When Math is Not a Universal Language: Improving the Use of Evidence-based Vocabulary Instruction in Inclusive Middle School Mathematics Classrooms

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-1638-1886
Peeples, Katherine, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kennedy, Michael, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

Middle school students with disabilities often struggle with reading and literacy skills including vocabulary, and require support in content-area classes where a student’s weak vocabulary knowledge can negatively affect his/her learning, achievement, and deep understanding. Mathematics at the middle school level is one such content area in which students who struggle with literacy and language (including but not limited to students with disabilities) tend to perform poorly on assessments of mathematical knowledge and procedures. In general, middle school mathematics teachers are not provided with training in literacy instruction, much less in explicit vocabulary instruction. Additionally, there are relatively few studies in the current literature that examine content-area vocabulary instruction at the middle school or secondary level.
This study aimed to address these gaps in the research by examining the effect of the performance feedback and coaching component of the Content Acquisition Podcasts for Professional Development (CAP-PD) system on middle school mathematics teachers’ use of explicit mathematics vocabulary instruction. Results of the study indicate that performance feedback and coaching had moderately positive effects on teachers’ use and quality of explicit mathematics vocabulary instruction. Explicit vocabulary instruction in mathematics has potential to support and improve the mathematical conceptual and procedural understanding of students with disabilities.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
content-area vocabulary, middle grades mathematics, explicit vocabulary instruction, academic vocabulary, teacher professional development
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