The Effects of a Peer Teaching Approach on Urban Community College Students’ Vocabulary Development Using Vocabulary Theatre

Elizabeth Robb, Megan Dunphy Gregoire, Naomi Landau


The purpose of this study was to replicate the first author’s previous study with more diverse participants including ethnic minority students to investigate the effects of a peer teaching approach on students’ vocabulary development using a treatment entitled Vocabulary Theatre (VT). Literacy professors at an urban community college in the Northeast conducted vocabulary research with their students in their respective classes. A mixed methods quasi - experimental study was conducted to compare the mean gains scores of two different types of vocabulary acquisition. Students in the VT condition were instructed to take ownership of their expressive vocabulary by teaching their assigned target words to peers in a small group. The group was then responsible to create a short skit (vignette) that used all of their assigned words appropriately, and to perform it for the class. This gave students multiple repeated exposures to the target words. This differed from the Teacher Directed Instruction (TDI) in which the students were asked to simply look up definitions of the entire list of target words. Students were given a pre- and posttest to examine their level of vocabulary acquisition in each condition. A gain score was computed subtracting the pretest results from the posttest results. Also, qualitative data was collected in the form of individual interviews, classroom observations, and small group discussions in the classroom. Analysis of qualitative data showed higher levels of motivation and engagement as reported in student interviews. Though limited by a small sample size, quantitative results showed an improvement in scores of post tests regardless of the instruction method.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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