Teachers' gaze over space and time in a real-world classroom
Reading students’ faces and their body language, checking their worksheets, and keeping eye contact is a key trait of teacher competence. The new technology of mobile eye-tracking provides researchers with possibilities to explore teaching from the viewpoint of teacher gaze, but also introduces many new method questions. This study had the primary aim to investigate teachers´ attention distribution over space: the number and durations of several types of their gazes, and how their gaze depends on the factors of students´ gender, achievement, and position in the classroom. Results show that teacher gaze was distributed unevenly across both space and time. Teachers looked at the most-watched students 3-8 times more often than at the least-watched ones. Students sitting in the first row and the middle section received significantly more gaze than those sitting outside this zone. All three teachers made more single gaze visits - looking at the students but making no eye contact - than mutual gazes or student material gazes. The three teachers’ gaze distribution also varied substantially from lesson to lesson. Our results are important for understanding teacher behavior in real classrooms, but also point to the relevance of appropriate method design in future classroom studies with eye-tracking.
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