Eye patterns in reading websites vs. books

I was emailed an interesting article today about a study done that tracks the eye movements in people reading websites based on age. They found that the younger generations who have grown up with the internet tend to read in a F shaped pattern, largely ignoring material in the bottom right corner and right side, whereas we “older” generation folks who grew up reading books still read in a Z shaped pattern scanning left to right like we would in a book. This got me thinking about my own students and the things they seem to miss in the novels we study in English class. I often assume they miss things because they being lazy or not reading carefully enough (both of which could still be true), but what if they are also missing things because of the way their eyes are being trained to move across a page (digital and, by association, paper pages)? I’d have to still do more investigating on the matter, but it got me thinking about the handouts I give in class whether they are being designed to best accommodate the digital generation. Any thoughts anyone?


Posted on 26 October 2011, in Books, Information Fluency, Research & Stats and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. integratedintention

    I think this is very interesting and certainly very helpful to be aware of. I think there could be a variety of reasonable responses to it though. Do we:

    a). Accommodate students by sometimes designing materials in an “F,” but still push them to read the bottom right corner?

    b). Continue to do as we currently do, or even purposely emphasize reading the bottom right corner, in the hopes students will adopt a more “Z” like eye pattern?
    (am I right in thinking the “Z” eye movement is objectively better for comprehension while the “F” is more efficient?)

    c). Decide that the “Z” pattern is obsolete and design worksheets more like websites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: