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Title page for ETD etd-03282008-104911

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Watson, Betsy G.
Author's Email Address mary.e.watson@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03282008-104911
Title Preschool Book Reading: Teacher, Child, and Text Contributions to Vocabulary Growth
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dale Farran, PhD Committee Chair
David Dickinson, PhD Committee Member
Deborah W. Rowe, PhD Committee Member
Mark Lipsey, PhD Committee Member
  • book reading
  • vocabulary
  • preschool
Date of Defense 2008-03-21
Availability unrestricted




Dissertation under the direction of Professor Dale Farran

Vocabulary is one area of language growth that receives attention in many preschool programs. Teachers read books to children in whole group settings and use that context to provide support for word meaning through their reading of and talk about the text. Growing attention is given in preschool literacy curricula, guidance from teacher practitioner journals, and professional development about how vocabulary should be supported during book reading. This project involved examining the influence of teacher, child, and text contributions to vocabulary learning during whole group book reading of fiction and nonfiction texts.

Using videotapes of seven teachers reading four fiction and four nonfiction texts, ratings of child involvement during whole group book reading, and teacher interview and book reading frequency data, this study sought to answer three main questions. The first question related to examining how the naturally occurring variation in the rate of teachers’ vocabulary facilitation during book reading is linked to growth in children’s vocabulary outcomes. The second question focused on the influence of children’s involvement during book reading on vocabulary growth. The final question involved the effect of genre on the rate of teachers’ vocabulary facilitation during book reading. Book-specific and distal standardized vocabulary measures were used as outcomes.

Results indicated that relatively higher rates of teachers’ vocabulary talk during whole group book reading negatively influenced children’s distal word learning gains and had no effect on target learning gains. Also, results were negative for the influence of child involvement on word learning. The effect of genre was that teachers used a higher rate of vocabulary talk during nonfiction reading, but frequency of nonfiction reading was not related to word learning gains. The results of this study raise concerns about teachers’ unintentional overuse of vocabulary talk, about how level of experience and perception of strategies influence teachers’ behaviors during reading, and about the appropriate purposes of whole group book reading to support children’s word learning in preschool.

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