The University of Iowa

Vocabulary Instruction to Support the Career Readiness of Juvenile Offenders


Both literacy and career technical education are believed to be linked to better outcomes for juvenile offenders transitioning back to their communities after release. Therefore, this study employed a single group, pretest-posttest design to investigate the extent to which 13 juvenile offenders improved their understanding and completion of employment-related documents when provided vocabulary instruction embedded within a career readiness unit. The 24 target vocabulary terms were explicitly taught using a concept map and tested with items requiring knowledge of how the terms were applied in documents and related to each other. Students demonstrated significant improvement on the researcher-developed measure after six lessons, t(12) = 6.35, p < 0.001, d = 2.02. In addition, students learned to use the vocabulary concept maps quickly and were able to maintain a high level of accuracy with them across the lessons with only one exception. It took a couple of sessions for students to learn how to complete the associated documents with a high degree of accuracy, which was then maintained until students had to do more than fill in blanks.


Reed, D. K., *Miller, N., & Novosel, L. (2017). Vocabulary instruction to support the career readiness of juvenile offenders. Journal of Correctional Education 68(1), 32-51. 

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