This study used eye-tracking technology to investigate the different types of reading strategies that sixth graders adopt to comprehend illustrated science articles, as well as the relationship between reading process and reading comprehension. The participants were 122 sixth-grade students whose eye movements were monitored during silent reading of a science article containing one representational diagram and one explanatory diagram. Cluster analysis was performed based on five eye movement indices: first-pass (initial processing)/look-back (late-stage processing) total fixation duration on texts and diagrams, and number of saccades between text and diagram. Results showed that sixth graders adopted four types of reading strategy to read science article: Initial-global-scan students (21%) reading the science text and examining the science diagram for the first time tend to quickly scan the material, then read it carefully, and engage in saccade behavior. Shallow-processing students (58%) spent little time on the text or diagram during their first-pass and second-pass reading, and they also seldom engage in saccade behavior. Words-dominated students (12%) spend a long time reading the text during the first-pass reading. Diagram-dominated students (9%) spent considerable time and effort on diagrams during the first-pass reading, and outperformed the other three groups in the reading comprehension test. Students who were proficient at using diagram information could distinguish the importance of various types of science diagrams; they also spent much mental effort on the explanatory diagram compared with the representational diagram. A multiple regression analysis indicated first-pass total fixation durations on the diagram predicted reading comprehension performance.
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