Eye-tracking the Neuroactivity of Distraction in Online Learning Environments

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2020)
Title: Eye-tracking the Neuroactivity of Distraction in Online Learning Environments
Stream: Adult, Lifelong & Distance Learning
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Angelicque Tucker Blackmon, Innovative Learning Center, United States


The Tobii Eyetracking system was used to measure students’ fixation and gaze while solving chemistry word problems in an online environment. Afterwards, students completed a self-regulation survey. Self-regulation is an essential aspect of student learning and academic performance. In this study, data were collected from nine students in a General Chemistry course where two conditions were measured: time and group type. Performance on a nomenclature test revealed that students in the experimental group scored higher on the post-test than students in the control group. A time by condition (experiment vs. control) mixed measures ANOVA was conducted on students’ ratings of their self-regulation competence. Self-regulation is a composite of several psychosocial learning variables. It includes a measure of cognition, motivation, and emotional aspects of learning (anxiety, frustration, enthusiasm) (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011; Panadero, 2017). Self-regulation strategies are associated with distinct patterns of visual attention. Findings show that self-regulation scores did not vary by condition or by time. The experimental group scored somewhat higher than the control group, but this difference was slight. Overall, both groups perceived that they were prone to distractions. However, students in the experimental group appeared to override the tendency to become distracted exhibiting higher performance on the word problem quiz. We theorize that the blended learning environment served as a moderator for students prone to distractions. Objectively measuring distraction is useful in enhancing online learning experiences to help students regulate their emotional state and redirect their focus within the span of seconds while in an online learning.