Sandra Schamroth Abrams

Gamified Vocabulary: Online, Inside, and Outside the Classroom

Sandra Schamroth Abrams, The School of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Twenty-first century multimodal adaptive technologies present new opportunities for students to understand word meanings and usage. Traditional dictionary space requirements and formal descriptions may result in less effective instructional devices that limit reader understanding of nuanced language contexts (Marzano, 2004). Further, dictionaries often impede comprehension with pedantic or esoteric language, especially since students best understand definitions in everyday language (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Marzano, 2004). Online vocabulary arenas, however, seem to have spatial advantages and provide students multiple, albeit virtual, contexts for learning vocabulary; research shows students “need multiple opportunities to read and use words in multiple contexts” (Nagy & Townsend, 2012, p. 96). This presentation, Gamified Vocabulary: Online, Inside, and Outside the Classroom, draws upon data from a five-month qualitative study of nine New York City public and private school eleventh graders who attended five, 75-minute after-school vocabulary support sessions. The data reveal students’ initial online search routines and suggest that online game-like vocabulary resources can promote vocabulary growth outside of the classroom. Further, the presentation details the elements of gamification and vocabulary learning that provide insight into the engaging factors of online learning and assessment that can extend beyond the screen and into the classroom.