McKeown, 2007; Biemiller & Boote, 2006; Coyne, Simmons, Kame’enui, & Stoolmiller, 2004; Penno, Wilkinson, & Moore, 2002; Robbins & Ehri, 1994; Silver- man, 2007a, 2007b; Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006). Research indicates that instruction during read alouds should be direct and rich (Beck & McKeown, 2007; McKeown & Beck, 2004; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], 2000). Specifically, when reading storybooks to beginning or non-readers, teachers should provide children with definitions that are child friendly and explicit and actively engage children in word analysis. This includes comparing, contrasting, and connecting word meanings and relating new words to children’s background knowledge and to new and varied contexts beyond the book in which the word appeared (Beck & McKeown, 2007; Dickinson & Smith, 1994; Hargrave & Se´ne´chal, 2000; Penno et al., 2002; Silverman, 2007b; Wasik et al., 2006; Whitehurst et al., 1994). Also, instruction should provide children with clear phonological and orthographic representations of targeted words to aid storage in and retrieval from memory (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Juel & Deffes, 2004; Silverman, 2007b). Finally, words should be reinforced and repeated for optimal learning (Beck & McKeown, 2007; Biemiller & Boote, 2006; NICHD, 2000). Rebecca Silverman, College of Education, University of Maryland— College Park; Sara Hines, Department of Special Education, Hunter Col- lege of the City University of New York. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rebecca Silverman, College of Education, University of Maryland, 1308 Benjamin Bldg., College Park, MD 20742. Journal of Educational Psychology © 2009 American Psychological Association 2009, Vol. 101, No. 2, 305–314 0022-0663/09/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0014217 305
  2. 2. Vocabulary Instruction for English-Language Learners Research suggests that vocabulary instruction that works for non-ELLs works as well if not better for ELLs (August & Shana- han, 2006; Carlo et al., 2004; Collins, 2005; Silverman, 2007a). In a study in which the same research-based vocabulary intervention was implemented through read alouds with both non-ELLs and ELLs in kindergarten, ELLs grew in knowledge of words targeted in the intervention at the same rate and grew in general vocabulary knowledge at a faster rate than their non-ELL peers (Silverman, 2007a). In fact, it may be that some components of vocabulary intervention are especially important for ELLs. Because ELLs may not understand the meaning of many foundational vocabulary words (e.g., same versus different), they may need additional or different instructional support than non-ELLs during vocabulary instruction (Gersten & Baker, 2000: Gersten & Geva, 2003; Moats, 2001). For example, illustrating words and acting out words have been suggested as two strategies that may be particularly helpful in teaching vocabulary to ELLs (Gersten & Baker, 2000; Gersten & Geva, 2003; Roberts & Neal, 2004). Augmenting vocabulary in- struction with multimedia enhancements such as video may be another way to support the vocabulary learning of ELLs (Cham- bers, Cheung, Madden, Slavin, & Gifford, 2006; Kamil, Intrator, & Kim, 2000). Multimedia Support for Vocabulary Instruction The hypothesis that multimedia enhancements may encourage vocabulary learning is supported by Paivio’s (1986) dual-coding theory, which posits the existence of separate systems for process- ing verbal and nonverbal information. According to this theory, when information is conveyed both verbally and nonverbally, these two systems support each other and enable greater informa- tion recall. Multimedia enhancements may provide children with more robust nonverbal information than that presented in the static pictures in storybooks and allow children to more effectively use their nonverbal processing system to support their verbal process- ing of the storybook content. Though some critics may argue that multimedia could detract from children’s learning by diverting their attention away from verbal content, Neuman (1997) has suggested in her theory of synergy that augmenting verbal information with multimedia en- hancements may actually contribute to children’s learning of new content by providing them with added tools for processing new information. In fact, multimedia enhancements such as zoom shots and sound effects could make actions more salient and draw children’s attention to germane details that will foster their under- standing of important concepts (Kamil et al., 2000). However, in spite of the popularity of multimedia with young children and arguments supporting its usefulness for vocabulary instruction, research investigating the effect of multimedia support for vocab- ulary instruction has been limited. A review of some of the existing research follows. Non-English-Language Learners Much of the research investigating the effect of multimedia on children’s vocabulary has focused on educational television. For example, in a study with preschool children, Rice and Woodsmall (1988) investigated whether children learn words while watching educational television in an experimental setting and whether such learning is influenced by the children’s age, their vocabulary level, and the type of words introduced. After viewing a 15 min educa- tional television program with voice-over narration featuring 20 novel words, the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group on object, action, and attribute words but not on affective words. The researchers found that the results were stronger for older children, but the effects were not limited to children with more advanced vocabularies. Rice, Huston, Truglio, and Wright (1990) looked at the effects of viewing educational television at home in a 2-year longitudinal study with children who were between 21⁄2 years and 41⁄2 years old at the beginning of the study and found that children who had watched Sesame Street more frequently earned higher scores on a measure of receptive vocabulary. There was no effect for watching other television programming such as cartoons. The relationship between educational television viewing and vocabulary was only significant for the younger children. Rice et al. suggest that this difference by age might be due to the waning appeal of Sesame Street as children become older. Linebarger, Kosanic, Greenwood, and Doku (2004) examined the effect of educational