Gaze Shifts between Text and Illustrations are Negatively Related to Reading Fluency in Beginning Readers


Learning to read is often considered the most important skill taught in school because reading is a gateway to other learning. Many children struggle to acquire this fundamental skill. Suboptimal design of books for beginning readers may contribute to the difficulties children experience as close proximity between text and illustrations could promote attentional competition hampering literacy skills. The present work utilized eye-tracking technology to examine how beginning readers allocate attention and whether these patterns are related to fluency (Experiment 1) and comprehension (Experiment 2). Results suggest when reading books in which text and illustrations are in close proximity, children frequently shift attention away from the text. This pattern of attention was negatively associated with fluency, but not associated with comprehension. This line of research aims to provide theoretical insights about design principles for reading materials that can be employed to optimize instructional materials and promote literacy development in young children.

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