Vocabulary and reading in secondary school: Evidence from longitudinal and experimental studies

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

Learning to read and acquiring a large and rich vocabulary have important implications for education and other aspects of daily life. Secondary education policy emphasises spoken and written communication. However, against a backdrop of calls for policy to focus on post-primary literacy (All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education, 2011 literacy inquiry) and recent concerns over GCSE English grades, there is a clear need to prioritise reading and oral vocabulary in secondary schools. Oral vocabulary skills underpin successful reading to the extent that a reader must understand the words in a text in order to fully understand it. Equally though, the reading process provides opportunities for new words to be learned. Therefore, growth in oral vocabulary should promote reading development and vice versa.

Existing research has focused on the relationship between reading and oral vocabulary in childhood, neglecting its importance in adolescence. Motivation for extending our understanding of oral vocabulary and reading to adolescence comes from evidence that as pupils get older and word reading becomes more automatic, oral vocabulary plays an increasingly important role in reading success. In addition, reading may be a particularly important strategy for vocabulary acquisition in secondary school, where pedagogical approaches emphasise independent reading and it is likely that unfamiliar words (e.g., science terms) are encountered in texts daily. Finally, fostering reading and vocabulary is essential for learning across the curriculum and this presents a particular challenge for secondary school education where pupils come into contact with many subject-specific teachers and little time is spent on making connections across subjects. Three studies will be conducted to investigate the development of oral vocabulary and reading in secondary school pupils.

Study 1 will track oral vocabulary and reading development in 200 pupils across the first three years of secondary school. These longitudinal data will be analysed to investigate whether there are bidirectional relationships between oral vocabulary and reading. Studies 2 and 3 will use a complementary experimental approach to investigate the role of reading in new word learning, and focus on smaller groups of secondary school pupils with and without oral vocabulary difficulties. In Study 2, pupils will encounter novel words in two successive phases. First, pupils will be taught some information about how the words sound and what they mean. Following this, pupils will read texts that contain the novel words, allowing them to see their printed forms for the first time, and learn more about their meanings. This study will probe whether secondary school pupils with oral vocabulary weaknesses struggle to learn new words from what they read. It will also explore whether teaching partial information about words promotes subsequent word learning from texts. As well as having theoretical implications, this study will have implications for how words are taught at school. Specifically, it may emphasise the value of enabling pupils to encounter words in both oral and written contexts. Study 3 will investigate a second way in which reading skills support new word learning. During the course of a lesson, teachers often write words on the board when they are explaining their meanings; there is evidence that this instructional approach is effective from two previous experimental studies with children. Study 3 will systematically investigate this phenomenon in secondary pupils with and without oral vocabulary difficulties for the first time, providing an evidence base (or not) for the value of emphasising visual word forms in secondary vocabulary instruction and intervention.

These studies will have implications across psychology, education and speech and language therapy by informing theories of reading and vocabulary development and practical approaches for teaching vocabulary.

Planned Impact

It is anticipated that the main non-academic beneficiaries will be teachers, teaching assistants and pupils in secondary schools. However, the findings will also have important implications for academics involved in teacher education, policy makers and speech and language therapists.

In its potential to provide evidence for causal relationships between oral vocabulary and reading in early adolescence, the proposed research will have clear implications for secondary educational practice, policy and speech and language therapy by emphasising the contribution of oral vocabulary to reading development and reciprocally, of reading to vocabulary growth. In addition, the research will explore strategies that may be successful for working with pupils in secondary schools as part of whole class teaching (quality first teaching/wave 1) and intervention approaches for vocabulary (waves 2 and 3). Specifically, it is anticipated that Studies 1 and 2 will highlight the importance for vocabulary development of encouraging pupils to read widely and to use the reading process to learn new words. In addition, if pre-exposure to lexical information promotes learning in Study 2 (cf. Steele et al., 2012), this would motivate instructional and intervention approaches in which pupils with and without language learning needs are introduced to words before they encounter them through independent reading (e.g., homework). Finally, if orthographic facilitation is observed in Study 3 (cf. Ricketts et al., 2009; Rosenthal & Ehri, 2008), this will provide an evidence base for presenting orthography when introducing unknown vocabulary. Current expert advice on vocabulary teaching does not emphasise using orthography in this way (e.g., Beck et al., 2002). Writing key vocabulary on the board is a known pedagogical strategy. However, our observation of 25 secondary English lessons (unpublished data) indicated that in 40% of cases, teachers did not write key vocabulary on the board (see also Ehri & Rosenthal, 2007).

