Searching for Explanations in Science Trade Books: What can we learn from Coh-Metrix?

Laura B. Smolkin, Erin M. McTigue, Yi fen Y. Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Given the importance of explanation in science texts for children, this research explored Coh-Metrix as a tool for rapidly determining the presence of explanations in science trade books. Variables from Coh-Metrix specifically addressing cause (causal content, causal cohesion, and positive causal connectives) were correlated with an existing, high-inference causal variable from previous research. Moderate correlations were found for causal cohesion and positive causal connectives (both r(18) = 0.46, p < 0.05); no correlation was found with causal content. Somewhat stronger correlations were found with two, co-referential Coh-Metrix variables, argument overlap and stem overlap. These findings suggest that Coh-Metrix may be used for an initial screening to determine if a science text has the necessary conditions to be explanatory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1384
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Causal explanation
  • Cohesion
  • Discourse
  • Explanation
  • Science trade books
  • Scientific literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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