Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Lucille Lang

Abstract

Elementary students from low socioeconomic households often begin and remain behind other socioeconomic groups in vocabulary knowledge. Many reasons for this gap, including cognitive, environmental, and educational, have been researched. The current study examined the relationship between vocabulary knowledge, socioeconomic status, and type of teacher discourse within an early elementary setting not yet explored within the research. This concurrent mixed-method research study investigated this relationship using study groups, taped classroom lessons, and the DIBELS word use fluency assessment measure. Interpretative analysis was used for the qualitative data, and correlational analysis was used to determine relationships between the discourse types and the DIBELS word use fluency growth scores. The quantitative results suggested that as two-way teacher-student conversation increased, vocabulary knowledge in students from low socioeconomic households also increased. The qualitative results indicated that lesson reflection alters teachers' perceptions of discourse beliefs. The findings of this study initiate social change by assuring quality professional development methods so that all teachers use effective communication along with best practices. These improved techniques may result in every child gaining an equal opportunity to learn how to read successfully and may assist in closing the socioeconomic achievement gap.