television viewing on literacy develop- ment, including vocabulary growth, with children in kindergarten and first grade. The participants viewed 17 episodes of Between the Lions, a series created to teach emergent literacy skills, in their classrooms. Teachers were directed “not to discuss or refer to the show, link it to other classroom activities, or otherwise integrate it into the day-to-day curriculum” (p. 305). Although Linebarger et al. found higher word recognition and standardized reading scores, as well as improvement on phonemic awareness and word recog- nition tasks, for viewers over controls, there were no significant differences for vocabulary-related tasks. They suggested that fu- ture research explore whether reinforcement of television viewing through classroom conversation and related activities would lead to different results. In summary, research investigating the effect of multimedia, specifically television programming, on vocabulary instruction with a general population of young children has led to inconclusive results. It seems that the effects of educational television could depend on children’s age and interest in specific content, the type of words introduced through the educational programming, the nature of the content itself (e.g., noneducational cartoons versus educational programming such as Sesame Street and Between the Lions), or the setting of the television program viewing (i.e., at home or in school). Additional research on the effect of multime- dia on vocabulary is needed. Furthermore, considering that the studies previously described were conducted with primarily mono- lingual, English-speaking children, it is important to look at the effect of multimedia with children from other linguistic back- grounds as well. English-Language Learners A few studies have been conducted to investigate the effective- ness of educational television and other multimedia support of vocabulary for young ELLs. For example, Uchikoshi (2006) ex- amined the vocabulary growth of Spanish–English bilingual kin- dergarten students in school who had been assigned to groups in 306 SILVERMAN AND HINES
  3. 3. which they watched educational television programs, either Arthur or Between the Lions, or to a control group. Experimental groups did not receive classroom reinforcement of television viewing. As in the Linebarger et al. (2004) study, classroom viewing of the educational television programs did not have an effect on vocab- ulary growth. However, Uchikoshi also found that children who watched the two educational TV programs at home had stronger vocabularies at school entry than those who did not. Uchikoshi (2006) suggested that the positive effects of home viewing in contrast to classroom viewing might be related to reinforcement of words introduced in the programs by parents and siblings. Similar to Linebarger et al. (2004); Uchikoshi (2006) suggested that for non-ELLs and ELLs alike, viewing educational television pro- gramming may be more effective with instructional scaffolding to promote incidental vocabulary learning. Chambers et al. (2006), rather than using educational television programs, looked at the effect of multimedia support specifically created to reinforce vocabulary words contained in the Success for All reading program (Success for All Foundation, Baltimore, MD). The authors stated that the multimedia materials (i.e., video clips) were developed to be particularly beneficial to English language learners, who constituted a third of participants. The authors stated that the results partially supported their hypothesis that multimedia would enhance beginning readers’ achievement. Results did not differ for non-ELLs and ELLs. However, although vocabulary was an instructional focus, vocabulary outcomes were not measured. The researchers recommended future research investigating the effects of multimedia-enhanced instruction on vocabulary growth. In a study particularly relevant to this investigation, Verhallen et al. (2006), working with children learning Dutch rather than En- glish, explored whether multimedia features enhanced the reading progress of second-language learners in kindergarten. Children in the experimental group watched a computer presentation of a storybook that included, in addition to the spoken text and static pictures presented to the control group, zoom shots and other multimedia effects (e.g., sound) to focus the children’s attention on important visual details. The comprehension of the children in the experimental group was significantly better than those in the control group. Also, even though vocabulary was not taught di- rectly in the multimedia condition, the experimental group evi- denced greater gains in vocabulary. As with research conducted with non-ELLs, research on the effects of multimedia for supporting the vocabulary learning of ELLs is inconclusive. While some of the research suggests that multimedia support may enhance the word learning of second- language learners (Verhallen et al., 2006), other research suggests that multimedia, at least without instructional scaffolding, does not have added benefit for ELLs (Uchikoshi, 2006). Additionally, while Chambers et al. (2006) did not investigate gains in vocab- ulary, their research suggests that multimedia instruction may not be differentially effective with non-ELLs and ELLs. Further re- search on the effect of multimedia on vocabulary for both non- ELLs and ELLs is needed. Current Study The research questions guiding this study were the following: (a) What is the effect of a multimedia-enhanced read-aloud vo- cabulary intervention as compared with a read-aloud vocabulary intervention that does not include multimedia enhancement on early elementary school–aged children’s knowledge of words tar- geted in the intervention, general vocabulary knowledge, and knowledge of the content introduced in the intervention? (b) Does the effect depend on children’s language background (i.e., whether children are ELLs or non-ELLs)? Method Sample The study was set in a small, semiurban public school in the northeast. The teachers of the pre-kindergarten through second grade English-language classrooms in the school participated in this study. There were two classrooms per grade level in prekin- dergarten through first grade and one classroom in second grade. In second grade, both the regular classroom teacher and the re- source teacher participated in the project. Therefore, 8 teachers in total participated in the study. All