An Exploratory Study to Understand the Phenomena of Eye-Tracking Technology: A Case of the Education Environment

An Exploratory Study to Understand the Phenomena of Eye-Tracking Technology: A Case of the Education Environment

Ahmed Syed, Subrata Chakraborty, Abdul Hafeez-Baig, Anuradha Mandal
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0426-0.ch012
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Technology has played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the formative aspects of learning and teaching in the current digital age. Due to technology, there is an expectation of having customized medicine, customized interaction, and customized formative communication instead of traditional mass reporting approaches. Formative assessment within higher education teaching and learning environments are no exception to such an approach in the 21st century digital environment. Eye-tracking technology in recent years has provided an insight to understand the human eye movements and concentration patterns, which has application in education. Eye-tracking can be used to examine the processes of individuals in their learning to establish how learning contents are delivered and perceived by all involved (e.g., teaching staff, students, and markers). This chapter proposes that critical and specific information from eye-tracking software can lead to tailored educational content to accommodate, customize, and optimize the unique learning methods for an individual student as per their learning habits. This chapter describes the available eye-tracking technologies and their application in educational processes.
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What Is Eye-Tracking?

Eye-tracking is the way of defining the motion of an eye relative to the head (Doherty-Sneddon, 2008). They are the interplay of saccades and fixations movements (Hoffman & Subramaniam, 1995) as shown in Figure 1. Although there are other types of eye movements like pursuit eye movements, where eyes follow a moving target and the action is much slower than saccades. Alternatively, there are the vergence eye movements where eyes are moving inward to fixate a close object or the vestibular eye movements where eyes rotate to compensate for head and body movements (Rashbass & Westheimer, 1961). For eye-tracking information processing in the education environment as a learner or educator, we are interested in the interplay of saccades and fixations i.e. where the eyes move to and how long it stays focused on the item. We can understand this phenomenon better if we try to reveal how students distribute their attention to sections of academic material. It may show, for example, that students do not spend enough time looking at topic sentences or fail to interpret diagrams with text properly. In such cases, by studying the interplay of saccades and fixations, we can gain more insight. Such data analysis could help improving how information is presented for achieving better student focus to significant areas.

Figure 1.

Eye-tracking trajectories consist of fixations and saccades. When a human focuses on something of interest the eye jitters around this area

(Krueger, Koch, & Ertl, 2016)

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