Exploring Vocabulary Self-Concept of Middle School History Students with Reading Difficulties
Many adolescents with reading difficulties experience low self-concept. One commonality found across poor readers, including students with reading disabilities (RD) as well as students who are English learners (ELs), is the difficulty they face grasping history text with academic vocabulary that is beyond their current level of vocabulary development. While the field is beginning to understand the relationship between reading achievement and reading self-concept in adolescents, less is understood about the relationship between vocabulary knowledge specifically and vocabulary self-concept of adolescent poor readers in content areas such as US history. This study examined whether U.S. history vocabulary knowledge predicts the vocabulary self-concept of 102 eighth-grade adolescents identified as poor readers. Also examined was whether differences existed between the vocabulary self-concept of the 51 poor readers who received three weeks of vocabulary instruction and the 51 poor readers who did not receive the vocabulary instruction. Results indicated adolescent poor readers’ vocabulary knowledge predicts their self-concept regardless of instruction condition. Prior self-concept was also found to predict post-instruction self-concept. In addition, adolescents who received vocabulary instruction had a higher vocabulary self-concept than their peers who did not receive vocabulary instruction. No significant differences were found based on student characteristics (i.e., RD or EL status). Practical implications and a need for future research are discussed.