of the teachers were female. Seven of the teachers were White, and 1 was Black. Of these 8 teachers, 1 was a new teacher, 1 had been teaching for more than 30 years, and the rest had been teaching for 2–20 years. Half of the teachers had a master’s degree, and all of the teachers had a bachelor’s degree in education. Eighty-five children across the four grade levels participated in the study. Of these 85 children, 15 were in pre-kindergarten, 28 in kindergarten, 25 in first grade, and 17 in second grade. The average age of the children in the sample was 61⁄2 years, with a range of 41⁄2–81⁄2 years. A little over half of the sample was male. According to school records, 48% of the sample was Black, 20% was White, 20% was Asian, 7% was Hispanic, and 5% was classified as “other.” Also, 55% received free or reduced lunch, which was used in the study as a measure of socioeconomic status (SES). Information on children’s primary language was obtained from parent questionnaires. Parents were asked, “What is your child’s primary language?” The parents of 68% of the children responded that their children spoke English as their primary language. These children were considered non-ELLs in this study. The parents of 32% of the children responded that their children spoke a language besides English as their primary language. These children were considered ELLs in this study. Among the ELLs in this study, 33% were Black, 3% were White, 52% were Asian, and 11% were Hispanic. ELLs spoke a wide range of languages as their primary language including Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Spanish. Intervention There were two intervention conditions in this study: (a) non- multimedia and (b) multimedia. In both of these conditions, teach- ers implemented a scripted intervention lesson 45 min per day for 3 days a week over the course of 12 weeks. The length and duration of the intervention were held constant across conditions. The content of both conditions was habitats (i.e., rainforests, savannahs, coral reefs, and deserts) and incorporated both narra- tive and information texts. The focus on habitats was in alignment with the school district’s science standards. There were two main reasons that we chose to use science content in our intervention. 307MULTIMEDIA-ENHANCED VOCABULARY INSTRUCTION
  4. 4. First, given the vast number of reading and math standards that must be addressed on a given school day, teachers often argue that there is not enough time for vocabulary instruction. Many teachers also feel that there is not enough time for science. Integrating vocabulary and science in the intervention allowed teachers to address both of these important instructional components at the same time. Second, a focus on content area topics in the early grades is essential for building children’s background knowledge (Dreher, 2003; Duke, 2003). The intervention in each of the conditions was similar in many ways. In both conditions, the intervention consisted of four 3-week cycles, one cycle for each habitat. Children in both conditions heard the same books in the same order and were introduced to the same words in each of these books. Three books were read per cycle in both conditions. The researchers chose books on the basis of content, accessibility, and engagement. In other words, books were chosen to be (a) relevant to the habitats that we had chosen, (b) easy enough for children to comprehend but challenging enough for children to increase their knowledge, and (c) interesting enough to keep children’s attention. Eight words per book were chosen as target words. Additionally, four words essential to the overriding theme (i.e., discover, habitat, community, and explore) were addressed in a short introduction to the intervention and reinforced throughout the intervention. Therefore, 100 words were addressed in the 12-week intervention. The words were chosen on the basis of the approach used by Beck et al. (2002). Therefore, all words were Tier-2 words (i.e., words that are sophisticated and used often in literary or academic texts) that were important to the content of the books in which they appeared. For example, some of the words chosen for the rainforest habitat were creature, rare, depend, tropical, territory, and dangerous. The same books and words were used at all grade levels in the study. Teachers approved all books and words chosen for the curriculum to ensure they were appropriate for their students. Appendix A provides a list of books and target words for each unit. For the multimedia condition, we chose four videos, one per habitat, to use in the intervention. Because we wanted to use materials that would be easily accessible and because we could not find already-made videos to accompany each intervention book, the videos (i.e., DVDs) did not directly match the books in the intervention. Three of the DVDs used in the intervention were from the National Geographic Really Wild Animals series (Na- tional Geographic, 2005): Totally Tropical Rainforests, Deep Sea Dive, and Swinging Safari. We also used the desert segment of the Video Learning System DVD Habitats (FogWare, 2005). Because the videos were not aligned to the books, it was difficult to find short, cohesive clips that matched the specific words targeted in an individual book. For example, though we may have taught tropi- cal, dangerous, and territory through one book, these words may appear at the beginning, middle, or end of the video, making it difficult to show these words in the same, relatively short clip. On the other hand, while we may have taught predator, prey, and wild in three different books, these words might appear all in one short segment of video. Therefore, we chose to show clips from the video for each habitat after the 6 book-reading days to facilitate the review of all of the words taught across books. These clips were chosen to be intentionally short (i.e., about 5 min) to maintain children’s attention and to facilitate re-viewing of the clips. The conditions differed in the number of days that students heard each book and in whether or not they watched video pre- sentations related to the content of the books. In the nonmultimedia condition, teachers read each book on 3 days. They also imple- mented scripted curricula that accompanied the read-aloud books for their condition. In the multimedia condition, teachers read each book on 2 days. Then, for 3 days at the end of the cycle, teachers showed children different clips from a video that