The study investigated the impact of fourth grade general education teacher implementation of the Vocabulary Scenario Technique – General Education 16 (VST-GE16) protocol on the vocabulary knowledge gains of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) circumstances. For children living in poverty, vocabulary knowledge deficits begin in toddlerhood and persist throughout their lives. Early deficits in vocabulary knowledge translate to performance gaps in vocabulary knowledge, literacy, and academic success between students from higher and lower SES homes. The development of explicit instructional protocols to be used by general education teachers is critical to the amelioration of these intransigent gaps. The study employed a quasi-experimental design (QED) with a treatment and comparison group. The settings for the study were four Title 1 schools in an urban-suburban district. Sixteen teachers (treatment, n = 10; comparison, n = 6), representing 20 classrooms, were recruited into the study. Treatment group teachers, who attended a three-hour face-to-face seminar and one hour of job-embedded coaching, implemented the VST-GE16 protocol and taught 32 academic vocabulary words to their students across a four week period; the comparison group teachers taught the same 32 words to their students using methods typical to their pedagogical practices (Typical Practice instruction) across a four week period. Three hundred and eighty-five fourth grade students participated in the study (treatment, n = 185; comparison, n = 198). Student vocabulary gains were measured with pretest-posttest multiple-choice synonym and cloze words-in-context instruments; data were analyzed using a split-plot Repeated-Measure ANOVA. Results indicated that VST-GE16 instruction significantly outperformed Typical Practice instruction in promoting vocabulary knowledge gains for synonyms and text comprehension. The current study advanced the effort to scale-up evidence-based practices to relevant educational settings and practitioners for the purpose of improving student outcomes, particularly for those students at-risk for academic failure secondary to socioeconomic disadvantage.


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Graduation Date





Ehren, Barbara


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Communication Science and Disorders









Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)