This study was to explore the relationships between students' visual behaviors and cognitive structures, as well as between their visual behaviors and information processing modes in the reading of controversial reports on a socio-scientific issue. An eye-tracking technique was used to record students' visual behaviors while reading, and the flow map method was adopted to understand the cognitive structures and information processing modes of a sample of 23 volunteer university undergraduate and graduate students. One controversial issue about genetically modified foods was selected as the topic of the reading material. The content involved various types of reasoning information such as background, reason, data, and inference presented on one page. The results showed that some significant relations between students' visual behaviors and cognitive structures, and between their visual behaviors and information processing modes. Moreover, the regression analyses indicated that the proportion of fixation duration on the inference information was the best predictor of the cognitive structures. Furthermore, the information of empirical data can help students define the controversial issue, and repeatedly shifting fixations away from the reading content is the most significant visual attention characteristic to predict the comparing and the inferring modes for processing the controversial issue. Future studies and applications are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas