charge enonciative dans trois genres de texts expositifs” (“The Processes of. Enunciation in Three Types of Expository Text”) (Itziar Plazaola. Le texte expositif, quant à lui, est une production dans laquelle les locuteurs créent une structure thématique (Boscolo, ; Britton, ) et fait appel à des . Les titres et intertitres sont des dispositifs de signalisation fréquemment utilisés dans les textes expositifs. De nombreuses recherches réalisées en psychologie.

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Revue de linguistique, psycholinguistique et informatique. A journal of linguistics, psycholinguistics and computational linguistics.

Titles and headings are commonly used signaling devices in expository texts. Researchers in cognitive and educational psychology have demonstrated several important effects of headings and titles on text processing: We present a theory of signaling devices that provides a detailed analysis of variation in titles and headings and generates predictions concerning their effects. We discuss the implications of our analyses for research on titles and headings and summarize recent research findings that illustrate the validity of a central component of our analyses.

Finally, we propose some future research directions integrating insights from linguistics for the study of how headings and titles affect text processing. Nous discutons les implications de ce cadre pour la recherche sur les titres et intertitres. An expository text of any length typically has a complex structure that poses substantial challenges to readers. Recognizing the demands of complex exposition, authors will often use a variety of writing devices to signal text organization and important content.

The espositif of headings, for tete, can support readers by identifying major texfe and ideas, by emphasizing the structure of the text, and by serving as labels that can support access to sections within the text Waller, In fact, there is a relatively extensive empirical literature in psychology that generally supports the hypothesis that signals may help processing of expository text Lorch, In this paper, we briefly review tete relevant exposigif, then we provide a critique of the exposotif literature, arguing that our understanding of how headings influence text processing would benefit from a linguistically-based analysis of headings.

We briefly present a general theory of signaling devices that provides such an analysis and we summarize some recent cognitive research demonstrating the validity and utility of the analysis. Finally, we address the question of epxositif future research directions are suggested by our framework. Two lines of research expositiff the topic can be identified. If principles of heading construction and placement can be identified that consistently improve learning from textbooks then authors can write more effectively to the benefit of student learning.

Within cognitive psychology, headings have been used as a means to manipulate context in order to investigate effects of global context on comprehension and memory processes. In a prototypical experiment, participants read a text with headings or the same text without headings then receive a test of exposituf memory for content.

However, this null result is not surprising because headings conventionally communicate information about text organization and recognition memory tests are often insensitive to organizational factors. The picture is different when memory is assessed by simply asking readers to recall all that they can remember from the text.

When the research on headings is combined with similar research on the effects of other structure-emphasizing signaling devices e.

The general strategy followed in this research was to construct texts tetxe competing themes and manipulate the title of the text to emphasize one of the two themes, then observe the effects on free recall.

The general strategy in this research has been to construct texts containing vague referents then manipulate the title to alter the context for interpreting the referents. This research shows that a title influences attention to ambiguous words that are specifically related to the title. Their influence is achieved via at least three mechanisms.

First, when headings are used to highlight the organization of topics in a well-structured text, they lead to better memory for that organization; in turn, better memory for text organization leads to better trxte recall.

Finally, by establishing a context, headings can influence the interpretation of text content by causing readers to use relevant background knowledge to guide comprehension. Thus, the psychological literature presents an informative, coherent body of results on the effects of titles and headings. These shortcomings limit the theoretical and practical impact of the research. There are even examples of studies that do not provide examples of the headings they actually used e.


This statement is a rough definition of headings that corresponds well to the implicit definition that most researchers appear to use, but it is demonstrably inadequate as a general definition of titles and headings.

These examples do not state the topic or theme of a section of text; rather, they provide information about the function of a section of text. Ho-Dac, Jacques and Rebeyrolle approach this plurality of functional dimensions wxpositif texts by referring to the three metafunctions which, in systemic functional linguistics, organize language resources Halliday, Many titles and headings expositir to work mostly within this third component: From this perspective, psychological researchers appear to have taken a simplistic view of titles and headings, ignoring their capacity to fulfil and possibly combine several functions.

Expositkf empirical literature should therefore be critically revisited, as it may overgeneralize findings which apply only to certain types of headings.

Even within the category of topic-identifying headings, it is possible to identify several dimensions of variation in headings.


One potentially important dimension concerns the visual properties of headings; headings vary in their typographical and spatial properties. Many studies fail to provide information about the visual properties of their stimuli. This is unfortunate because it is likely that the titles and headings used in different experiments vary on this dimension in ways that might influence processing. Therefore, variation in the visual properties of titles and headings may be associated with variation in their effects on text processing.

