Connectives as processing signals: How students benefit in processing narrative and expository texts

Gerdineke van Silfhout, Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul, Ted Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many young readers fail to construct a proper mental text representation, often due to a lack of higher-order skills such as making integrative and inferential links. In an eye-tracking experiment among 141 Dutch eighth graders, we tested whether coherence markers (moreover, after, because) improve students’ online processing and their off-line comprehension of narrative and expository texts. Eye-tracking results show that connectives lead to faster processing of subsequent information as well as shorter rereading times of previous text information. Connectives also trigger readers to make regressions to preceding information. These findings indicate that connectives function as immediate “processing instructions.” Furthermore, all students performed better on local comprehension tasks (i.e., bridging inference questions) after reading texts containing connectives than after reading texts without these markers. These findings apply to both text types and to all students, regardless of reading proficiency. This study highlights the importance of comprehensible texts in which implicit coherence relations are avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-76
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • text comprehension
  • connectives
  • eye-tracking
  • narrative texts
  • expository texts


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