Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




JoeAnn Hinrichs


Teachers know that many nonnative English language learners (ELLs) have problems with successful negotiation of academic English vocabulary. The purpose of this study, working from a behavioralist perspective as espoused by Thorndike, Skinner, and Bandura, was to determine if a vocabulary program influenced word acquisition in first grade ELLs. The research questions focused on the degree to which the program affected the learner's vocabulary and helped to alleviate word poverty from among the 34 participants in the study. In this quantitative pretest -- posttest design, ELL students were exposed to 9 weeks of intense instruction. The vocabulary acquisition of ELL students in first grade at a K-5 elementary school was measured. Data were assessed statistically using paired samples t-tests. Results indicated a statistically significant improvement in ELL vocabulary. Implications for social change include providing information that can assist teachers and school districts in selecting effective vocabulary strategies for those at risk for low school performance.