Some headings provide only the major referent for a section of text. The heading provides a context for integrating subsequent information, but leaves it to the reader to identify or construct the main points of the section. Assuming that the heading is, in fact, an accurate statement of the main point of the section, the reader is relieved of the ambiguity and work of identifying or constructing expositig conclusion.

Again, previous investigations generally fail to provide information about this potentially important source of variation in their text construction. Let us contrast two situations. The control version of the text omits the headings but retains the topic sentences and therefore retains the same information content as the experimental version of the text.

Texte expositif by Laura Albella Cubedo on Prezi Next

The function of the headings is to foreground specific content that is also available in the text. It is likely that text processing is different under these circumstances than under conditions where headings are redundant with specific text content.

A comparison of a text with vs. The nature and extent of the effect on processing of manipulating headings in this way almost surely depends on exactly what information is lost when the headings are omitted. Not only is it the case that conclusions are restricted to topic-identifying headings, but there has also not been any careful examination of how their visual realization, informativeness, and relationship to text content may influence text processing.

To take one simple example, consider an experiment in which memory for a text is compared for a version of the text that contains topic-identifying headings and a control version of the text that omits the headings and the white space inserted to set off the headings from the body of the text.

Are differences in performance on the two text versions attributable to the fact that the control text omitted topic-identifying headings? Or are performance differences due to the loss of segmentation cues provided in part by the white space? For example, an educator interested in text design might want to make recommendations about how to construct headings to facilitate learning from text. Some relevant questions are: What types of information should be included in the headings e.

How should the headings relate to the content they signal? What should the visual properties of the headings be? In short, the types of variation we have noted are very relevant to text design, but we have not yet designed research to answer these questions. To pursue such questions, we require a broader conception of headings and a systematic analysis of variation in headings. In the next section, we summarize a general theory of text signals that addresses these goals.


SARA is a theory intended both as an analysis of signaling devices and as a framework for understanding how signaling devices influence text processing.

As one important type of signaling device, headings are addressed within the SARA framework. In this section, we briefly present the major components of SARA with particular attention to its treatment of headings.

The text-based analysis of wxpositif defines signaling and provides a structured approach to characterizing a signaling device along several dimensions. The reader-based component relates the text-based dimensions to reader variables to predict signaling effects on text processing.

The goal of TAM is to supply a semantic analysis and a logical model of text formatting exppositif. It approaches this task by building on the notion of metalanguage Harris, and and key concepts taken from Speech Act Theory Austin, ; Grice, ; Searle, and One central claim in TAM is that text formatting properties are meaningful because they are reduced forms of metasentences.

In contrast to text sentences that refer to the world, metasentences refer to the text itself.

A textual act refers to actions concerning the text and its organization. An important implication of these claims is that for any signaling device, one may re-construct its underlying metasentence and extract useful information from it.

Thus, TAM provides a foundation for both a definition of signals and an analysis of their key properties. Within this framework, headings and titles may be defined as text objects that are typographically and spatially distinguished from the rest of the text and expoaitif minimal function is to label another text object.

In the case of titles, the wxpositif text object is an entire text; in the case of headings, the labeled text object is a text part e. This definition is consistent with those of Virbel and Genette According to Genettetitles may have four different functions: However, as in our definition, the only mandatory function that a title must fulfil is the labeling function.

Adopting the principle that a heading may be reformulated as a metasentence because a heading is a realization of expoxitif metasentence provides SARA with a means to describe titles and headings and, more generally, any signaling device. Based on this approach to understanding the purposes of signaling devices, SARA proposes that signals may be analyzed along four dimensions:. Moreover, as exposltif have likely implications for text processing, they are used in the reader-based component in order to generate textw concerning their potential effects on text processing.

The question of task relevance is an entirely reader-based consideration: Textr refers to the ease with which readers can use the information. It should depend upon the other three dimensions of signals: As an example, information about the organization of topics in a text is more accessible if it is communicated by an advance outline than if it is communicated by a system of headings interspersed in a text because the outline relieves textee reader of gathering all the information together.

That is, what are the information functions of signals?

SARA hypothesizes that any signaling device serves one or more of seven distinguishable information functions:. Given our definition of headings, all headings demarcate text sections and provide a unique label for each section. In addition, all conventional uses of headings appear to involve emphasis of the heading e.

Many headings are used to identify the topics of the sections they head. As we have already noted, however, not all headings are txte. Rather, headings are sometimes used to identify only the function of a section e. It is possible to combine the two functions, too. Headings may explicitly communicate the sequential organization of the sections of a text; in fact, headings sometimes consist solely of numbers at the start of each ld text section e.

These variations in headings lend themselves to different cognitive functions and can therefore be expected to influence text processing, as we will see in the next section of the text. An analysis of the information function of diverse headings.