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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the relationship between children’s key vocabulary responses and certain Piagetian concepts Blakey, Janis Marie


Sylvia Ashton-Warner's (1963, 1972) reading instruction strategies and Jean Piaget's (1955, 1966, 1974, 1976) theory of cognition have attracted the attention of many educators, but their works have seldom been considered under the same rubric (Veatch, 1972; Wadsworth, 1978). Ashton-Warner's recent claim that there exist emergent, sequential levels in Key Vocabulary responses (Wasserman, 1972, 1976b) suggested that the Key Vocabulary method of instruction could be examined from a developmental perspective using selected Piagetian concepts. The study was designed to explore and describe levels of Key Vocabulary response and to examine the relationship between levels of response and cognition. Stages of preoperational, transitional, and concrete thought were determined using the Piagetian measures of simple classification, simple seriation, conservation of number, and class inclusion. A gamma coefficient was used to analyze the nature of the relationship between levels of Key Vocabulary response and stages of cognitive development. Teachers in nine kindergarten programs were trained to elicit Key Vocabulary responses from a sample of 120 children. The teachers elicited responses from the children during a six week period in the Spring of the year. During the same six week period the researcher and a trained assistant administered the Piagetian measures. Individual profiles were developed indicating the child's responses to the Key Vocabulary elicitation. Each response was dated and notations were made by the teacher regarding the child's comments about the response. Based on the recent claims of Ashton-Warner (Wasserman 1972, 1970) and Veatch (1973, 1976), the responses were categorized according to levels of response. A significant gamma coefficient (p<.01) indicated that the lower level responses were associated with preoperational and transitional thought processes while higher levels were characteristic of children who were transitional or concrete in their thinking. The study further indicated that the young child does not always conceive of the concept of "a word" from an adult perspective. More than one level of response often appeared on individual response profiles. In addition, finer distinctions could be made in terms of levels of response. Because of these observations, a post hoc analysis was conducted to take a closer look at the nature of the responses. The profiles were re-scored using an alternative system which took into account these variations. The analysis revealed that there were 15 patterns of responding to the Key Vocabulary elicitions. The relationship between levels of Key Vocabulary response and stages of cognitive development suggests that further research related to the Key Vocabulary strategy can be based on a developmental construct. The identification of differing patterns of response indicates that there is a need for such research. The present study considered only the oral forms of response. Future examinations of the Key Vocabulary method should include written forms of response.

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