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Individual difference on reading ability tested by eye-tracking: from perspective of gender

Zehui Zhan (School of Information Technology in Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China)
Jun Wu (School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China)
Hu Mei (Key Lab for Behavioral Economic Science and Technology, School of Economics and Management, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China)
Qianyi Wu (School of Information Technology in Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China)
Patrick S.W. Fong (Department of Building and Real Estate, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 2 March 2020

Issue publication date: 12 August 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the individual difference on digital reading, by examining the eye-tracking records of male and female readers with different reading ability (including their pupil size, blink rate, fixation rate, fixation duration, saccade rate, saccade duration, saccade amplitude and regression rate).

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 74 participants were selected according to 6,520 undergraduate students’ university entrance exam scores and the follow-up reading assessments. Half of them are men and half are women, with the top 3% good readers and the bottom 3% poor readers, from different disciplines.

Findings

Results indicated that the major gender differences on reading abilities were indicated by saccade duration, regression rate and blink rate. The major effects on reading ability have a larger effect size than the major effect on gender. Among all the indicators that have been examined, blink rate and regression rates are the most sensitive to the gender attribute, while the fixation rate and saccade amplitude showed the least sensitiveness.

Originality/value

This finding could be helpful for user modeling with eye-tracking data in intelligent tutoring systems, where necessary adjustments might be needed according to users’ individual differences. In this way, instructors could be able to provide purposeful guidance according to what the learners had seen and personalized the experience of digital reading.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Natural Science Foundation in China (#61305144), the Major basic research and applied research projects of Guangdong Education Department (#2017WZDXM004), MOE Project of Humanities and Social Sciences (#19YJC880125); National Social Science Foundation of China (#18BGL053).

Citation

Zhan, Z., Wu, J., Mei, H., Wu, Q. and Fong, P.S.W. (2020), "Individual difference on reading ability tested by eye-tracking: from perspective of gender", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 267-283. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-12-2019-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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