Edited by Ted J.M. Sanders and Leo Lentz
[Information Design Journal 15:3] 2007
► pp. 199–213
Discourse cohesion in text and tutorial dialogue
Discourse cohesion is presumably an important facilitator of comprehension when individuals read texts and hold conversations. This study investigated components of cohesion and language in different types of discourse about Newtonian physics: A textbook, textoids written by experimental psychologists, naturalistic tutorial dialoguebetween expert human tutors and college students, andAutoTutor tutorial dialogue between a computer tutor and students (AutoTutor is an animated pedagogical agent that helps students learn about physics by holding conversations in natural language). We analyzed the four types of discourse with Coh-Metrix, a software tool that measures discourse on different components of cohesion, language, and readability. The cohesion indices included co-reference, syntactic and semantic similarity, causal cohesion, incidence of cohesion signals (e.g., connectives, logical operators), and many other measures. Cohesion data were quite similar for the two forms of discourse in expository monologue (textbooks and textoids) and for the two types of tutorial dialogue (i.e., students interacting with human tutors and AutoTutor), but very different between the discourse of expository monologue and tutorial dialogue. Coh-Metrix was also able to detect subtle differences in the language and discourse of AutoTutor versus human tutoring.