Examining how teachers study a multimedia model of reading development: Do eye movement patterns affect what teachers learn?

Examining how teachers study a multimedia model of reading development: Do eye movement patterns affect what teachers learn?

First Author: Pamela Beach -- Queen's University
Additional authors/chairs: 
John Kirby; Pamela McDonald; Jen McConnel
Keywords: Reading development, Teacher Knowledge, Teacher education, Eye movements
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: To use eye-tracking methodology to examine how elementary teachers study a visual model of reading development (called the reading pyramid) and accompanying text, and whether particular eye-movement patterns affect what they learn.
Method: Seven experienced teachers and 11 education students from Ontario, Canada participated. Participants performed the following tasks: 1. pre-test of literacy knowledge; 2. cognitive task—participants were asked to study the model and text while thinking about how different literacy components work together to support children’s reading development (a Tobii Pro X3-120 eye tracker was used to record eye movements); 3. transfer and retention test. Independent-samples t-tests were conducted to examine group differences in fixations and pre- and post-task scores. Pearson correlations were computed to determine relationships between variables. Scan paths were analyzed qualitatively.
Results: Both groups fixated longer and more often on the pyramid than on the text. Additionally, experienced teachers fixated significantly longer on the pyramid and looked at the pyramid more frequently than the students. Time spent on specific AOIs (e.g., related to phonemic awareness, concepts of print) positively correlated with pre and post-task scores. Recordings of experienced teachers more often showed semantically-related transitions (integrative processing) between the two presentation modes.
Conclusions: While exploratory in nature, these findings suggest that experienced teachers exhibit eye-movement patterns that are more conducive to learning about reading development. Where teachers focus their attention and the paths of their visual behavior can inform the design of material that supports education students’ understanding of how children learn to read.