related to the habitat for that cycle. Teachers also implemented the scripted curricula that accompanied the read-aloud books and video clips for their condition. To understand the difference between the two conditions, con- sider the following. For the rainforest unit in the nonmultimedia condition, teachers read The Great Kapok Tree (Cherry, 1990) for 3 days in Week 1, Life in the Rainforest (Berger, 1996) for three days in Week 2, and Nature’s Green Umbrella (Gibbons, 1994) for 3 days in Week 3. In Week 4, teachers began the unit on savan- nahs. In the multimedia condition, teachers read The Great Kapok Tree (Cherry, 1990) for 2 days in Week 1. They read Life in the Rainforest (Berger, 1996) for the remaining day in Week 1 and the first day in Week 2, and they read Nature’s Green Umbrella (Gibbons, 1994) for the remaining 2 days in Week 2. In Week 3, teachers showed different clips from Totally Tropical Rainforests (National Geographic, 2005) over the course of 3 days. As in the nonmultimedia condition, in Week 4, teachers began the unit on savannahs. Teachers in both conditions taught the same scripted curriculum for the first two lessons for each book. In the first lesson, teachers introduced the book and four vocabulary words and then read the entire book straight through without stopping. After reading the book, they reviewed new vocabulary, asked children to say words and/or read the new words on word cards, and guided the children in playing word games such as “Finish My Sentence” (e.g., “A place where an animal lives and is in charge is its . . . territory”) and “Match That Word” (e.g., “Which goes with tropical: ice-cold or very warm?”). In the second lesson, teachers reintroduced the book, reviewed vocabulary words from the first lesson, and then introduced four new vocabulary words. Then, teachers read and stopped to review words taught in the first lesson as they were reading. After reading, teachers reviewed the four new vocabulary words, asked children to say words and/or read the new words on word cards, and guided children in playing word games such as “True or False” (e.g., “If an animal attacks another animal, it is trying to hurt it. True or False?”) and “Choose the Right Word” (e.g., “Is a beautiful butterfly dangerous or bright?”). The third lesson of the curricula for each book was implemented only in the nonmultimedia condition. In the third lesson, teachers reintroduced the book for a final time and reviewed vocabulary words from Lessons 1 and 2. Then, teachers read the book and stopped to review the vocabulary words. After reading, teachers asked children to give examples of words in other contexts and had children answer questions about the words (e.g., “What would you wear if you were in a tropical rainforest?”). Instead of the third lesson for each book, teachers in the mul- timedia condition taught three lessons using three different video clips (one per day) at the culmination of the focus on a given habitat. For each of the video lessons, teachers initially reviewed the target words that would be illustrated in the 5-min clip to be shown that day. Then, children viewed the video clip without 308 SILVERMAN AND HINES
  5. 5. interruption. Next, teachers ran the video clip again, stopping at designated places to emphasize target words. After showing the video clip, teachers had children answer questions about the words and give examples of words in other contexts. Assignment to Condition For assignment to condition, teachers were paired across grades (e.g., the 2 first grade teachers were paired together). One teacher was randomly assigned to the nonmultimedia condition, and the other was assigned to the multimedia condition. Then, across pairs of teachers, children were randomly assigned to the nonmultimedia or the multimedia condition. For instance, of the 25 children in first grade, 13 were randomly assigned to the nonmultimedia condition, and 12 were randomly assigned to the multimedia condition. Therefore, due to random assignment to condition, some children received intervention from their regular homeroom teacher, and some received intervention from the other teacher at their grade level. Random assignment within grades rather than across the entire sample was necessary to limit disruption of the students’ schedules. (Note that since there was only one classroom at the second-grade level, the regular classroom teacher and the resource teacher were randomly assigned to condition, and half of the class was randomly assigned to each condition.) Teacher Training and Fidelity of Treatment Teachers were trained on implementing the scripted curriculum during a 1-day in-school session with the researchers. Then, 3 weeks into the intervention, the researchers observed in each classroom to assess and provide feedback on implementation. Finally, to document teacher fidelity to the intervention, a research assistant (RA) unaware of the study design completed fidelity checklists at two randomly selected times for each teacher. The checklists included items such as the following: (a) the teacher introduced the words; (b) the teacher defined words as stated in the curriculum; and (c) the teacher asked children to provide examples of each word. Average fidelity was 94%. Assessments Both prior to and following the intervention, children were assessed on knowledge of words targeted in the intervention, general vocabulary knowledge, and knowledge of science concepts taught in the intervention. Knowledge of target words. A researcher-designed measure was used to assess children’s knowledge of words targeted in the intervention. The target vocabulary assessment (TVA) was based on the measure used in Beck and McKeown (2007). For each target word, children were asked four yes-or-no questions. For example, for the word habitat, children were asked the following questions: (a) “Does habitat mean a place where an animal lives?” (b) “Does habitat mean food that an animal eats?” (c) “Is a rainforest a habitat?” and (d) “Is an elephant a habitat?” If children answered at least three of the four questions correctly, they re- ceived a point for the target word. The assessment contained a random sample of 60 of the 100 words targeted in the intervention. The assessment was administered over two testing periods so that children were not overwhelmed by the number of questions. Va- lidity of this assessment derives from the fact that it is matched to the content of the intervention, it contains questions similar