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Developing a Methodology for Probing Student Comprehension of Organic Chemistry Using Eye Tracking Technology

Photo of speaker Nathan Thacker standing by a fume hood in an organic chemistry lab
Nathan Thacker
Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry
University of Georgia
iSTEM Building 2, Room 1218
Organic Seminar

Eye tracking technology has been used to study comprehension through visual processing in a variety of fields, but has seen a significantly increased use in chemistry in the past decade. Organic chemistry in particular uses unique visual representations to convey information, which could make information obtained by eye tracking particularly relevant for understanding student comprehension of the material being discussed. While this has been explored some, all previous studies use small groups (n<40) of selected students to answer questions related to a single, specific topic.

This work outlines the development of a new methodology for using eye tracking technology to improve organic chemistry education through a process of question design, implementation, data analysis, and potential applications on large samples (n=199) of students. This study also highlights the use of multiple topics in eye tracking studies, with a total of 12 topics covered throughout this research. In addition to providing a framework for future studies, this work also provides unique insights into what students understand about these particular topics, such as reactions between organic acids and bases. This work provides concluding suggestions for advancing these studies both within the context of the work we have done and through applying what has been learned to the organic chemistry classroom.

Google Eye Tracking data diagram

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