Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Joyce Fine

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lynne Miller

Third Advisor's Name

George O'Brien

Fourth Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson


academic language, academic text talk, oral language, active learning, multimodal, reading comprehension, science, elementary students, discussion, retelling

Date of Defense



Changing demographics impact our schools as children come from more linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. The various social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of the students affect their early language learning experiences which expose them to the academic language needed to succeed in school. Teachers can help students acquire academic language by introducing words that are within their Zone of Proximal Development and increasing exposure to and use of academic language. This study investigated the effects of increasing structured activities for students to orally interact with informational text on their scientific academic language development and comprehension of expository text.

The Academic Text Talk activities, designed to scaffold verbalization of new words and ideas, included discussion, retelling, games, and sentence walls. This study also evaluated if there were differences in scientific language proficiency and comprehension between boys and girls, and between English language learners and native English speakers.

A quasi-experimental design was used to determine the relationship between increasing students’ oral practice with academic language and their academic language proficiency. Second graders (n = 91) from an urban public school participated in two science units over an 8 week period and were pre and post tested using the Woodcock Muñoz Language Survey-Revised and vocabulary tests from the National Energy Education Project. Analysis of covariance was performed on the pre to post scores by treatment group to determine differences in academic language proficiency for students taught using Academic Text Talk compared to students taught using a text-centered method, using the initial Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading test as a covariate. Students taught using Academic Text Talk multimodal strategies showed significantly greater increases in their pre to posttest means on the Woodcock Muñoz Language Survey-Revised Oral Language Totals and National Energy Education Development Project Vocabulary tests than students taught using the text-centered method, ps < .05. Boys did not show significantly greater increases than girls, nor did English language learners show significantly greater increases than the native English speakers.

This study informs the field of reading research by evaluating the effectiveness of a multimodal combination of strategies emphasizing discourse to build academic language.





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