Analyzing students’ visual attention through spy glasses

Keywords: visual attention, gesture, spy glasses


Visual attention is an important indicator in teacher-student interactions. This article presents the results of a study aimed to determine how the visual attention paid to the teacher by students fluctuates during their math and English classes and to detect possible differences in their attention.  The study was conducted in a secondary school with a sample of 16 male students.  Data was obtained by a mini video camera mounted on glasses wore by students. Using google images, we automatically and objectively analyzed 2613 frames from the recordings where the teacher appeared in the students’ visual field. Results show a difference in students’ visual attention between introvert and extrovert students throughout the 90-minute class. It was also observed that students were more visually engaged when the teacher's speech was accompanied by gestures. The paper highlights the importance of diversifying interactions that seek other ways to engage students in the last two-thirds of the class. Some implications for professional development programs are derived from this study.


Araya, R., Behncke, R., Linker, A., & Van der Molen, J. (2015). Mining social behavior in the classroom. In Computational Collective Intelligence (pp. 451-460). Springer, Cham.
Araya, R. & Farsani, D. (2020). The effect of teacher unconscious behaviors on the collective unconscious behavior of the classroom. In International Conference on Computational Collective Intelligence (pp. 529-540). Springer, Cham.
Araya, R., Farsani, D., & Hernandez, J. (2016). How to attract students’ visual attention. Eleventh European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning. (pp. 30 - 41). Springer International Publishing.
Barakat, R. A. (1973). Arabic gestures. The Journal of Popular Culture, 6(4), 749-793.
Boeriis, M., & Holsanova, J. (2012). Tracking visual segmentation: connecting semiotic and cognitive perspectives. Visual communication, 11(3), 259-281.
Castellón, V. C. (2007). Students’ speech and gesture: A communicative and strategic tool to convey and discuss mathematical concepts in a bilingual classroom.(Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation), University of California.
Chan, W. W. L., & Wong, T. T.-Y. (2019). Visuospatial pathways to mathematical achievement. Learning and Instruction, 62, 11–19.
Corbell, A. (1997). Thumbs up in ancient Rome: “Pollex” as index. Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 42, 1-21.
Deubel, H., & Schneider, W. X. (1996). Saccade target selection and object recognition: Evidence for a common attentional mechanism. Vision Research, 36(12), 1827–1837.
Edwards, L.D., Moore-Russo, D., & Ferrara, F. (2014). Emerging perspectives on gesture and embodiment in mathematics. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte.
Farsani, D., Radmehr, F., Alizadeh, M., & Zakariya, Y. F. (2021). Unpacking the black‐box of students’ visual attention in Mathematics and English classrooms: Empirical evidence using mini‐video recording gadgets. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 37(3), 773–781.
Farsani, D., Breda, A., & Sala, G. (2020). ¿Cómo los gestos de los maestros afectan a la atención visual de las estudiantes durante el discurso matemático? REDIMAT – Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 9(3), 220-242.
Farsani, D., & Rodrigues, J. (2021). Proxêmica e comunicação não verbal na interação em sala de aula. Psicologia Escolar e Educacional, 25, 1–9.
Farsani, D. (2015a). Deictic gestures as amplifiers in conveying aspects of mathematics register. In Proceedings of the 9th Conference of European Society for Research in Mathematics Education, pp. 1382-1384. Prague, Czech.
Farsani, D. (2015b). Making Multi-Modal Mathematical Meaning in Multilingual Classrooms [Unpublished PhD thesis], University of Birmingham.
Galanti, G. A. (2004). Caring for Patients from Different Cultures. Third edition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Haataja, E., Garcia Moreno-Esteva, E., Salonen, V., Laine, A., Toivanen, M., & Hannula, M. S. (2019). Teacher’s visual attention when scaffolding collaborative mathematical problem solving. Teaching and Teacher Education, 86, 102877.
