11-01 Using eye tracking and protocol analysis for research on learning and instruction

Description Course

In this master class, students learn what eye tracking and protocol analysis are, how both research methods can be used in research on learning and instruction, and how the data they yield can be analyzed. The master class starts with the theoretical, and technical background of eye tracking and protocol analysis. Next, different ways of using eye tracking and protocol analysis in research are presented. Moreover, we describe which research questions can be answered with eye tracking and protocol analysis and give practical advice on how to set up a study using eye tracking and/or protocol analysis. Finally, different ways of analyzing both data sources will be discussed. All parts of the course will be accompanied by practical assignments that students have to carry out on their own.

Course objectives

After completing this master class, students will be able to design, plan and, carry out a simple study that uses eye tracking and/or protocol analysis, as well as analyze, and interpret the respective data


Knowledge of:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research methodology
  • Statistical analyses (ANOVA, regression analysis)
  • English language skills

An interest in (applying) eye tracking research or protocol analysis


  • ICO lecturers: Bjorn de Koning (EUR), Halszka Jarodzka (OU), Ludo van Meeuwen (OU), Jeroen Janssen (UU)
  • Guest lecturer: Prof. Kenneth Holmqvist, Lund University, Sweden


The course is composed of five meetings (2 X 2-day, final day). The meetings contain alternating entities of presentations by the lecturers, group work, self-studies, and presentations of the students, which will be discussed within the entire group.


The assessment will consist of three partial products, namely an assignment prior to the first session, an assignment between the two 2-day sessions, and a final assignment after the second 2 day session.

For the first assignment, students prepare a short presentation (2-3 slides) about their own research. They also have to put forward a reasoning on how they can use eye tracking and protocol analysis in their own research based on the provided literature. The presentations are discussed within the entire group. In the second assignment, students are asked to formulate a specific research question and one or more matching hypotheses as well as to provide an operationalization of eye tracking and/or protocol analysis variables of interest for a (fictitious) study. The assignment is both handed in on paper (1 A4) and will be discussed within the entire group (1 slide). The third assignment consists of writing a comprehensive paper or research proposal about either an eye tracking or a protocol analysis study (3000-4000 words). The paper should contain a theoretical background, description of the methods, and planned statistical analyses for the study. It is important to note that strong emphasis should be put on literature and methodology.

Both the quality of the assignments and students presence during all five meetings determine whether or not a certificate for successful completion of the master class will be handed out.



  • Van Gog, T. & Scheiter, K. (2010). Eye tracking as a tool to study and enhance multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction, 20, 95-99.
  • Mayer, R. E. (2010). Unique contributions of eye-tracking research to the study of learning with graphics. Learning and Instruction, 20, 167-171.
  • Hyönä, J. (2010). The use of eye movements in the study of multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction, 20, 172-176.
  • Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 372-422.
  • Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1980). Verbal reports as data. Psychological Review, 87, 215-251.
  • Chi, M. T. H. (1997). Quantifying qualitative analyses of verbal data: A practical guide. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6, 271-315.
  • Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15, 1277-1288.
  • Strijbos, J. W., Martens, R. L., Prins, F. J., & Jochems, W. M. G. (2006). Content analysis: What are they talking about? Computers & Education, 46, 29-48.

Studying learning processes using eye tracking (read at least two papers on this topic):

  • Holsanova, J., Holmberg, N., & Holmqvist, K. (2009). Reading information graphics: The role of spatial contiguity and dual attentional guidance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1215-1226.
  • Kostons, D., Van Gog, T., & Paas, F. (2009). How do I do? Investigating effects of expertise and performance-process records on self-assessment. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1256-1265.
  • Louwerse, M. M., Graesser, A. C., McNamara, D. S., & Lu, S. (2009). Embodied conversational agents as conversational partners. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1244-1255.
  • Schwonke, R., Berthold, K., & Renkl, A. (2009). How multiple external representations are used and how they can be made more useful. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1217-1243.
  • Boucheix, J.-M., & Lowe, R. K. (2010). An eye-tracking comparison of external pointing cues and internal continuous cues in learning with complex animations, Learning and Instruction, 20, 123135.
  • Canham, M., & Hegarty, M. (2010). Effects of knowledge and display design on comprehension of complex graphics, Learning and Instruction, 20, 155166.
  • Schmidt-Weigand, F., Kohert, A., & Glowalla, U. (2010). A closer look at split visual attention in system- and self-paced instruction in multimedia learning, Learning and Instruction, 20, 100110.
  • Meyer, K., Rasch, T., & Schnotz, W. (2010). Effects of animation's speed of presentation on perceptual processing and learning, Learning and Instruction, 20, 136145.

Studying learning process using protocol analysis:

  • Craig, S. D., Chi, M. T. H., VanLehn, K. (2009). Improving classroom learning by collaboratively observing human tutoring videos while problem solving. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 779-789.
  • De Smet, M., Van Keer, H., De Wever, B., Valcke, M. (2010). Cross-age peer tutors in asynchronous discussion groups: Exploring the impact of three types of tutor training on patterns in tutor support and on tutor characteristics. Computers & Education, 54. 1167-1181.
  • Guiller, J., Durndell, A., & Ross, A. (2008). Peer interaction and critical thinking: Face-to-face or online discussion? Learning and Instruction, 18, 187-200.
  • Strijbos, J. W., Martens, R. L., Jochems, J. W. G., & Broers, N. J. (2007). The effect of functional roles on perceived group efficiency during computer-supported collaborative learning: A matter of triangulation. Computers in Human Behavior, 23, 353-380.
  • Webb, N. M., Nemer, K. M., & Ing, M. (2006). Small-group reflections: Parallels between teacher discourse and student behavior in peer-directed groups. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 63-119.
  • Wittwer, J., Nückles, M., Landmann, N., & Renkl, A. (2010). Can tutors be supported in giving effective explanations? Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 74, 89.

Dates and location

February 2 and 3 (New dates!!!), March 10, 11 and 31, 2011. Location is Zalencentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht.


To register, please go to our registration form. Deadline for registration is January 1, 2011.
The maximum number of participants for this course is 16 (premise is that use can be made of the eye trackers of the OU and UU)