A programme of planned activities (INSET in schools, practitioner workshop, pupil-run survey, parliamentary seminar and briefings) will ensure that the key messages outlined above are translated directly and quickly into practice. In addition, the activities will promote engagement in the research of school staff, speech and language therapists, pupils and policy makers. Through my leadership of the First Language and Literacy Research Group and other roles at the Institute of Education, University of Reading, I will also work closely with a number of academics who are engaged in initial training and continuing professional development for teachers in the UK, impacting indirectly on a wider group of teachers through their training. For more details on how the proposed work will be managed to engage users and beneficiaries, see the 'pathways to impact' attachment.

Potential users have already been involved in the research. I have discussed its aims with a number of interested parties, who have expressed their belief in the project's importance and agreed to participate in its advisory group. The group will draw from expertise in academia, teacher education, teaching (specifically special educational needs teaching), speech and language therapy and research, the third sector, policy, and the commercial sector (a leading UK publisher of literacy and oral vocabulary assessments). These individuals will steer the design, execution and dissemination of the proposed research from its inception to its completion. In addition, they will guide pathways to impact, ensuring that the transfer, exchange and co-creation of knowledge is maximised.

Publications

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Charman T (2015) Emotional and behavioural problems in children with language impairments and children with autism spectrum disorders. in International journal of language & communication disorders

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Dawson N (2017) The role of semantic knowledge in learning to read exception words in Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, August 2017

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Dawson N (2018) Morphological effects in visual word recognition: Children, adolescents, and adults. in Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition

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Taylor J (2015) How Word Meaning Influences Word Reading in Current Directions in Psychological Science

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Valentini A (2018) Listening while reading promotes word learning from stories. in Journal of experimental child psychology

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/K008064/1 01/01/2014 30/09/2014 £248,073
ES/K008064/2 Transfer ES/K008064/1 01/10/2014 15/07/2017 £169,702
 
Description 1.1. The longitudinal study successfully tracked vocabulary and reading development from 12 to 14 years, resulting in a new academic collaboration with Professor Charles Hulme (Oxford) and Arne Lervåg (Oslo) and generating significant new knowledge (Ricketts et al., under revision):
a. For many pupils, poor vocabulary and reading will constrain access to the secondary curriculum
b. Growth in vocabulary and reading was minimal (though significant) and rank order amongst pupils was preserved over time.
c. Gaps in performance between the highest and lowest performing pupils were reducing, indicating that lower achievers were catching up.
d. Word reading did not predict subsequent growth in reading comprehension.
e. Vocabulary and reading comprehension were best characterised as part of the same construct.

2. Experimental work elucidated two ways in which reading abilities impact on vocabulary learning in early adolescence. In the first experiment (Ricketts et al., in prep), we furthered our understanding of why emphasising written word forms helps adolescents to learn new spoken forms and their meanings, refining theory. We are currently investigating whether these findings can be replicated outside of the lab, and naturalistically in the classroom. This line of research has led to two new collaborations, with Dr Rob Davies (Lancaster) and Dr Elizabeth Wonnacott (UCL). In our second experiment, we investigated word learning through the process of reading, building on previous research (e.g., Ricketts et al., 2011). Coding and analysis of these data are underway but preliminary analyses indicate that introducing children to the spoken forms and meanings of words results in better learning when they are later encountered in print.

3. The longitudinal and experimental work has allowed me to build research capacity by using complex statistical methods. I attended four courses on longitudinal modelling (UCL, Oslo, Southampton) and the longitudinal data that we collected have been modelled within a structural equation modelling framework, using Mplus, in collaboration with Professor Hulme and Dr Lervåg. I also attended two courses on using R and mixed-effects models (Reading, Royal Holloway) and analysed data for the orthographic facilitation experiment (Ricketts et al., in prep) and another project (Ricketts et al., 2016) using R and mixed-effects models, in collaboration with Dr Davies.