to questions teachers asked in the intervention, and it is modeled on an assessment used in prior research in the field. The reliability of the assessment will be discussed later in the Results section. General vocabulary knowledge. The Peabody Picture Vocab- ulary Test–Third Edition (PPVT–III; Dunn & Dunn, 1997) was used to assess children’s general vocabulary knowledge. This is a commonly used norm-referenced measure of receptive vocabulary in which children choose one of four pictures that corresponds to the target word given orally by the test administrator. Science concepts knowledge. Children’s knowledge of science concepts taught in the intervention was assessed via a researcher- designed science assessment (SCI). In this assessment, children were given two open-ended queries per habitat. For example, for the rainforest habitat, children were asked the following: (a) “What is a rainforest like? Tell me what you know about rainforests.” (b) “What kinds of plants and animals live in the rainforest? Tell me about them.” RAs scored this assessment by giving 1 point for every independent, correct statement about the habitat. For exam- ple, for the two queries previously described, 1 child responded to the first query by saying, “It has a lot of trees, and it has layers.” He responded to the second query by saying, “Wild plants and tree frogs.” RAs gave the child 2 points for the answer to the first query and 2 points for the answer to the second. Each child’s assessment was scored separately by two RAs whose interrater reliability was 86%. The validity of this assessment derives from the fact that it contains content addressed in the intervention and includes ques- tions similar to those asked in the intervention. Reliability of this assessment will be discussed in the Results section. Analyses After examining descriptive statistics and conducting prelimi- nary analyses to compare the treatment and control groups and to assess the reliability of the researcher-developed measures, we used analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to answer the research questions. To answer the first research question related to the effects of the conditions (i.e., nonmultimedia vs. multimedia), we executed three separate analyses. Each analysis corresponded to a different outcome variable: (a) posttest TVA, (b) posttest PPVT, and (c) posttest SCI. Raw scores rather than standard scores were used in analysis of the PPVT because standard scores are resistant to incremental change over a short period of time. In each analysis, we controlled for pretest scores and included language background (i.e., ELL vs. non-ELL) and SES (i.e., free/reduced lunch vs. non-free/reduced lunch) as covariates. We also tested teacher, grade level, and gender effects in separate ANCOVA models with posttest as the outcome and pretest as a covariate. We found no teacher effects on the PPVT and TVA and no grade level or gender effects on any of the outcome variables. We found teacher effects on the SCI measure. However, since there were no group (i.e., multimedia vs. nonmultimedia) effects on this measure and since including teacher in the model (a) does not change the results and (b) causes the group coefficient to become nonestimable due to the collinearity of teacher and group, we did not report models with teacher as a covariate. To answer the second research question—whether the effects of condition depend on children’s language background—we inves- 309MULTIMEDIA-ENHANCED VOCABULARY INSTRUCTION
  6. 6. tigated interactions between language background and condition. Interactions between SES and condition were also explored in separate models. There were no interactions between SES and condition. Therefore, SES by condition interactions were not in- cluded in final models. However, it is important to note that free and reduced lunch status, used here as the measure of SES, may not be an adequately sensitive indicator of socioeconomic status. Therefore, in the future, the differential effects of various types of vocabulary instruction should be explored using alternative mea- sures of SES. For each analysis, we calculated effect sizes (Cohen’s d) by dividing the difference between adjusted means by the root mean square error of the outcome variable under consid- eration (Cohen, 1988; Rosnow & Rosenthal, 1996). Results Descriptive Statistics Tables 1 and 2 present descriptive statistics of demographic and assessment variables for the entire sample for the nonmultimedia and multimedia groups and for non-ELLs and ELLs. Both pretest and posttest TVA and PPVT scores were normally distributed. Posttest SCI scores were also normally distributed, but pretest SCI scores were positively skewed. Though raw scores for the PPVT were used in the analysis presented here, standard scores also are provided in Table 2. Before the intervention began, the average standard PPVT score was 82.70 with a standard deviation of 17.21 for the ELLs and 97.10 with a standard deviation of 14.50 for the non-ELLs. Preliminary Analyses To investigate whether there were differences between the con- ditions at the beginning of the study, we conducted one-way ANOVAs and chi-square tests. The ANOVAs showed that there was no difference between conditions on pretest TVA, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.10, p ϭ .756; PPVT, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.60, p ϭ .440; or SCI, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.52, p ϭ .471. Furthermore, the chi-square tests revealed that there was no difference between conditions on language background, ␹2 (1, 85) ϭ 0.09, p ϭ .759, or SES, ␹2 (1, 85) ϭ 1.47, p ϭ .226. Therefore, we determined that the groups were comparable on assessment variables and demographic character- istics. To determine the reliability of the TVA, we investigated corre- lations and internal consistency. The correlation between the pre- test PPVT and the pretest TVA was .78, and the correlation between the posttest PPVT and the posttest TVA was .79. The internal consistency of the pretest TVA as determined by Cron- bach’s alpha was .91, and the internal consistency of the posttest TVA was .92. On the basis of this data, we concluded that the TVA is a reliable assessment of children’s target vocabulary knowledge. The internal consistency of the pre- and posttest SCI was .67 and .73, respectively. This data suggest that the SCI assessment has acceptable internal consistency. As will be discussed later, further investigation