The main goal of this study was to investigate how readers’ visual attention distribution during reading of conflicting science information is related to their scientific reasoning behavior. A total of 25 university students voluntarily participated in the study. They were given conflicting science information about earthquake predictions to read while their eye movements during reading were recorded by the FaceLAB eye tracking system. After reading, the participants were interviewed to probe their reasoning performance. Our study showed that when university students were asked to read and reason about conflicting science information, those who paid more cognitive attention and efforts to the text areas related to backing theory, data, and warrants demonstrated better performances in coordinating theory and evidence, identifying evidence, and providing rebuttals, compared to students who paid less attention and made fewer cognitive efforts to these areas. The association between students’ background knowledge and performance of scientific reasoning was weak. Compared to those with irrelevant backgrounds, students with relevant background knowledge tended to read more of the facts when the science information involved a simple experimental study, while their attention was directed more to data and claims when the experimental study was complicated or unfamiliar.
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