Vocabulary learning in Head Start: Nature and extent of classroom instruction and its contributions to children's learning.J Sch Psychol. 2013 Jun; 51(3):387-405.JS
In the current study, we employed the 2006 cohort of the large-scale, nationally representative, Head Start Family and Child Experiences (FACES) dataset to construct a snapshot of vocabulary instruction and learning in high-poverty preschools. Specifically, we examined Head Start teachers' reports of the frequency of vocabulary instruction in their classrooms as well as the overall quality of their classroom instruction. We also explored the teacher- and center-level factors that predicted these dual aspects of instruction, and the role of that instruction in children's vocabulary development over the preschool year. Participants included 293 teachers in 116 Head Start centers, as well as 2501 children in their classrooms. Results showed that, whereas there was notable variation, most teachers reported providing a variety of vocabulary-focused instructional activities nearly every day. The quality of their classroom instruction was generally modest. Classroom instructional quality was predictive of children's vocabulary learning, with stronger relations apparent for children with lower initial skills and for classrooms with higher quality instruction. The frequency of instruction in vocabulary was not related to children's word learning. Results provide new descriptive data about the state of vocabulary instruction in Head Start preschools and highlight both areas of success and opportunities for additional support.