PPIG 2005 - 17th Annual Workshop
Effects of Experience on Gaze Behavior during Program Animation
Roman Bednarik, Niko Myller, Erkki Sutinen, Markku Tukiainen
Abstract: The purpose of program visualization is to illustrate some aspects of the execution of a program. A number of program visualization tools have been developed to support teaching and learning of programming, but only few have been empirically evaluated. Moreover, the dynamics of gaze behavior during program visualization has not been investigated using eye movements and little is known about how program animation is attended by learners with various levels of experience. We report on an empirical study of the gaze behavior during a dynamic program animation. A novice and an intermediate group, a total of 16 participants, used Jeliot 3, a program visualization tool, to comprehend two short Java programs. Referring to previous literature, we hypothesized that the performance as well as the gaze behavior of these two groups would differ. We found statistically significant differences in performance measures and in fixation durations. Other commonly used eye-tracking measures, the fixation count and the number of attention switches per minute, seem to be insensitive to the level of experience. Based on the results, we propose further directions of the research into gaze behavior during program visualization.