Using eye-tracking technology to explore online learner interactions

Stickler, Ursula; Smith, Bryan and Shi, Lijing (2016). Using eye-tracking technology to explore online learner interactions. In: Caws, Catherine and Hamel, Marie-Josée eds. Language-Learner Computer Interactions: Theory, methodology and CALL applications. Language Studies, Science and Engineering (2). John Benjamins, pp. 163–186.




This chapter sets out to introduce the use of eye-tracking to investigate language learners’ interaction with computers. By recording the gaze focus of a computer user engaged in an on-screen task, eye-tracking aims to provide information on cognitive processes. This allows the researcher to speculate about what learners are thinking while engaged in, for example, synchronous online language learning. After briefly presenting the history and different fields of eye-tracking research, the authors present two recent eye-tracking studies in SCMC (Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication). The potentials and challenges of eye-tracking for researching language learning are discussed, as well as the methodological options of quantitative and mixed method studies.The last section encourages novice researchers to carry out their own eye-tracking projects, reflecting on methodological, practical and pragmatic issues.

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