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What is it?

The Eye Movement & Reading Awareness resource Lab (EMRA lab) is a place where instructors and students can meet to investigate and reflect on reading together. 

Many students feel that they have problems reading, understanding, and remembering their textbooks and assignments.   The EMRA resource lab can help by illustrating to students and instructors where and for how long a student is looking at words on a page, areas of a page, or on a website or video.  It also illustrates where a student is NOT looking or reading.

What is an eye tracker?

The eye tracker camera records a student's eye motions so that a "map" is made of the order and the length of time of looking (a fixation) for an individual student.  It is a small camera that sits below the monitor.  It uses light reflected off of the reader's eyes and some complicated algorithms to estimate where the reader is gazing (looking).  All the reader has to do is look straight ahead at the computer monitor.  (See the pictures below and view a video here.)

What is the EMRA resource lab good for?

The recorded "map" can illustrate good reading habits (and poor habits, as well!) for students.  Discussion of the map can help a student focus on different strategies for improving reading habits and being more successful in the classroom.  It can be printed out, or watched as a video.  (See the pictures below and watch a video here.)

The EMRA resource lab can also be used by instructors and students to record improvement over time.  Multiple sessions can be recorded so that students and instructors can visualize and adapt reading and learning strategies.  This can be particularly useful for English as a Second Language students. 

The EMRA lab is a great place to start and continue to work on reading strategies for all students.  ESL students can often get frustrated by reading because not only do they have to work through new vocabulary and unfamiliar grammar, but also cultural inferences and connections that can be opaque.  The EMRA lab is a useful tool to help garner confidence in reading in a different language or in a challenging text by showing how much a reader CAN do when reading.


The camera under the monitor.

Reflection used by the eye tracker camera to estimate where a person is reading/looking.

Example of a "fixation map"
(Each red dot represents a location of where the reader looked.  The size represents how long each fixation was.  The line shows the order of the fixations.)
Example of a "heat map"
(Each blob represents the location of where the reader looked.  The color represents how long each fixation was.)

eye tracker camera under monitor

picture of eye in the eye camera

picture of a fixation map picture of a reading heat map

pictures are from the Gaze Point website