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Can ‘eye’ tell if you are paying attention? The use of mobile eye-trackers to measure academic engagement in the primary-school classroom.

Campbell, Emma (2014) Can ‘eye’ tell if you are paying attention? The use of mobile eye-trackers to measure academic engagement in the primary-school classroom. MA by research thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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Although much research has examined the construct of academic engagement using behavioural measures such as observations and recording video footage of classrooms, there is little taking advantage of the development of technology enabling researchers to measure possible behavioural indicators of visual attention. The technology in question is a device with the capability to track the eye movements of the wearer whilst in their naturalistic environment. With this in mind, a novel idea was proposed, aiming to establish a link between academic engagement, selective attention and eye-tracking. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to test the feasibility of implementing a mobile eye-tracking device in a primary school classroom as a measure of visual attention, and consequently of academic engagement. One classroom at a local school was used for the study, where the gaze patterns of primary-school aged children were collected during sessions of either literacy or numeracy teaching, with the prediction that the naturally-occurring differences between classroom activities (‘teacher instruction’ and ‘classroom discussion’) would affect where children directed their gaze within their classroom. The main difference found was that children were more likely to fixate onto their close peers or their own work during ‘classroom discussion’, compared to aspects of the environment relating to the teaching of instruction, such as a whiteboard display during ‘teacher instruction’. Additionally, findings suggest that school-children generally remain ‘on-task’ during periods of ‘teacher instruction’ and ‘classroom discussion’, however, they still express some level of distractibility during periods of observation. Understanding how children deploy their attention in an academic context has wide implications, from both a developmental and educational perspective. The feasibility of applying alternative methods such as this research paradigm will be addressed, with suggestions for future adaptations.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > Department of Education (York)
Depositing User: Miss Emma Campbell
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2015 14:47
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2015 14:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8644

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