EFG - 09

Eye-tracking for teaching and learning in the wild: developing solutions for educational research together

This EFG is led by Markku Hannula.


Eye movement research has enjoyed long-standing scholarly attention. However, in real-world settings and during group interaction eye movement research is in its infancy, although rapidly expanding. Methodological guidance has been mostly limited to highly technical commentaries on mobile eye-tracking as a research tool.

Until recent years, a major challenge in moving into real-world classroom research has been the lack of affordable and reliable equipment for mobile eye tracking. More fundamentally, the advanced methods for data pre-processing and analysis developed for laboratory settings often do not work in open research arrangements. As a result, gaze coding demands a lot of time and is also error prone.

Another challenge in moving from laboratories to real-world environments has been that the research designs have to be adapted. Numerous controlled experiments and repeated measures are difficult to organize in real-life contexts. On the other hand, purely descriptive, qualitative studies lack power to generalize.

The aim of this EFG is to focus on identifying promising research questions, developing research designs and methods for mobile ET in educational contexts. The MathTrack team in Helsinki, for example, has already developed methods for mobile gaze tracking, e.g. using visual markers to annotate gaze targets, computing a measure for gaze synchrony to identify joint attention, and synthesizing gaze behavior as visual graphs. Through collaboration with other researchers working with mobile gaze data, these methods can be further developed and shared with other research groups.

Mobile gaze tracking facilitates addressing numerous research questions that had not been possible to approach using static eye-tracking or other more established approaches. Gaze is essential for interaction and observation in out-of-school learning. However, limitations of the method (e.g. manual coding, lack of control, personal and contextual variations in gaze behaviour) need to be addressed when designing research projects using mobile gaze tracking.

Team Members

Markku S. Hannula

EFG Facilitator

University of Helsinki, Finland

Nora McIntyre

Team Member

University of Cambridge, UK

Maike Schindler

Team Member

University of Cologne, Germany

Halszka Jarodska

Team Member

Open University of the Netherlands

Irene T. Skuballa

Team Member

Open University of the Netherlands

Achim Lilienthal

Team Member

Örebro University, Sweden

Gregor Torkar

Team Member

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Anna Shvarts

Team Member

Utrecht University, the Netherlands