of the reliability of the SCI assessment is needed in future research. Knowledge of Target Words The unadjusted means for the TVA in Table 2 show that non-ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained the same number of points (about 10) from pretest to posttest as non-ELLs in the multimedia condition, on average. However, ELLs in the multi- media condition gained about 17 points, whereas ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained only about 11 points from pretest to posttest. Results from ANCOVA revealed that for the post-test TVA, there were main effects of pretest TVA, F(1, 84) ϭ 133.48, p Ͻ .001, and condition, F(1, 84) ϭ 4.34, p ϭ .041. There were no main effects of SES, F(1, 84) ϭ .12, p ϭ .733, or language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 3.10, p ϭ .082, but there was an interac- tion between condition and language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 4.42, p ϭ .039. Adjusted posttest means for non-ELLs were 42.2 in the nonmultimedia condition and 42.1 in the multimedia condition. For ELLs, adjusted posttest scores were 41.8 and 48.4 in the nonmultimedia and multimedia conditions, respectively. Contrasts based on adjusted means revealed that while there was no effect of condition for non-ELLs (p ϭ .981), there was an effect of condi- tion for ELLs (p ϭ .013). The effect size of the multimedia condition over the nonmultimedia condition for ELLs was .97. General Vocabulary Knowledge There were similar results on the PPVT. The unadjusted means for the PPVT in Table 2 show that non-ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained about 11 points from pretest to posttest while non-ELLs in the multimedia condition gained about 9 points. In contrast, ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained about 11 points, while ELLs in the multimedia condition gained about 23 points. Results of ANCOVA showed that for the posttest PPVT, there was a main effect of pretest PPVT, F(1, 84) ϭ 160.33, p Ͻ .001, and SES, F(1, 84) ϭ 7.64, p ϭ .007. There were no main effects for condition, F(1, 84) ϭ 3.45, p ϭ .067, or language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.78, p ϭ .381. However, there was an Table 1 Demographic Characteristics of the Children in the Sample Variable Percentage of sample (N ϭ 85) Total sample Nonmultimedia group Multimedia group Grade Pre-kindergarten 17.7 9.4 8.2 Kindergarten 32.9 14.1 18.8 First grade 29.4 15.3 14.1 Second grade 20.0 11.8 8.2 Gender Male 56.5 29.4 27.1 Female 43.5 21.2 22.4 Race White 20.0 11.8 8.2 Black 48.2 25.9 22.4 Asian 20.0 10.6 9.4 Hispanic 7.1 2.4 4.7 Other 4.7 0 4.7 Socioeconomic status Free/reduced lunch 55.3 24.7 30.6 Non-free/reduced lunch 44.7 25.9 18.8 Child’s primary language English (non-ELL) 68.2 35.3 32.9 Not English (ELL) 31.8 15.3 16.5 310 SILVERMAN AND HINES
  7. 7. interaction between condition and language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 5.43, p ϭ .022. Adjusted means for non-ELLs in the nonmultimedia and multimedia conditions were 90.3 and 89.0, respectively. For ELLs, adjusted means were 86.6 for the nonmul- timedia and 97.8 for the multimedia condition. Contrasts showed that there was an effect of condition for ELL children (p ϭ .013) but not for non-ELL children (p ϭ .675). The effect size of the multimedia condition over the nonmultimedia condition for ELLs was .99. Knowledge of Science Content As shown by the unadjusted means for the SCI assessment in Table 2, non-ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained about 7 points from pretest to posttest, and non-ELLs in the multimedia condition gained about 7.5 points. ELLs in the nonmultimedia condition gained about 6 points, while ELLs in the multimedia condition gained about 9 points. The only effects found in ANCOVA were for pretest SCI, F(1, 84) ϭ 21.81, p Ͻ .001. There were no effects for condition, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.69, p ϭ .408; SES, F(1, 84) ϭ 1.65, p ϭ .202; or language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.00, p ϭ .989, on posttest SCI, and there was no interaction between condition and language background, F(1, 84) ϭ 0.12, p ϭ .725. Adjusted means for non-ELLs were 14.5 and 15.2 for the nonmultimedia and multimedia conditions, respec- tively. For ELLs, the adjusted means were 13.9 for the nonmulti- media condition and 15.8 for the multimedia condition. None of the contrasts for differences in adjusted means between conditions and across groups was significant. This suggests that all children across conditions and groups gained on the SCI assessment at about the same rate. Discussion Vocabulary instruction through read alouds is the most thor- oughly researched and widely used method for teaching words to young children (NICHD, 2000; Snow et al., 1998). However, some previous research suggests that augmenting read alouds with mul- timedia may increase the effectiveness of vocabulary instruction, especially for children with limited word knowledge (Verhallen et al., 2006). In this study, we investigated the effects of a research- based, read-aloud vocabulary intervention that was enhanced with multimedia support for vocabulary learning. We compared the multimedia-enhanced intervention with a parallel intervention that did not include the multimedia enhancements. We also investi- gated whether there was a differential effect of the multimedia enhanced intervention for non-ELL and ELL children. The results indicate that while there was no effect of the use of multimedia for non-ELL children, there was an effect for ELL children, both on a researcher-designed measure and on a general measure of vocabulary knowledge used in this study. Furthermore, for children who experienced the multimedia-enhanced vocabulary intervention, the gap between non-ELL and ELL children in knowledge of words targeted during the intervention was closed, and the gap in general vocabulary knowledge was narrowed. This is an important finding given the vocabulary needs of children for whom English is a second language (August, Carlo, Dressler, & Snow, 2005; Carlo et al., 2004; Jime´nez, 1994; Snow et al., 1998). Moreover, the use of multimedia support in lieu of traditional reinforcement did not negatively impact the achievement of the non-ELL children in terms of vocabulary or science content learn- ing. Therefore, the multimedia-enhanced intervention was as ef- fective as the intervention that did not include multimedia en- Table 2 Unadjusted Means and Standard Deviations for the Pretest and Posttest Scores Measure Assessment scores Total sample Nonmultimedia group Multimedia group Pretest Posttest Pretest Posttest Pretest Posttest M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD TVA Total sample 31.9 11.0 42.1 11.3 31.5 11.5 41.7 12.2 32.3 10.6 44.5 10.2 Non-ELL 34.2 10.9 44.0 10.7 34.2 11.1 44.1 11.3 34.1 10.8 43.9 10.3 ELL 27.0 9.9 41.1 12.4 25.4 10.6 36.3 12.9 28.5 9.4 45.6 10.4 PPVT Raw scores Total sample 78.0 23.3 90.2 21.3 79.9 25.0 90.7 24.2 76.0 21.4 89.6 18.1 Non-ELL 84.7 20.7 94.7 19.7 86.3 21.6 97.2 21.8 82.9 19.9 91.9 17.1 ELL 63.7 22.3 80.5 21.6 65.2 27.1 75.7 23.4 62.2 17.8 84.9 19.6 Standard scores Total sample 92.5 16.7 98.0 15.5 93.8 17.7 98.9 16.4 91.2 15.8 97.1 14.6 Non-ELL 97.1 14.5 101.3 15.0 97.9 14.7 102.9 16.0 96.3 14.5 99.71 14.1 ELL 82.7 17.2 90.9 14.2 84.4 20.7 89.8 14.0 81.1 13.8 92.0 14.9 SCI Total sample 7.5 6.1 14.7 7.8 8.1 6.3 14.7 8.2 6.9 5.8 14.8 7.4 Non-ELL 8.1 6.0 15.2 7.8 8.5 5.9 15.3 8.1 7.6 6.1 15.1 7.8 ELL 6.3 6.1 13.8 7.6 7.1 7.2 13.2 8.7 5.6 5.1 14.4 6.8 Note. Both raw and standard scores are reported for the PPVT though only raw scores were used in analysis. TVA ϭ researcher target vocabulary assessment; PPVT ϭ Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test; SCI ϭ researcher science assessment; non-ELL ϭ non-English-language learner; ELL ϭ English-language learner. 311MULTIMEDIA-ENHANCED VOCABULARY INSTRUCTION
  8. 8. hancements for non-ELLs, and it was more effective for promoting the vocabulary knowledge of ELLs. The findings in this study are aligned with some previous research on the use of multimedia enhancements with ELL chil- dren (Verhallen et al., 2006). It may be that, in accordance with Paivio’s (1986) dual-coding theory, presenting information about words to children through two channels, one verbal and one nonverbal, supports their learning of words. Such dual presentation may be especially important for ELLs who have less well- established English-language vocabularies with which to process verbal information in English. As Nagy and Scott (2000) suggest, word learning is multidimensional and consists of different types of knowledge. It may be that for ELL children who have a difficult time understanding the verbal definitions of words, representing words in more than one way may supplement and clarify the instructional dialogue and provide children with the additional information they need to make sense of the words they are learn- ing. Therefore, the addition of dynamic visuals and sounds in the video to the verbal definitions and the static pictures in the context of the read-aloud books may provide ELL children with multiple means to acquire word knowledge and allow them to use infor- mation from both the read-aloud and the multimedia presentation to support their vocabulary development. Non-ELLs may not have responded differentially to the read-aloud interventions with and without the multimedia because their verbal abilities are well developed enough to allow them to take advantage of verbal information without the support of nonverbal cues. Given that ELL children in the multimedia-enhanced interven- tion group showed accelerated growth not only in knowledge of target words but also in general vocabulary knowledge as mea- sured by the PPVT, it may also be that when immersed in a language-rich intervention that was supported by a multimedia enhancement, the ELL children were able to attune to and inter- nalize the meanings of many more words than just those specifi- cally taught. As Neuman (1997) suggested in her theory of syn- ergy, exposing children to multiple media may foster additional interpretive tools that can enhance their meaning-making abilities. Implications As discussed previously, vocabulary knowledge correlates closely with reading comprehension and is crucial for school success (NICHD, 2000; Snow et al., 1998). English-language learners who lag behind their native English-speaking peers in breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge are at risk for expe- riencing difficulty in reading throughout their school years (August & Shanahan, 2006). Intervention that speeds up the vo- cabulary growth of ELLs is needed so that they can catch up to their peers and keep up with instruction in school (August et al., 2005). Increasingly, ELLs are being educated in English-only classrooms alongside their English-speaking peers. Therefore, in- tervention must be poised to affect this acceleration while meeting the needs of all children in the class. The multimedia intervention described here was able to accelerate the vocabulary learning of ELL students such that the gap between non-ELL and ELL stu- dents narrowed by the end of the intervention. At the same time, the multimedia did not hinder the vocabulary learning of non- ELLs, who learned words at the same rate as their peers who were not in the multimedia intervention. Therefore, multimedia en- hancement may be an appropriate way to augment vocabulary instruction to meet the needs of ELLs in inclusive settings, as well as in ELL classrooms. However, it is important to note that in previous research on the effects of multimedia, there was no effect on vocabulary when there was no additional instructional support (Linebarger, 2004; Uchikoshi, 2006). In the multimedia-enhanced intervention in this study, teachers guided children to notice words in the video and scaffolded children’s word learning by discussing words in the context of the video. It is likely that just showing the video to the children instead of using the video as part of a multifaceted vocabulary intervention would not have been as effective. Future research should explore this possibility further, but in the mean- time, teachers should consider the use of multimedia to enhance, not supplant, comprehensive vocabulary instruction in the class- room. Limitations This study was conducted in a limited number of classrooms and for a short duration. Also, the assessments used to measure student learning were not ideal for this study. Specifically, the researcher vocabulary assessment relied heavily on language in that it asked children to respond “yes” or “no” to whether a word was used correctly in a series of four sentences. Given that many young children, particularly those with limited vocabulary, may have difficulty with tasks that are wholly linguistic, we may have underestimated students’ learning by using a purely linguistic task. A task involving