Vocabulary acquisition from teacher explanation and repeated listening to stories: Do they overcome the Matthew effect?

Julie F. Penno, Ian A.G. Wilkinson, Dennis W. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

269 Citations (Scopus)


The authors evaluated the effect of listening to stories on children's vocabulary growth. Forty-seven children listened to 2 stories read to them in a small-group setting on 3 occasions, each 1 week apart. Target vocabulary items and items assessing generalization to nontarget words were selected, and pre- and posttest multiple-choice vocabulary measures were designed to measure vocabulary gains. In addition, a reading-retelling task was used to measure the subjects' knowledge of target and generalization words. For 1 story, children listened to the reading and were given explanations of target word meanings; for the other, children were not given explanations. The children acquired new vocabulary from listening to stories, with both frequency of exposure and teacher explanation of the target words enhancing vocabulary learning. However, the interventions were not sufficient to overcome the Matthew effect, as the higher ability children made greater vocabulary gains than lower ability children across all conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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