Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Topic: Coherence in Writing

Question: What are the effects of coherence on quality of writing?

Answer: “…a strong correlation between essay coherence and quality was found. Results indicate …that coherence is an important factor in holistic ratings of essay quality.”

Quote: “Pedagogical interest in coherence has its roots in the 19th century, its probable beginning in Alexander Bain’s first rule of the paragraph: ‘The bearing of each sentence upon what precedes shall be explicit and unmistakable” (Bain, 1890). By the end of the nineteenth century, coherence along with unity and emphasis, was an established rhetorical principle.”

“Holistic Coherence Scale.”

The following criteria resulted in a 4-rating, “Fully Coherent.”
. Writer clearly identifies the topic

. Writer does not shift topics or digress

. Writer orients the reader by creating a context of situation

. Writer organizes details according to a discernible plan that is sustained throughout the essay

. Writer skillfully uses cohesive ties such as lexical cohesion, conjunction, reference, etc., to link sentences and/or paragraphs together

. Writer often concludes with a statement that gives the reader a definite sense of closure

. Discourse flows smoothly—few or no grammatical and/or mechanical errors interrupt the reading process.

Comment: Note that “cohesion” and “coherence” describe different connections within the composition. “Cohesion” refers to connections within the individual sentence. “Coherence” refers to connections throughout the composition as a whole. RayS.

Title: “Assessing Coherence: A Reanalysis of Essays Written for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1969-1979.” B Bamberg. Research in the Teaching of English (October 1984), 305-319.

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