4. The grant has enabled me to maintain existing networks and build important new networks with non-academic stakeholders. Regular meetings with the advisory group allowed me to build long-standing relationships with teachers (primary and secondary), a teacher educator, a speech and language therapist, an educational publisher and a policy expert. I have benefitted enormously from their expertise: discussions have informed dissemination and interpretation, and shaped my research focus more generally. Annual practitioner workshops have enabled two-way engagement with a large number of teachers and other professionals working with pupils in school. Finally, the parliamentary seminar extended my networks within parliament and government, and generated important new contacts and opportunities in the charity sector. For example, I advise the Educational Endowment Foundation and am on the expert advisory group for National Literacy Trust.
Exploitation Route Academic beneficiaries: The findings have cross-disciplinary implications for psychology, education and language sciences. Research and theory have focused on language and literacy in childhood, neglecting adolescence, and need to be refined to accommodate our findings. In using latent constructs and a relatively large sample, our methodological approach has set a standard for future longitudinal research. In addition, theories of language development need to be amended to acknowledge that, once children can read, their reading abilities affect language development.

Non-academic: The findings have informed education by showing that, for many secondary pupils, poor vocabulary knowledge and reading will constrain access to the curriculum. It is clear from working with teachers that secondary teachers lack the knowledge and resources needed to support these children. It is hoped that the findings will pave the way for changes in educational policy and practice that will address low language and literacy in secondary pupils (e.g., targeted teacher training, curriculum changes, age-appropriate intervention materials), and close the gaps between these low achievers and their higher performing peers. In addition, many teachers and speech and language therapists who I have engaged with have used my findings, harnessing reading to promote vocabulary learning in children and adolescents.

1. Findings from the longitudinal study will have implications for educational policy and practice, indicating that universal approaches are needed to ensure that secondary pupils make progress in oral vocabulary and reading during early adolescence. In addition, targeted approaches are required to promote oral vocabulary and reading in pupils who do not have the requisite vocabulary knowledge and reading ability to successfully access the curriculum, and close the gaps between these low achievers and their higher performing peers. Despite success in teaching reading in primary schools, explicit reading instruction is absent from the secondary curriculum and secondary teachers do not receive training on how to support poor readers. Initial teacher education and continuing professional development for secondary teachers should include details of how to support poor readers.

2. Findings from this experiment indicate that practitioners who are engaged in teaching words to children (e.g., teachers, speech and language therapists) should harness children's reading abilities to support oral vocabulary learning.

3. Findings may indicate strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to promote the learning that takes place independently through reading.
Sectors Education,Healthcare

URL http://www.variss.org
 
Description My future research leaders grant gave me an opportunity to develop my impact activities, building extensive networks with stakeholders and developing my understanding of their contexts, pressures and needs. The key findings from the research are outlined in detail elsewhere but importantly: 1) the longitudinal study highlighted that important developments in vocabulary knowledge and reading are happening in adolescence; 2) the longitudinal study showed that there is a small minority of secondary pupils for which a lack of vocabulary knowledge and reading ability will constrain access to the curriculum and educational progress at school; and 3) the experimental studies provided evidence for teaching strategies that take into account reading when considering how to promote vocabulary growth in adolescents. Overall, this project has foregrounded the importance of focusing on language and literacy in secondary pupils. Till now research has focused almost exclusively on primary-aged pupils and adults, neglecting the intervening adolescent period. In the pathways to impact I proposed a series of activities to engage key stakeholders, namely pupils and their families, teachers, educational policy makers and speech and language therapists. I have undertaken these activities, as well as other pathways, with early impacts starting to emerge. A) All stakeholder groups and the public I set up a website for the project (www.variss.org), and subsequently for my research lab (http://pc.rhul.ac.uk/sites/lara/) where we have been able to summarise the research and resulting activities for the public. These posts have been promoted across facebook and twitter social media platforms. Prior to obtaining funding, I set up an advisory group, which included representative from schools, teacher education, speech and language therapy, the third sector, policy and the commercial sector. This advisory group met six times in the funding period and was invaluable for increasing my understanding of these stakeholder groups, developing networks and relationships with these and other stakeholders, for guiding the research design, dissemination and finally, and most importantly, for shaping my understanding of both expected and unexpected potential impacts. B) Pupils and their families We provided participating pupils and their families with information about the project when they gave consent to take part and provided means for finding out about the projects findings. We also worked with a separate group of pupils on a survey to actively involve them in the research process. In a series of workshops we supported them to develop a survey about why reading is important, to administer the survey to other pupils and to analyse and interpret the findings. One of the pupils wrote about this experience for the school newsletter. We used a questionnaire to evidence impact on these pupils, showing that following this experience pupils were more likely to consider a career in research and value to the importance of reading. C) Practitioners: teachers and speech and language therapists During and since the funding period, I have continued to work closely with practitioners, developing existing networks. Across a range of activities I have worked collaboratively with them to consider research questions, whether the design of a study will be feasible in the school setting and to discuss my findings and draw out their implications for practice. For example, I have given talks and CPD events at schools, contributed to conferences aimed at speech and language therapists and teachers, engaged in live chats on the Wellcome Trust Science of Learning zone, and I organise our annual 'Working Together' research-practice workshop at the university. Questionnaires have indicated clear changes to thinking and practice around vocabulary and reading in primary and secondary schools. These and other activities brought my research to the attention of the Times Educational Supplement, for whom I have now completed an interview (http://bit.ly/tes_ricketts), podcast (http://bit.ly/tes_rickettspod) and book review (http://bit.ly/tes_quigley), all of which have allowed me to foreground literacy and language in secondary school. I will shortly submit an article for them on literacy in secondary school. D) Policy makers As articulated in my pathways to impact document, I worked closely with the parliamentary office of science and technology (POST) to hold a parliamentary seminar on 'Measuring Literacy' in Autumn 2016. Questionnaires showed changes to thinking and anticipated changes to practice. Since then, I have continued to work closely with POST on other activities (http://bit.ly/post_story). I have also had a series of meetings with the literacy curriculum and basic skills teams at the Department for Education, in which they have expressed an interest in starting to think more carefully about literacy in secondary school (currently their focus is on primary and post-16). E) The charity and commercial sectors The advisory group, parliamentary seminar and other activities have led to engagement with a range of charities and companies. I have continued to work closely with GL assessment on their educational publishing activities, advising them on a range of assessments. I have also developed links with Oxford University Press. I now sit on advisory boards for the National Literacy Trust and Thinking Reading, two literacy charities and have advised the Educational Endowment Foundation on their research reviews. Most recently they have asked me to be a panel member for the forthcoming review of secondary literacy, which will further highlight the importance of this topic.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description ESRC DTC CASE studentship
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description ESRC SeNSS DTP studentship
Amount £0 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2021
 
