The Effects of Pre-Teaching Vocabulary on Vocabulary Usage, Comprehension, and Academic Achievement in a Secondary Social Studies Classroom

Maria Rives


Research has shown that students of all ages struggle with reading across the content areas (Treiman, Clifton, Meyer, & Wurm, 2003; NCES, 2015) and in Social Studies particularly (TEA, 2017; NCES, 2011).  Low reading levels can adversely impact a student’s ability to participate in class, understand content, apply skills, and demonstrate mastery on an assessment.  One proposed reason for this struggle is an underdeveloped content and academic vocabulary.  Several instructional strategies exist for teaching vocabulary to students, but very few studies have examined the impact of pre-teaching vocabulary on academic achievement.  This research proposal investigates the role of a pre-teaching vocabulary strategy to increase student vocabulary usage, vocabulary comprehension, and academic achievement in a high school Social Studies classroom.  It is hypothesized that pre-teaching both content and academic vocabulary at the beginning of a unit will result in increased vocabulary usage and comprehension on the part of the students, as well as increased standardized test scores at the end of the year.  The pre-teaching strategy is detailed in the research proposal and could practically be used by secondary teachers in all content areas.  Additionally, pre-teaching vocabulary could build confidence and competence in students, resulting in higher levels of student motivation in a Social Studies classroom. 

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