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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

Short sentences, easy to read? Effects of connectives and layout on text comprehension by beginning readers

From the book Referential and Relational Discourse Coherence in Adults and Children

  • Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul


The use of coherence markers, such as the connectives because and but, and presenting texts in an integrated layout support the text comprehension of students in secondary education (Land 2009; Van Silfhout 2014). For children in the early years of primary education, however, the picture is less clear. Children show a gradual increase in their ability to benefit from connectives in texts (Irwin and Pulver 1984), and making return sweeps at the end of lines is a relatively new skill. In a reading experiment among children in grade 2, we tested the effects of layout and the presence of connectives on children’s text comprehension. It is shown that 7- and 8-year-olds benefit from connectives, but that layout (presenting sentences with or without line breaks) does not affect text comprehension. However, children perceive texts with an integrated layout as easier. A corpusbased study revealed that books designed for children in grades 1-3 often do not show such a layout, and that fragmented layouts are predominant in texts for grades 1 and 2. Possible explanations and implications for the design of educational materials for beginning readers are discussed.

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