Description Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Organisation Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Description Experimental Psychology Society Workshop Funding
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 02/2019
 
Description Nuffield Foundation Grant
Amount £305,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EDO/43287 
Organisation Nuffield Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 05/2020
 
Description US National Institute of Health (NIH) R01
Amount $3,718,181 (USD)
Funding ID R01 DC016895 
Organisation National Institutes of Health (NIH) 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 07/2018 
End 06/2023
 
Description Crystalised vs. fluid knowledge 
Organisation Dalhousie University
Department Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contributions to the design of an experiment
Collaborator Contribution Funding (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, NSERC) and design, data collection
Impact Mimeau, C., Ricketts, J., & Deacon, S.H. (under revision). The role of orthographic and ortho-semantic learning in word-level reading and reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading. A second article is in process.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Eye tracking 
Organisation Oxford Brookes University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Theoretical, design and data collection
Collaborator Contribution Dr Holly Joseph has provided training on how to use the Eyelink 1000 eye tracker
Impact Talk at Oxford Brookes (November 2014) and plans for future research funding application
Start Year 2014
 
Description Hogan Wolter 
Organisation MGH Institute of Health Professions
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to all aspects of study design
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to all aspects of study design
Impact NIH R1 grant application awarded 2018 (total value USD $3,718,181)
Start Year 2016
 
Description Hogan Wolter 
Organisation Montana State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to all aspects of study design
Collaborator Contribution Contribution to all aspects of study design
Impact NIH R1 grant application awarded 2018 (total value USD $3,718,181)
Start Year 2016
 
