Effect of Alignment on Text Cohesion in the Continuation Task

  •  Lin Jiang    
  •  Xin Xu    


A continuation task provides learners with a text with its ending removed and requires them to complete it through writing in a most coherent and logical way. The current study investigated (a) whether the continuation task had a positive effect on text cohesion and (b) whether texts produced by pairs exhibited higher cohesion than those produced by individual learners. A total of 80 college students were randomly assigned to one of three task conditions: 1) 40 students working in pairs in a continuation task; 2) 20 working individually in a continuation task; and 3) 20 working individually in a picture writing task. Text cohesion was analyzed by using three indices from Coh-metrix: Argument Overlap, Latent Semantic Analysis, and Causal Cohesion. Moreover, the collaborative dialogue and think-aloud protocols were collected and transcribed for identifying language-related episodes (LREs). The results showed that learners in Condition 1 produced the highest text cohesion while those in Conditions 3 the lowest. Furthermore, learners in Condition 1 produced more cohesion-related LREs, especially proportionally more correctly resolved LREs than those in Conditions 2 and 3. The implications of these findings from the perspective of alignment are discussed.

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