Developing attention-aware systems and interfaces based on eye tracking technology could revolutionize mainstream human–computer interaction to make the interaction between human beings and computers more intuitive, effective and immersive than can be achieved traditionally using a computer mouse. This paper aims to propose an eye-controlled interactive reading system (ECIRS) that uses human eyes instead of the traditional mouse to control digital text to support screen-based digital reading.Design/methodology/approachThis study uses a quasi-experimental design to examine the effects of an experimental group and a control group of learners who, respectively, used the ECIRS and a mouse-controlled interactive reading system (MCIRS) to conduct their reading of two types of English-language text online – pure text and Q&A-type articles on reading comprehension, cognitive load, technology acceptance, and reading behavioural characteristics. Additionally, the effects of learners with field-independent (FI) and field-dependence (FD) cognitive styles who, respectively, used the ECIRS and MCIRS to conduct their reading of two types of English-language text online – pure text and Q&A-type articles on reading comprehension are also examined.FindingsAnalytical results reveal that the reading comprehension of learners in the experimental group significantly exceeded those in the control group for the Q&A article, but the difference was insignificant for the pure text article. Moreover, the ECIRS improved the reading comprehension of field-independent learners more than it did that of field-dependent learners. Moreover, neither the cognitive loads of the two groups nor their acceptance of the technology differed significantly, whereas the reading time of the experimental group significantly exceeded that of the control group. Interestingly, for all articles, the control group of learners read mostly from top to bottom without repetition, whereas most of the learners in the experimental group read most paragraphs more than once. Clearly, the proposed ECIRS supports deeper digital reading than does the MCIRS.Originality/valueThis study proposes an emerging ECIRS that can automatically provide supplementary information to a reader and control a reading text based on a reader’s eye movement to replace the widely used mouse-controlled reading system on a computer screen to effectively support digital reading for English language learning. The implications of this study are that the highly interactive reading patterns of digital text with ECIRS support increase motivation and willingness to learn while giving learners a more intuitive and natural reading experience as well as reading an article online with ECIRS support guides learners’ attention in deeper digital reading than does the MCIRS because of simultaneously integrating perceptual and cognitive processes of selection, awareness and control based on human eye movement.
The Electronic Library – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 16, 2018
Keywords: Human–computer interaction; Digital reading; Eye tracking technology; Reading behaviour analysis