Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Jennifer Snow, Ph.D.


Katherine Landau Wright, Ph.D.


Kathleen Budge, Ph.D.


Daibao Guo, Ph.D.


Strong academic vocabulary is necessary for students’ success in school. Recent research has recommended studying integrated approaches for developing vocabulary, which is predictive of the long-term school success of all students. This dialectical concurrent mixed methods case study was designed to define and describe the early elementary vocabulary program of a fifteen-year-old southern Idaho public charter school recognized for high academic achievement of its high school students. In the tradition originally proposed for laboratory schools, this program was developed by innovative teachers with an idea for improving education and takes a classical approach to teaching. This includes an intentional culture building program and rigorous, vertically aligned curriculum beginning in kindergarten. Regression analysis of fourth grade students’ performance on a standardized measure of oral language suggested that while both socioeconomic status and years enrolled in this program impacted student vocabulary, the effect of the program was greater. Recently, vocabulary researchers have called for investigation of multi-faceted programs such as this where vocabulary is built as a product of four specific components: a rich and varied learning environment, direct teaching of word meanings, word learning strategies, and fostering word consciousness. The regular practices of this school consistently incorporate each of the four recommended approaches to vocabulary instruction. This study sought to define and describe the context and instructional strategies that result in the natural occurrence of each of these components. Multiple qualitative data sources including an interview, focus groups, and classroom observations were combined with quantitative survey data measuring the teachers’ knowledge of vocabulary development and effective instruction strategies to identify three themes which undergird the program.


Available for download on Sunday, July 06, 2025