Description Longitudinal analysis 
Organisation University of Oslo
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design and collection of extensive longitudinal data (phase 1 of 3 now completed)
Collaborator Contribution Professor Charles Hulme (involved since 2013) and Professor Arne Lervåg (involved since 2017) have and will contribute knowledge of growth curve modelling for longitudinal analysis
Impact Data collection from Study 1 (longitudinal study) finished in July 2016, analysis is underway and the article will be submitted in due course: Ricketts, J., Dawson, N., Lervåg, A. & Hulme, C. (in prep). Vocabulary and reading development in early adolescence.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Longitudinal analysis 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Sir William Dunn School of Pathology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design and collection of extensive longitudinal data (phase 1 of 3 now completed)
Collaborator Contribution Professor Charles Hulme (involved since 2013) and Professor Arne Lervåg (involved since 2017) have and will contribute knowledge of growth curve modelling for longitudinal analysis
Impact Data collection from Study 1 (longitudinal study) finished in July 2016, analysis is underway and the article will be submitted in due course: Ricketts, J., Dawson, N., Lervåg, A. & Hulme, C. (in prep). Vocabulary and reading development in early adolescence.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Mixed effects modelling 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Theoretical, design and data collection
Collaborator Contribution Dr Robert Davies has provided expertise on how to analyse experimental data using mixed effects models
Impact Talk at Lancaster University (October 2014) Ricketts, J., Stuart, M., Masterson, J., Davies, R., & Duff, F. (2016). Evidence for semantic involvement in regular and exception word reading in emergent readers of English. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 150, 330-345. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2016.05.013 Ricketts, J., Dawson, N., & Davies, R. (in prep). Hear a word, see a word, learn a word: The impact of orthography on oral vocabulary acquisition in children and adolescents. Based on data collected under this award (Study 3)
Start Year 2014
 
Description Shapiro 
Organisation Aston University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to all stages of study design
Collaborator Contribution Leading contribution to all stages of study design
Impact Outline grant application to the Nuffield Foundation (submitted 13.3.2017), the full application was then submitted and successful (starts March 2018, total value: £304,872)
Start Year 2016
 
Description . Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talk entitled: Hear a word, see a word, learn a word: The impact of orthography on oral vocabulary acquisition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Advisory Group meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Across five advisory group meetings, we have discussed our research plans and progress with the group, which includes experts in reading policy (Professor Rhona Stainthorp, Univerity of Reading, Sir Jim Rose, CfBT Education Trust), local government (Jenny Tuck, Reading Borough Council), teacher education (Eileen Hyder, University of Reading), speech and language therapy (Susan Ebbels, Moor House School), publishing educational materials (Sue Thompson, GL Assessment), teaching in secondary schools (Margaret Sampson, St Crispins Secondary School), teaching in primary schools (Carol Pedley, Holly Lodge school)

We have had extensive discussions and the design, execution and dissemination of the project, including planned impact activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
 
Description City University of New York Colloquium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited colloquium entitled 'Orthographic facilitation in vocabulary acquisition: Where are we now?'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Department for Education literacy team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I have been in regular contact with the Senior Executive Officer for Policy in the English team, reporting on the findings from this project. I have also provided input on literacy (word reading and reading comprehension) interventions/best practice for pupils in the 8-11. In my response I emphasised assessment issues and CPD for teachers as these are where my expertise lie.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description Dyslexia Guild Keynote 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited keynote entitled: 'Reciprocal relationships between vocabulary and reading'. Attendees were mostly practitioners working with children with dyslexia. Approximately 200 people attended, with 22 providing feedback. Of these, the majority expressed changes to their understanding or future behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Education Endowment Foundation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I provided input on the North East Primary Literacy campaign and be a panel member for the secondary literacy review
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
 
Description GL Assessment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I have been advising on a new spelling test that GL Assessment are developing, for use by teachers and other professionals to assess spelling progress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description Helen Arkell Keynote 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote address entitled 'How can we harness children's reading skills to promote vocabulary learning?' with ensuing discussion of how to support reading and vocabulary in school. Approximately 120 people attended, of these, 48 provided feedback, with the majority expressing change to their understanding or future behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk entitled: The VaRiSS Project: Vocabulary and Reading in Secondary School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description INSET training for schools 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Nicky Dawson (RA on the project) gave presentations on the project and on speech and language therapy to a school and also at a regional SENCO conference in Brackness, which led to discussion

None as yet
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description National Literacy Trust Literacy Expert Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Input on literacy research to the expert panel, attending meetings, commenting on documents
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description National Literacy Trust Literacy for Life conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Keynote address: Vocabulary and Reading in Secondary School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Oxford Department of Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote entitled 'The VaRiSS Project: Vocabulary and Reading in Secondary School' to academics and teachers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Parliamentary Seminar on Measuring Literacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I organised the event in collaboration with Sarah Bunn and others at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Academic colleagues gave short presentations (Professor Kathy Rastle on the value of testing for learning, Professor Maggie Snowling on early language and literacy development) and I talked about this project and measuring literacy in secondary school. David Weston (former teacher and expert in education and continuing professional development) acted as discussant. The session and ensuing discussion was chaired by Suella Fernandes MP (member of the Education Select Committee), with important points about motivation for reading and the lack of continuing professional development for secondary teachers and age-appropriate materials for secondary pupils. 78 delegates signed up to attend from government, parliament, charities, research, speech and language therapies and schools. Of these, 29 provided feedback, with the majority expressing change to their understanding or behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://pc.rhul.ac.uk/sites/lara/2016/10/11/parliamentary-seminar-measuring-literacy/
 
