The Role of Contextual Information in Word Meaning Acquisition during Normal Reading.
AuthorDiakidoy, Irene-Anna N.
Anderson, Richard C.
PublisherIllinois Univ, Urbana Center for the Study,of Reading;Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc.,
Place of publicationCambridge, M.A.;
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A study was conducted to examine the data collected by previous researchers on the degree of helpfulness of natural contexts. In this study two schemes of context cue types were compared on the basis of their contribution to word meaning acquisition, and their relationship to other text and word properties was explored. Subjects were 352 children (third, fifth, and seventh graders) who had served as subjects in previous research. All texts were taken from grade-level books and were classified as easy or hard texts based on judgments of how familiar the topic was for each group. There were two narrative texts and two expository texts assigned to each grade level. From each text, the most difficult words were selected as target words. Each context cue category was analyzed by two judges and each target word was analyzed in two ways. Although there were no significant main effects, the results indicated that strength and explicitness of cues interacted significantly with other text and word factors. Findings imply that the relevant question might not be whether presence and strength of such cues contribute to word learning from context, but instead, what the conditions are under which a reader would be more likely to utilize any cues present to infer the meaning of an unknown word. (Four figures and 12 tables of data are included and 19 references are attached.) (MG)