pictures, similar to the PPVT, should be used in future studies assessing the effect of multimedia on vocabulary learning. Similarly, the science assessment that we used in the study was linguistic in nature. The assessment required children to respond to open-ended questions about the habitats they were studying in the intervention. This assessment and the coding scheme we created to measure students’ content knowledge may have better captured students’ learning if it had incorporated pictures and multiple-choice questions. Future research on the effect of multimedia on vocabulary learning should employ alter- native means of assessment. Future Directions Further research on the effect of multimedia on vocabulary instruction should proceed in a few directions. First, research on the effect of multimedia should be implemented on a larger scale so that researchers can consider teacher and grade-level effects. Second, research should be conducted on how teachers might incorporate the use of multimedia to enhance vocabulary instruc- tion without the intensive support provided by the researchers in the intervention described here. For instance, if teachers chose their own books, words, and video clips, what would be the effect of the intervention? Third, since the multimedia-enhanced inter- vention was particularly effective for ELL children, would it be equally effective for other groups of children with limited vocab- ulary knowledge (e.g., children with language-based learning dis- abilities or children living in poverty)? Additional questions to explore in future research that are spe- cific to the intervention described in this study include the follow- ing: (a) Would showing the video before the book reading, in order 312 SILVERMAN AND HINES
  9. 9. to build background knowledge on the content in question, be more effective than showing the video after the book reading? (b) Would embedding video clips throughout the book-reading portion of the intervention rather than showing the video on a separate day be more effective? Conclusions Teachers of young children must be prepared to use research- based methods to build the vocabulary knowledge of all children so that they can comprehend text later in school. Also, they must be ready to implement innovative intervention strategies to accel- erate the vocabulary growth of ELL children so that they can catch up to their peers. Augmenting well-established methods of vocab- ulary instruction through read-alouds with multimedia enhance- ments for ELLs may be one way that educators can meet both of these goals. References Arnold, C. (1997). African animals. New York: Harper Collins. August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C., & Snow, C. (2005). 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  10. 10. “Sesame Street”: Learning vocabulary while viewing. Developmental Psychology, 26, 421–428. Rice, M. L., & Woodsmall, L. (1988). Lessons from television: Children’s word learning when viewing. Child Development, 59, 420–428. Robbins, C., & Ehri, L. (1994). Reading storybooks to kindergartners helps them learn new vocabulary words. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 54–64. Roberts, T., & Neal, H. (2004). Relationships among preschool English language learners’ oral proficiency in English, instructional experience and literacy development. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29, 283–311. Rosnow, R., & Rosenthal, R. (1996). Beginning behavioral research: A conceptual primer (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Silverman, R. (2007a). A comparison of three methods of vocabulary instruction during read-alouds in kindergarten. Elementary School Jour- nal, 108, 97–113. Silverman, R. (2007b). Vocabulary development of English-language and English-only learners in kindergarten. Elementary School Journal, 107, 365–383. Snow, C., Burns, S., & Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Research Council. Steiner, B. A. (1996). Desert trip. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books for Children. Uchikoshi, Y. (2006). English vocabulary development in bilingual kin- dergarteners: What are the best predictors? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9, 33–49. Ufer, D. A. (2006). The giraffe who was afraid of heights. Mount Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell Publishing. Verhallen, M. J. A. J., Bus, A. G., & de Jong, M. T. (2006). The promise of multimedia stories for kindergarten children at risk. Journal of Edu- cational Psychology, 98, 410–429. Wasik, B., Bond, M., & Hindman, A. (2006). The effects of a language and literacy intervention on Head Start children and teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 63–74. Whitehurst, G. J., Arnold, D. S., Epstein, J. N., Angell, A. L., Smith, M., & Fischel, J. E. (1994). A picture book reading intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families. Developmental Psy- chology, 30, 697–699. Appendix A Books and Words Used in the Intervention Unit/book Vocabulary words Introduction/no book discover, habitat, community, explore Rainforests The Great Kapok Tree (Cherry, 1990) chop, produce, creature, rare, depend, destroy, disappear, ruin Life in the Rain Forest (Berger, 1993) territory, bright, tropical, vast, layer, dangerous, attack, native Nature’s Green Umbrella (Gibbons, 1994) thick, thrive, steamy, climate, flourish, canopy, shady, humid Savannahs The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights (Ufer, 2006) predator, problem, afraid, path, appetite, approach, charge, defend Life on the African Savannah (Berger, 1995) covered, browse, scatter, herd, prey, scavenger, graze, migrate African Animals (Arnold, 1997) variety, wild, huge, enormous, height, weight, roam, endangered Coral reefs Octavia and Her Purple Ink Cloud (Rathmell & Rathmell, 2006) escape, sting, practice, camouflage, cozy, empty, dart, marine Life in a Coral Reef (Berger, 1994) shallow, threaten, stony, force, dwell, flow, survive, deep Coral Reef (Davis, 1997) surface, provides, bottom, shelter, odd, fierce, warning, protect Deserts Desert Trip (Steiner, 1996) struggle, hike, trail, slick, arid, spiny, distant, steep Life in the Desert (Berger, 1996) unusual, moisture, harsh, receive, useful, expand, active, surroundings Deserts (Gibbons, 1996) appearance, oasis, formed, adapt, communicate, nomads, visible, tribes Received February 6, 2008 Revision received June 16, 2008 Accepted August 8, 2008 Ⅲ 314 SILVERMAN AND HINES