The function of diagram with numbered arrows and text in helping readers construct kinematic representations: Evidenced from eye movements and reading tests

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Eye-tracking technology can reflect readers' sophisticated cognitive processes and explain the psychological meanings of reading to some extent. This study investigated the function of diagrams with numbered arrows and illustrated text in conveying the kinematic information of machine operation by recording readers' eye movements and reading tests. Participants read two diagrams depicting how a flushing system works with or without numbered arrows. Then, they read an illustrated text describing the system. The results showed the arrow group significantly outperformed the non-arrow group on the step-by-step test after reading the diagrams, but this discrepancy was reduced after reading the illustrated text. Also, the arrow group outperformed the non-arrow group on the troubleshooting test measuring problem solving. Eye movement data showed the arrow group spent less time reading the diagram and text which conveyed less complicated concept than the non-arrow group, but both groups allocated considerable cognitive resources on complicated diagram and sentences. Overall, this study found learners were able to construct less complex kinematic representation after reading static diagrams with numbered arrows, whereas constructing a more complex kinematic representation needed text information. Another interesting finding was kinematic information conveyed via diagrams is independent of that via text on some areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-632
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 1



  • Diagram
  • Eye-tracking technology
  • Illustrated text
  • Kinematic representation
  • Numbered arrows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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