Habók, A., Magyar, A., Németh M.B., & Csapó, B. (2020). Motivation and self-related beliefs as predictors of academic achievement in reading and mathematics: Structural equation models of longitudinal data. International Journal of Educational Research, 103, 101634.
Hwang, Y. M., & Lee, K. C. (2018). Using an Eye-Tracking Approach to Explore Gender Differences in Visual Attention and Shopping Attitudes in an Online Shopping Environment. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 34(1), 15–24.
Jewitt, C., & Oyama, R (2001). Vidual meaning: a social semiotic approach. In T. van Leeuwen, & C. Jewitt, (Eds.), Handbook of visual analysis, (pp. 134 - 156). Sage publications London. Thousands Oaks. New Delhi,
Kirk, H. E., Spencer-Smith, M., Wiley, J. F., & Cornish, K. M. (2019). Gamified Attention Training in the Primary School Classroom: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Attention Disorders.
Kirk, H., Gray, K., Ellis, K., Taffe, J., & Cornish, K. (2017). Impact of attention training on academic achievement, executive functioning, and behavior: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 122(2), 97–117.
Liao, C.-N., Chang, K.-E., Huang, Y.-C., & Sung, Y.-T. (2020). Electronic storybook design, kindergartners’ visual attention, and print awareness: An eye-tracking investigation. Computers & Education, 144.
McClelland, M. M., Acock, A. C., Piccinin, A., Rhea, S. A., & Stallings, M. C. (2013). Relations between preschool attention span-persistence and age 25 educational outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(2), 314–324.
McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. The University of Chicago Press.
Muhonen, H., Pakarinen, E., Rasku-Puttonen, H. & Lerkkanen, M. K. (2020). Dialogue through the eyes: Exploring teachers’ focus of attention during educational dialogue. International Journal of Educational Research, 102,
Núñez, R., & Sweetser, E. (2006). With the future behind them: Convergent evidence from Aymara language and gesture in the crosslinguistic comparison of spatial construal of time. Cognitive Science, 30, 401-450.
Oakes, L., & Amso, D. (2018). Development of visual attention. In J. Wixted (Ed.). The Stevens' Handbook of Experimental. Developmental and Social Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 1-33.
Parra-Zapata, M. M., & Villa-Ochoa, J. A. (2016). Interacciones y contribuciones. Formas de participación de estudiantes de quinto grado en ambientes de modelación matemática. Actualidades Investigativas en Educación, 16(3), 1–27.
Pinto, G., Bigozzi, L., Vettori, G., & Vezzani, C. (2018). The relationship between conceptions of learning and academic outcomes in middle school students according to gender differences. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 16, 45–54.
Prieto, L. P., Sharma, K., & Dillenbourg, P. (2015). Studying teacher orchestration load in technology-enhanced classrooms. Design for Teaching and Learning in a Networked World (pp. 268 -281). Springer.
Rasmussen, C., Stephan, M., & Allen, K. (2004). Classroom mathematical practices and gesturing. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 23, 301-323.
Rosa, M., & Orey, D. C. (2019). Mathematical modelling as a virtual learning environment for teacher education programs. Uni-pluriversidad, 19(2), 80–102.
Schneider, W. X., Einhäuser, W., & Horstmann, G. (2013). Attentional selection in visual perception, memory and action: a quest for cross-domain integration. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368(1628), 20130053.
Sharma, K., Jermann, P., & Dillenbourg, P. (2014). “With-me-ness”: A gaze-measure for students’ attention in MOOCs. In Proceedings of international conference of the learning sciences 2014 no. CONF (pp. 1017–1022). ISLS.
Sparhawk, C. M. P (1981). Contrastive-identificational features of Persian gesture. In A. Kendon (Ed.), Nonverbal Communication, Interaction, and Gesture (pp. 421-458). The Hague: Mouton.
Strohmaier, A. R., MacKay, K. J., Obersteiner, A., & Reiss, K. M. (2020). Eye-tracking methodology in mathematics education research: A systematic literature review. Educational Studies in Mathematics 104, 147–200.
Wolfe, J. M., & Horowitz, T. S. (2017). Five factors that guide attention in visual search. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(3), 0058.
How to Cite
Farsani, D., & Villa-Ochoa, J. (2022). Analyzing students’ visual attention through spy glasses. Uniciencia, 36(1), 1-17.
Original scientific papers (evaluated by academic peers)

Comentarios (ver términos de uso)