Reversing the reverse cohesion effect: Good texts can be better for strategic, high-knowledge readers

Tenaha O'Reilly, Danielle S. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Students with low knowledge have been shown to better understand and learn more from more cohesive texts, whereas high-knowledge students have been shown to learn more from lower cohesion texts; this has been called the reverse cohesion effect. This study examines whether students' comprehension skill affects the interaction between text cohesion and their domain knowledge. College students (n = 143) read either a high- or a low-cohesion text and answered text-based and bridging inference questions. The results indicated that the benefit of low-cohesion text was restricted to less skilled, high-knowledge readers, whereas skilled comprehenders with high knowledge benefited from a high-cohesion text. Consistent with McNamara (2001), the interaction of text cohesion and knowledge was restricted to text-based questions. In addition, for low-knowledge readers, the benefits of high-cohesion texts emerged in their responses to bridging inference questions but not text-based questions. The results suggest a more complex view of when and for whom textual cohesion affects comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-152
Number of pages32
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 13 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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