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e-Lective Case Study


Minoo Ardeshiri
Sarah Cohen
Jim Cummins







Last Modified

February 3, 2007


This study examined the relative efficacy of electronic as compared to hard-copy textual environments in supporting students' acquisition of vocabulary. Forty-six grade 5 students were randomly assigned to four Aesop's Fables that had been equated for difficulty, with the constraint that each student would read two texts in each condition. Scaffolding in the electronic condition was provided by an on-line monolingual English dictionary while a dictionary from the school library was used in the hard-copy condition. In the electronic condition students could carry out practice exercises (based on cloze procedures) focused on the words they did not know while in the hard-copy condition students simply wrote down the unknown words and tried to remember their meaning. The two conditions were equally effective in supporting students' acquisition of new vocabulary. Students learned more than 60% of words they previously did not know and they demonstrated retention of this vocabulary on a post-test administered two weeks later. It is suggested that computer-supported approaches to academic language learning might benefit from a multi-modal approach that included paper-and-pencil activities, such as keeping a notebook log of new vocabulary, in addition to any practice exercises carried out on the computer.


Computer Supported Scaffolding of LIteracy Development

In a knowledge-based global economy, the literacy level of the population is increasingly seen by policy-makers as crucial to economic growth. The Canadian Education Association (2004), for example, notes that, "a 1% increase in adult literacy produces a permanent 1.5% increase in the gross domestic product. For Canada, that would result in...
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