Department of English

10.3.13 – MAPC Students Present Eye Tracking Research at ABC Conference

Second-year MAPC student Brian Gaines and MAPC alum Heather (Dunn) Christiansen (along with MAPC faculty member Dr. Tharon Howard) will be presenting their research findings at the International Association of Business Communicators conference in New Orleans later this month. Brian and Heather (who is now an RCID doctoral student) are conducting exciting new research in eye tracking under the leadership of Dr. Howard. Heather and Brian are studying the human eye’s navigational patterns through two specifically selected websites. The two students began their research in July of 2013.

Eye Tracking Research in ActionHeather and Brian are using the 2013 Webby Awards to find two websites from the “Best Navigation” category to be used in their eye tracking study. The students are testing the navigation of the human eye based off of two theories: Jacob Nelson’s Theory of the ‘F’ Pattern and Rosenblatt’s Theory of the Golden Triangle. The research involves participants wearing an eye tracking device that follows the movement of their gaze across various pages of the websites selected. Brian reports that findings from the ongoing research have been surprising, and is enthusiastic about what eye tracking means for the future. He says, “This research is interesting because if we know what people are looking at on the web, or how they are looking, then technical communicators, user experience designers, and even book publishers will be able to better serve the user.” Similarly, Heather sees the research as a way to get MAPC and RCID students alike excited about usability and user experience design projects. She says, “The ability to conduct research that matches my interests while at school has been a huge opportunity for me. Working in this lab has been amazing, and I hope that our work encourages more of this kind of learning within the MAPC and RCID communities.”

In the picture to the right, courtesy of Brian Gaines, Heather is shown assisting a participant with the eye tracking device.

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