Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


A growing trend in American education suggests a rising population of students who do not speak English as their native language. Vocabulary development for these students is a necessary building block for future academic achievement. Since literacy depends on language acquisition, this research was undertaken with a focus on students within the English Learner Language population. School districts, pressured by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, are exploring ways to lessen the achievement gap. The purpose of this specific study, then, was to research potential instructional strategies for pre-kindergarten students who are English Language Learners (ELLS). The central question addresses how implementing aspects of the inquiry method in a meaningful socio-cultural context, combined with utilizing science journals, impacts retention of science vocabulary for ELLs. Students were encouraged to discuss themes, concepts, and vocabulary as they worked through their lessons. This aligns with Vgotsky’s theories regarding proximal development which asserts that more competent peers promote cognitive growth.

The study was conducted in a suburban school district through a small sample study of ten pre-kindergarten students over a three week period. The research used two instructional strategies concurrently - science journals and integrating inquiry method with socio-cultural context. Results were gathered using pre and post-testing, and classroom observation. Although a small sample group was utilized for this research project, conclusions drawn support and suggest a direct correlation between the use of science journals and inquiry instruction methods and increased science vocabulary and content understanding.


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