The impact of connectives and anaphoric expressions on expository discourse comprehension
This study focuses on the impact of linguistic markers of coherence on the comprehension of expository discourse. The impact of such markers on comprehension (i.e., off-line) is a highly controversial topic in current studies, especially for connectives for which a facilitating as well as an interfering role has been demonstrated. As a matter of fact, it seems that connectives facilitate the comprehension process in that they improve the reading process, but that they do not increase comprehension of the text. It might even be possible that they ease the reading task in such a way that they provide the reader with the 'impression' of having understood the text instead of a real understanding.
The objective of the experiment was to test this far-reaching hypothesis for the use of connectives in expository texts. We wanted to determine the impact of causal connectives such as because ('parce que') and so ('donc') on comprehension and on the feeling of understanding, contrasting it with the impact of anaphoric expressions. Contrary to previous results, our experiment shows that the presence of connectives actually improved comprehension while it did not have an impact on the perception of understanding.
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