Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Vocabulary, Educational Leadership, Teacher Expert

Major Advisor

Sarah Woulfin

Associate Advisor

Rachael Gabriel

Associate Advisor

Anysia Mayer

Field of Study

Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


Doctor of Education

Open Access

Open Access


Vocabulary acquisition is one of the “Big Five Areas” of reading. Despite a widespread understanding by educators that vocabulary plays a crucial role in a student’s success in education, research has not yet explored educators’ beliefs on vocabulary’s role specifically in early education, which may impact the success of the vocabulary implementation. This study examines educators’ beliefs about vocabulary by examining perceptions of the role of vocabulary while applying the sensemaking theory. Using the qualitative case study method, I examined four administrators, three reading specialists, and nine K-3 teachers across two school districts concerning their reported beliefs and actions about vocabulary. I found that, overall, the participants in this study did, in fact, feel vocabulary plays a significant role in students’ educational success. Although professional resources and conversations were reported to be limited, the participants did report taking action to integrate vocabulary acquisition in classroom settings. As this study dug deep into educators’ beliefs about vocabulary, it became apparent that teachers could be primary catalysts for working toward new, viable, classroom approaches.

Available for download on Thursday, May 01, 2025