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Studying viewing and learning behavior in video with an eye tracker

Video is increasingly used as an instructional modality in education. Therefore it becomes more important to improve the learning process of students from video lessons. However, students are traditionally instructed to enhance their learning skills from text rather than from video. Sometimes, the only way to interact with the video is through the control buttons of a media player. This gives students only a few standard options to interact (start and stop) with the video, hardly supporting the learning process of students.

In our experiment, we used an eye tracker to test a new model that addresses both the stylistic and strategic components of students’ viewing behaviors. The model is based on metacognition and recent notions on the use of learning styles in education. We applied this model on a group of 115 students to see whether the learning effects differ among students with different viewing behaviors.
The students watched several instructional videos in a controlled environment (usability lab with an eye tracker). Every other student (in the intervention condition) was made aware of other possible viewing behaviors in order to enhance learning effects. A pre- post-retention test was carried out in order to calculate learning effects. We investigated whether students with strategic components in their viewing behavior attain higher learning effects.
Results show that an awareness instruction helps students with a medium level of prior knowledge in attaining higher learning effects. Students with a low level of prior knowledge do not seem to benefit. In fact, their retention scores are worse. Learning from video and showing other viewing behavior at the same time seems difficult for them.

In the oral presentation, some examples - recorded with an eye tracker - will be shown of viewing behaviors. A large proportion of the experimental subjects exhibited the strategic viewing behavior. So after watching the video in one pass, they watched specific parts of the video again. Some of them used the mouse as marking point on the progress bar to help them remembering the segments to watch again. The eye tracker also revealed metacognitive aspects of learning behavior.
Our planned future research targets the specification and implementation of additional operator buttons in order to diversify one’s study sequence using the media player. In this way we can implement our findings to help students with strategic viewing more effectively.