Interactive, Conceptual Word Walls: Transforming Content Vocabulary Instruction one Word at a Time

Julie K. Jackson


Research shows a strong relationship between student word knowledge and academic achievement. This research study explores the use of interactive, conceptual word walls to support science learning in an ethnically diverse, high-poverty middle school in a large southern state. Unit test scores of 115 sixth grade students were collected and analyzed in order to test whether the percentage of students passing, and the mean test score among students, significantly varied on the basis of whether interactive, conceptual word walls were utilized. Both were found to be significant. Linear regression determined the effects of word walls on the basis of three demographic variables. On the basis of this analysis, the percentage of students passing is expected to increase by 25% and the mean test scores is predicted to increase by 12.56 points when interactive, conceptual word walls are utilized. Qualitative methods were used to analyze student and teacher perceptions. A good, better, best word wall rubric that was used to guide word wall construction and teacher reflection is also presented. Interactive, conceptual word walls are presented as a viable teaching strategy that positively impacts both unit test means and the total number of students passing science tests.

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