Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Sonya Bahar


Kathleen Sullivan-Brown

Helene Sherman

Vanessa Garry


Using a quantitative method of data collection, this research explored the question: Do active learning strategies used in grades 5 and 6 affect student vocabulary achievement in a positive or negative direction? In their research, Wolfe (2001), Headley, et al., (1995), Freiberg, et al., (1992), and Brunner (2009) emphasize the importance of understanding how children learn through active learning processes such as hands-on opportunities, cooperative learning, and technology-based instruction. Other researchers such as Baker, et al., (2000), Nagy, et al., (1987) and Searfoss, et al., (2001) stress the importance of meaningful vocabulary instruction when teaching reading. This study supports their findings, indicating that incorporating certain active learning strategies into vocabulary instruction leads to increased student achievement. For this study, two surveys were used. A population of thirty seven (37) fifth and sixth grade teachers was asked to complete both surveys, with a return rate of 57%. Results from the teacher surveys were compared to assessment results from the 888 students in grades 5th and 6th, looking for correlations and predictability within the sample. The student assessments are administered three times each academic year as part of the School District’s local assessment process and were not solely administered for the purpose of this study. To answer the research question, the Survey of Instructional Practices and the Survey of Instructional Content questionnaire were reviewed and questions that appeared to be better indicators of active learning processes were selected and tested for correlations in student achievement. The results of the current study indicate that certain types of active learning tasks are beneficial to the performance of fifth grade students on ELAR testing. The three tasks are 1) independent reading from selecting material of their own choice 2) working on projects such as shows, plays, or dioramas and 3) researching and collecting information.

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