Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters (RAVE)

Team Members (listed alphabetically)

Isabel Beck, Senior Scientist, Professor Emerita

Margaret McKeown, Senior Scientist

Cheryl Sandora, Research Associate



Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters (RAVE) is a vocabulary intervention for middle school students that teaches words from Coxhead’s Academic Word List (AWL). Development of RAVE was supported by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences (IES). RAVE instruction is based on consensus principles for effective instruction derived over several decades: presentation of definitional and contextual information, encounters in multiple contexts, and active processing. RAVE was implemented in sixth and seventh grades and found to have significant effects on growth of word knowledge, speed of access to word meanings, and comprehension.

A central feature of RAVE is use of authentic contexts drawn from print and internet sources. Contexts for target words were selected to display how the words are typically used in various domains. The contexts serve as a starting point for discussing similarities and differences in what a word means and how it is used within different contexts. In RAVE, interactions using target words are designed to reveal various nuances of meaning so that the word can be understood in new contexts that a learner encounters. Definitions, developed to present a core meaning for each word, also are presented to introduce each word.

Active processing is embodied in RAVE through activities that ask students interact with the words, such as to make decisions about word use or to develop contexts in response to questions such as: "What should be the criteria for choosing a planet to live on? Why?" "What might be the consequences of sending a text message to the wrong person?"

Related publications:

McKeown, M.G., Crosson, A. C. &, Beck, I. L. (July 2014) Enhancing word knowledge and comprehension through an academic word vocabulary intervention. Paper presented at Society for Scientific Studies of Reading Conference, Santa Fe, NM.

McKeown, M. G., Crosson, A. C., Artz, N. J., Sandora, C., & Beck, I. L. (2013). In the Media: Expanding Students' Experience with Academic Vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 45-53.

McKeown, M.G., Crosson, A. C., Beck, I. L., Artz, N. J., Sandora, C., & Moore, D. (April 2014). Word Knowledge and Comprehension Outcomes for the Second Year of Implementation of an Academic word Vocabulary Intervention. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia.

Crosson, A. C. & McKeown, M.G. (April 2013). Middle School Learners' Use of Morphological Decomposition to Infer Word Meaning In Context. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco.

Crosson, A. C. McKeown, M.G., Beck, I.L., & Ward, A. K. (April 2013). An Innovative Approach to Assessing Depth of Knowledge of Academic Words. In Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge: Results and Implications of Validation and Intervention Studies. Symposium presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco.