Causal Connectives, Cohesion, and Text Complexity in The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg


Summer 8-11-2014



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Bonnie Swierzbin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kathryn Heinze

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Rachel Kaster


Fourth Grade students are at a pivotal point in their reading development; English learners especially face challenges in shifting from learning how to read to reading to learn. Moreover, the Common Core State Standards call for more complex texts in the reading curriculum. Text complexity goes beyond surface-level features of text yet many traditional readability measures do not. In this text analysis, a computer-based tool called Coh-Metrix is used, together with a qualitative analysis, to determine how causal connectives and logical operators are used to drive the plot and theme of The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg. Findings show the text was easy according to traditional readability formulas but complex as measured by Coh-Metrix. Author choices such as genre also played a role in the linguistic complexity of the text. It is recommended that teachers consider cohesion when determining text complexity; Coh-Metrix is one way to accomplish this task.


ESL/ ELLs, Reading

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