Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Robinson, Randall


Language experience approach in education; Reward (Psychology) in children; Second grade (Education); Vocabulary--Study and teaching (Primary)


Elementary Education and Teaching


In this study the effects of social and tangible reinforcement in whole language was measured. The purpose was to determine if there were any significant effects of the various treatment conditions on vocabulary acquisition.

Social reinforcement and tangible reinforcement are used to motivate students to perform (Neihoff & Mesch, 1991) and achieve (Hitz & Driscoll, 1989). The academic performance and achievement of students in the area of vocabulary acquisition is an important part of the academic process. Vocabulary remains a key focus in education (Nagy, 1988). Whole language programs include vocabulary acquisition (Blachowicz & Fisher, 1996).

The sample for this study included 24 second grade students in a suburban public elementary school. Of the 24 students, 45.8% were Caucasian, 37.5% were Hispanic, 8.3% were African-American, and 8.3% were Other. In regard to gender, 66.7% were male and 33.3% were female. The socioeconomic status of the sample was of the lower to middle range.

A repeated-measures design was used to present social, tangible, and social paired with tangible reinforcement during the presentation of vocabulary. A quiz consisting of a word bank and fill in the blank sentences was administered following the treatment conditions. Data were analyzed using the repeated-measures ANOVA. A significant difference in vocabulary acquisition between the various treatment conditions was realized.