Video-Assisted Vocabulary Instruction for Elementary School Students with Learning Disabilities

Theme & level: Videos, K-5 grades

“Poor reading is the most frequently reported academic problem of students with learning disabilities” (Rieth, Herbert, & Xin, p. 88).  This article discusses the use of videos to help with vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension skills for students with learning disabilities.

The study consists of seventy six 4th-6th grade students who receive remedial instruction in special education resource rooms.  They were randomly assigned to either a video or nonvideo instructional group.  The video group learned word definition and concepts in video based contexts. The nonvideo group learned word defenition and concepts using  dictionaries and printed texts.  All students were given a pretest, post test, and follow up test two weeks after the 6 week study, with 30 words taught as a target base.  Students which were in the video group had statistically higher word acquisition scores than nonvideo group.  For reading comprehension, there was no change.  However, researchers felt if a longer time frame was spent on the study, it would show marked improvement in comprehension.

Past research has recommended an interactive learning condition to help students with learning disabilities.  Reith, et al (p. 88) states, “This theory assumes that the learner and learning environment (e.g. text, material, teacher) constitute the basis of learning and a student’s learning is directly affected by his/her learning environment”.   With this theory an intervention strategy involves creating a richer learning environment for the learner.  This allows for sensory images, relevant issues, and dynamic moving events to be viewed by the students.  Students can develop skills for pattern recognition, relating to auditory and visual cues, rather than just what the teacher is saying.  This promotes a space with realist context, making learning more meaningful and useful which can motive student as they learn to read.

NETS-S (#2 &#6) is being met by the students using their existing knowledge of reading to come up with new ideas for learning vocabulary through the video program.  Plus they understand the use of video technology and applying it to the reading lesson.  NETS-T (#1, #2, & #5) is being met by teachers using their knowledge of subject matter to enhance the learning process of the students.  They are designing visual and auditory ways for learning disability students to understand content vocabulary.  And they are striving to improve their own teaching methods by supporting all students within their classroom.

My interest in this article comes from searching out new ways in which to meet the needs of struggling readers.  I recently heard about a study which has shown the mere turning of a book page affects people who are dyslexic.  When they are able to read a text, say, on the computer, taking away the page turning, they do not have the same problems with the condition.  Fascinating!  This article gives another possibility of video use to incorporate into my future classroom.  Especially with students who have reading disabilities, and I believe, it can be a useful tool for all students in stepping up their reading acquisition.

RIETH, HERBERT, and JOY F. XIN. “Video-Assisted Vocabulary Instruction for Elementary School Students with Learning Disabilities.” Information Technology in Childhood Education Annual (2001): 87. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Nov. 2012.

About Jan Rue

Hi, I am a graduate student at Western Oregon University working towards a masters in teaching with an endorsement in reading. I am not currently teaching but hope to be able to teach in the elementary level.
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7 Responses to Video-Assisted Vocabulary Instruction for Elementary School Students with Learning Disabilities

  1. zobelg says:

    Given the findings of this article and your interest in working with struggling readers, would you try and include video in your classroom? How would you introduce it or explain it? Would every student have access to video, or would only the struggling readers get video access? What happens of the non-struggling readers want to access video as well? Do you think there are benefits to video for non-struggling readers?

    I am just thinking about all the different dynamics that can come into play if some students have access to a set of resources or experiences that other students don’t get–and how do you mitigate that?

    • Jan Rue says:

      Wow, you have given me somethings to think about. The video is set up on content area which was being done is social studies. And yes, I belive I would have it available to all students. In some ways there would be less singling out done of the struggling reader if it was available to all students. I could see the use of videos like this to use in a classroom. It could be time consuming but a vailable tool to use for content area learning. As I am not in the classroom at this time it is easy for me to see the benefits of using a video, but I do not have the experience to know how it would work exactly. In the article it did say the video was set up by two reading specialist to make sure the content area adn level was being taught. I believe you are a current teacher, I would love to hear what your take on this subject?

  2. tciscell says:

    Hi Jan,

    Great article review, thanks for sharing. I wanted to suggest that you might find ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) techniques particularly valuable for students who are struggling with reading. As you say, “…an intervention strategy involves creating a richer learning environment for the learner. This allows for sensory images, relevant issues, and dynamic moving events to be viewed by the students.” ESOL techniques are heavily focused on helping students explore language (written and spoken) in a more multi-modal way than traditional teaching provides. This means watching videos or making posters about literature or talking in groups and as a class about language. It means making connections between self and text, so students have situated and authentic experiences with what they are reading. There is more than this, of course, but I wanted to give you that idea to potentially investigate further. This will continue to build your proficiency with NETS-T #2C: “customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.”

    – Tyler

  3. jkelsey0519 says:

    I find it interesting that the study found students increased their vocabulary but not their scores for comprehension. I would like to see what they were using to assess comprehension, that is whether the words were used in context or if the comprehension strategy/assessment was different from the vocabulary. This is an intriguing study. I currently use laptops in my classroom for my on-level reading class. Even though this is on-level there are some students who are lower and of course higher. I would love to try to incorporate some of these video techniques for the vocabulary part of our reading program. This would give students more opportunities to work at their own pace and give me the chance to work with students individually!
    I also found the information about dyslexic students interesting as I have some low students in my class and I have wondered if there was some kind of undiagnosed disability there. This is the great thing about using technology – we find that it helps read students of all kinds in many different ways we never thought of!

    • Jan Rue says:


      Just a quick note in regards to the questions about comprehension not improving. The researchers felt the study was not long enough to see a marked improvement in comprehesion. They felt if it had been longer, they would see a difference in the scores. I agree it is an interesting study. Thanks for the thoughts and comment!


  4. I like the idea of a video for vocabulary words. My son is a 5th grader and has weekly vocab words to learn. They are part of a canned language arts program that his teacher uses and the spelling words and vocab words have no link to what is currently being taught in the classroom. I think that vocabulary should be taught in a more integrated way. For instance, if you are going to start studying the Oregon Trail your vocab words should be drawn from things that are related to the Oregon Trail. I think in this way it “sticks” better and is much more relevant. It would be great if kids could break into groups and make their own videos to teach the vocab words to one another. That would be super engaging!

  5. rljohnson06 says:

    I am doing pre-service observation work with High School students and they complain to me frequently about watching videos in class. I don’t blame them. It’s frustrating when you have to spend the day at school and all your teacher does is surf the internet while the class is told to soak up information from a TV screen. It’s interesting that elementary students are learning more from videos. I’m not an elementary school teacher and I don’t really understand why they bother to try to make students memorize words each week. I know that I remember perhaps 10 words that I tried to learn in elementary school. Few students remember the definitions of the words two months later. I suspect that much of the reason students are doing better with video is that they have been completely turned off to the idea of learning from books.

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