Back to Page Authors: Sharon Sin Ying Wong

Keywords: eye-tracking, language processing, listening assessment, stimulated recall

Abstract: This paper presents the methodology part of a current research project and evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of using eye-tracking technology and immediate stimulated recall on language assessment research. 53 primary school students aged 8 to 12 participated in the study. Each participant completed 24 questions from the TOEFL Primary Listening Test on a computer screen attached to an eye-tracker and did an immediate stimulated recall after each set of 12 questions. The eye-tracking data were used as prompts in the stimulated recalls, and participants were asked to report their cognitive processes at the time of the listening test, and whether questions being read aloud to them was helpful for their understanding of the listening questions. From the eye-tracking data and the stimulated recall, it is found that some participants were looking at the words fallen into a particular area of interest (AOI) but they were not actually reading the words. They were concentrating on listening but the eye movement incidentally fell on the target areas. This has led to a faulty increase in the visit count and fixation time reflected in quantitative data. In terms of qualitative data, many participants did give some insightful information about what they were thinking on the spot and how they processed the information, yet some contradicting self-report was identified, especially after participants saw the eye-tracking prompts. It is suggested that researchers need to be aware of the drawbacks of eye-tracking technology and stimulated recalls when interpreting both quantitative and qualitative data in similar approaches.