Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

STEM and Professional Studies

Committee Director

Ginger Watson

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Jill Stefaniak

Abstract

This study investigated how native language orientation influences spatial bias, first visual fixation on screen, first visual fixation on pictures, learning outcomes, and mental effort of learners. Previous studies supported the effect of native language writing or reading direction on spatial bias, examining written text and images created by the participants (Barrett et al., 2002; Boroditsky, 2001; Chatterjee, Southwood & Basiko, 1999; Spalek & Hammad, 2005). However, no study investigated writing direction in multimedia presentations using eye tracking. This study addresses this gap.

A total of 84 participants completed the study forming four groups. The first group (NativeLeft_InstrEng) consisted of individuals whose native language is written from left to right and who have never experienced a right to left language. They received the material in English. The second group (NativeRight_InstrAra), whose native language is written from right to left, received the material in Arabic. The third group (NativeLeft_LrnRight_InstrEng) consists of individuals whose native language is written from left to right and who are learning or have learned a language written from right to left. They received the material in English. The fourth group (NativeRight_InstrEng), whose native language is written from right to left, received the material in English. Participants were asked to complete a survey that consisted of eight sections: demographic questions, self-estimate prior knowledge test, the instructional unit, mental effort rating, sentence forming questions, recalling questions, sequence question and finally, post-test questions. Eye tracking was used to detect first fixation on screen and pictures, and results were compared with participants’ written responses. Eye movements can be considered the blueprint for how students process the visual information (Underwood & Radach, 1998).

Significant results for learning and spatial bias confirmed that spatial bias is associated with native language orientation such that the left-oriented learners were more likely to demonstrate left bias on the screen, while participants who were right-oriented demonstrated right bias. However, exposure to other languages, culture, or beliefs; or living for some time in a country which uses a language with a different orientation can influence learner’s spatial bias, as seen with group NativeRight_InstrEng. Finally, differences in visual fixations on screen and pictures were not significant perhaps due to the simplicity of pictures used in this study.

ISBN

9780355045321

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