Effective Methods for Teaching Vocabulary in Geometry

Christy Engel, '10, Leah A. Nillas

Research output: Faculty Advisor of Undergraduate Research


Mathematics is sometimes thought as a language due to the large amount of vocabulary involve in learning this subject. An important element of understanding a language is the comprehension of the vocabulary words and the ability to use them in context. Prior research found that teaching methods which required a deeper level of processing and understanding led to better retention than methods that required basic comprehension (Sagarra, 2006). My self-study focuses on the effects of the use of different instructional methods in teaching mathematics vocabulary on students' understanding of geometry definitions and their meanings. I conducted the study in a high school geometry classroom wherein I implemented and analyzed five different instructional methods (Le., playing charades, making connections to realUfe examples, connecting English and symbolic definitions, using if-then definitions and studying the different parts of the words) used to teach math vocabulary. I analyzed data from assessments, student reflections, and my own journal reflections to determine the effectiveness of these lessons. Since vocabulary is an integral part of a geometry classroom, the ability to understand math vocabulary is vital for students' understanding of concepts and skills. This study gives better insight into what I can do as a teacher to promote better understanding of concepts in geometry.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2010


  • Education
  • Mathematics

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