Vivid educational texts: Engaging students via narrative and voice elements

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


Educational textbooks play an essential role in the transfer of knowledge in present-day Dutch primary and secondary education. It is not self-evident, however, that students understand these textbooks; many Dutch students find their educational texts too difficult to understand and/or consider them boring. Given that text comprehension is the result of complex interactions between reader, task, and text characteristics, its optimization can be approached in more than one way. This dissertation focuses on two text characteristics that have been argued to make educational texts more vivid, thereby enhancing students’ engagement and text comprehension: the presence of narrative and voice elements. The aim of this dissertation is to 1) define narrative and voice elements within the educational domain (WHAT), 2) describe their application in current Dutch educational textbooks (HOW), and 3) find out the rationales behind the use of these elements (WHY). These three aspects are investigated using a variety of research methods, including corpus-based analyses, focus groups with educational publishers, and a reading experiment. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of vividness-increasing strategies in educational texts, and lays the foundation for solid future empirical research into the effectiveness of narrative and voice elements in the educational domain.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Hoeken, Hans, Primary supervisor
  • Sanders, Ted, Supervisor
  • Evers - Vermeul, Jacqueline, Co-supervisor
Award date30 Mar 2022
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Print ISBNs978-94-6093-403-2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2022


  • educational texts
  • expository texts
  • narrative texts
  • educational content
  • vividness
  • narrative elements
  • voice elements
  • text comprehension
  • text appreciation
  • engagement


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