Eye Tracker Part 2

The Project

This is Part 2 of a PowerPoint slide show that describes some of the benefits of the Eye Tracker technology in art education.  One of the benefits discussed in the presentation focuses on making connections between art and science by combining art images with the scientific method as a way to measure and create data using works of art.  Fourth graders at WJ Gurganus Elementary in Havelock, North Carolina were able to use the data from the eye tracker pilot study that was completed at East Carolina University in the spring of 2010, in a project where they were able to combine art and scientific measuring tools.  Students were given background knowledge about the eye tracker and how it works.  The young researchers then discussed where they believed a viewer might look longest as they made their hypotheses based on the elements of art they had already learned about in art.  Each student in a group of four was given a set of the same colored magnet dots.  As an artwork was projected on the board, they placed their individual magnets where they thought a viewer’s eye might fixate.  After conversations about focal points and why they chose the spot they did, the actual tracked image was placed on the board so that students could see how close their dots matched up with the dots from the tracked art where viewer’s eyes fixated.  It was exciting for students to see how close their dots lined up with the actual results from the study. 

The Presentation

This project was completed in the spring of 2010 as a part of ART 6500, an independent study that was done with Dr. Cynthia Bickley-
Green, art professor at ECU.  This presentation was given at ECU’s Annual Research and Creative Achievement week in April of 2010 and will also be presented at the North Carolina Art Educator’s Association Conference in September of 2010. 

The Connections

By taking the results of the study beyond the campus of ECU and into the classroom, students were able to make connections from themselves to other researchers and artists, as well as make connections with art and science.  The hands-on activity appealed to many of the visual and bodily kinesthetic learners as they were able to take learning beyond simply the knowledge of the elements of art, to a level of synthesis and evaluation as they analyzed art and created new works of art based on what they learned by experimenting with an eye tracker study.

The Results

As a result of completing this project with the fourth graders, I hope to do more types of studies like this in the classroom.  The level of excitement from doing this project was contagious.  The students wanted to look at more data and create paintings that might be used in a future study.  After seeing the enthusiasm and success from completing this in-class experiment, my new goal is to look for more ways to make connections beyond our classroom to the larger world of art and research, in addition to seeking other interdisciplinary connections we can make with art in our school.