Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Rattan

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine kindergarten student performance on a story retell task across at-risk and typically achieving groups (Intervention, Control, Reference) and language status (English-only, English-language learners). Additionally, the current study examined the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and the quality of production on a Story Retell task. Kindergarten students (n = 540) from twenty-two schools across Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Oregon completed a vocabulary program approximately 20 weeks in duration, including an additional vocabulary intervention for students in the Intervention group. Each student was assessed on vocabulary knowledge measures before and after completion of the vocabulary program, using both standardized and experimenter-developed formats: PPVT-4, Receptive Target Word, and Expressive Target Word. In addition, a Story Retell measure was completed with all students at the end of the school year. Results showed that language status had no impact when considering Story Retell performance across different groups of students within the course of an academic program. The students in the Intervention group performed better on the Story Retell task than the students in the Control group and the students in the Reference group performed better than both Intervention and Control groups. Further, the current study demonstrated that all vocabulary measures were positively correlated with the Story Retell comprehension measure and that PPVT-4 growth accounted for more unique variance in Story Retell performance than initial PPVT-4 scores. It was also established that student performance on the Expressive Target Word measure was the best predictor of the quality of Story Retell.

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