Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Luo, L., Peteranetz, M. S., Flanigan, A. E., Witte, A. L., & Kiewra, K. A. Eyes never lie: Eye-tracking technology reveals how students study displays. The Nebraska Educator 1 (2014), pp. 60-77.


Copyright © 2014 University of Nebraska-Lincoln


This study investigated the achievement benefits of studying different forms of verbal displays and explored how students study these displays using eye-tracking technology. Sixty-eight college students were assigned randomly to one of four display groups: text, outline, simple matrix, and signaled matrix. One at a time, students wearing an eye-tracking apparatus studied their one-page display on a computer screen for 15 minutes in preparation for achievement tests that followed. Achievement results indicated that studying text displays produced lower achievement than studying any of the other displays. Unlike past studies, however, no advantage was found for matrix study over outline study perhaps because of design constraints associated with eye tracking. Eye-tracking results, however, were robust. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses showed that students tend to study text and outline displays one topic at a time, whereas students tend to study matrix displays across topics. Across-topic study is instrumental in spotting and learning comparative relationships among topics. Implications for research and practice were provided.