The effects of the language environment on sixth-graders' learning and attitudes in social studies

Florence Denise Musiello, Fordham University


This study compared the effects of two language environments on learning and attitudes in sixth grade social studies. The Productive Language Environment, based on the theory of language across the curriculum, stressed student talk and writing. The Receptive Language Environment, based on the classic pattern: teacher initiates, student responds, teacher evaluates, limited student language. The study also investigated possible interactions between general level of academic performance and instructional method.^ Sixty-two middle class students in a middle school were the subjects. Stanford Achievement Test Scores in Reading were used to assign students to achievement groups. The treatments were presented by the researcher from November to June.^ Pre- and posttest data were obtained from the New York State Social Studies Program Evaluation Tests, a Map Identification Test, and the Inventory of Affective Aspects of Schooling. Part III of the Program Evaluation Tests and descriptive data regarding students' attitudes were collected post-treatment only.^ The two language environments were described and monitored using student data from the Classroom Activities Questionnaire and open-ended essays, and nonparticipant observer data.^ Students and nonparticipant observers perceived cognitive, affective, and linguistic differences between the two language environments. Both environments produced significant student progress from pretests to posttests. There was no significant difference between the language environments on multiple choice test results. High and average students in the productive language environment scored significantly higher on the essay writing and map identification tests. Low students in the receptive language environment scored better on these measures. Productive language environment students at all achievement levels performed better on the participation project.^ Statistical analyses indicated no clear relationship between students' attitudes toward social studies and the language environment or level of academic achievement. Descriptive data showed that students prefer an environment similar to the productive language environment which encourages active student participation, group interaction, and students' expression of opinions. ^

Subject Area

Social sciences education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Musiello, Florence Denise, "The effects of the language environment on sixth-graders' learning and attitudes in social studies" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8813580.