The Validation of Eye-Tracking Behaviors of Experts and Novices While Viewing Multiple Representations of Chemistry Concepts

Student Author(s)

Gracie Lewellyn
Richard Edwards

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Justin M. Shorb, Chemistry

Document Type


Event Date



Education research has often interrogated the differences in mental schema between Experts and Novices in a particular discipline. These mental schema, or organizations of ideas and thoughts within a person's brain, can give insight into which connections are essential for complete understanding of a field of study. For instance, in chemistry, it has been found that experts more readily connect chemical concepts visualized in macroscopic, symbolic, and sub-microscopic representations. This triplet relationship has been studied repeatedly in the literature, but requires active think-aloud studies or a series of tests which involve a certain extent of non-natural activity. Eye-tracking has been increasingly used in educational research in order to gain insight into how we interpret information in a passive observational manner. Making use of the triplet relationship, an experiment has been conducted to replicate the expert/novice study conducted by Kozma and Russell in 1997 by using eye-tracking while having participants perform a sorting task. Similar results for the sorting task will validate the interpretation of the eye-tracking analysis methods for future use.

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