Description Patoss workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This workshop was entitled 'How can we harness children's reading skills to promote vocabulary learning?'. It showcased my research, including Study 3, which was supported with this award. Teachers and other dyslexia practitioners worked with me to consider the implications of the research for their practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at Moor House School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk was given to speech and language therapists and teachers at this school, which is a special school for children with language impairments. We shared plans for the project with practitioners but also sought their advice in the design of an experiment in which we are teaching children new vocabulary items - something that is central to speech and language therapy practice. Through this we hoped to capture some aspects of best practice in relation to vocabulary teaching.

We adopted suggestions from the practitioners, including how to structure our vocabulary teaching (30-60 minutes per week on the same day of two consecutive weeks), how to incorporate active tasks in our teaching to maximise learning
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Pupil survey 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We worked with a group of pupils in school to engage them in the research process, from its inception to completion. In an initial session, we worked with pupils to develop a questionnaire, with pupils coming up with the questions and responses. Pupils helped to enter the survey into surveymonkey and then administered the survey to their friends at school. In a second follow-up session we looked at the data and worked together to come up with explanations for the findings. Pupils then wrote the findings up for the school newsletter. The article was posted on our website (URL below). Before and after the activity, pupils were asked about whether they would consider a career in research and whether reading is important for being successful in life (the topic of the questionnaire that they designed). In both questions, there was evidence of change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://variss.org/2015/10/01/involving-secondary-pupils-in-research/
 
Description Research-practice Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Workshop to encourage discussion of research between researchers and practitioners working with children in and around schools (teachers, speech and language therapists, mental health practitioners etc.). Also attended by policy experts, charities and the commercial sector. We discussed issues relating to literacy in primary and secondary school, and mental health. Just over 100 people registered to attend, with 41 providing feedback, the majority reported change to their understanding of reading, and/or to their future behaviour/practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description School visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Developing relationships with schools participating in the research (particularly head teachers, SENCOs, senior management) to conduct research, provide feedback on the project and discuss research findings and teaching practice. We visited the following schools in and around Berkshire: Downsway Primary School, St Crispins Secondary School, Cox Green Secondary School, Emmbrook Secondary School, Garth Hill Secondary School.

The meeting at St Crispins will lead to a joint research project between my research team and Year 8 pupils, in which pupils will be guided to carry out some research and disseminate findings within school (newsletter), the local region (local newspaper, pracitioner workshop) and nationally (parliament)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
 
Description Social media engagement (website, facebook, twitter) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Disseminated information about the project through our websites (see below and my lab's website http://pc.rhul.ac.uk/sites/lara/) and invited the public to take part in a vocabulary survey. We are also active on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/varissproject/) and twitter under two handles (@ricketts_lara and @varissproject).

Following our posts on the website, facebook and twitter we have met with the designers of Word Aware, a popular approach for supporting vocabulary learning in schools
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://variss.org/
 
Description Surrey SLI CEN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk entitled: How can we harness children's reading skills to promote vocabulary learning?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk led to discussion

In part, the talk led to a collaboration with colleagues at Dalhousie University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Talk at Lancaster University, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk with discussion afterwards

Contributed to developing a collaboration at Lancaster University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Talk at Oxford Brookes University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk with ensuing discussion

Contributed to collaboration with Oxford Brookes University for eye tracking training and future research funding bid
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Teacher conference (Reading Quest) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation from me that generated discussion afterwards. Feedback forms were completed immediately afterwards to monitor impact and these have been redistributed to assess impact longer term.

Teachers reported that the presentation had changed the way that they think about reading development, emphasising the importance of comprehension and vocabulary knowledge and insights on how to assess reading in schools. Also has improved confidence in emphasising the importance of these aspects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Thinking Reading Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Research input to the advisory board, attending meetings, commenting on documents and decisions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Times Educational Supplement interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Written interview, followed up by a podcast
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description UCL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation to academics, students and speech and language therapists: Hear a word, see a word, learn a word: The impact of orthography on oral vocabulary acquisition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Wellcome Trust Science of Learning Zone 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Answering teacher questions and contributing to live chat
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018