Gaze patterns of anatomy students through classroom learning and familiarization
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This study aims to identify the gaze patterns of medical students as they correlate with learning and familiarization through the length of a course. The gaze patterns of medical gross anatomy students (n=31) were documented as they identified anatomical structures on a computer screen. Each student took the test before the start of the Human Gross Anatomy course, and was randomly assigned to a group (A, B, or C) that would take it after one of three course section exams, Back and Limbs, Thorax Abdomen Pelvis, and Head and Neck, respectively. Their gaze patterns were expected to change as they become more familiar with the course material, particularly with respect to cognitively salient Areas of Interest (cAOIs) that are relevant to identifying the tagged structure. We predict that unfamiliar students will demonstrate more saccadic movements, shorter fixation times on cognitively salient AOIs, and longer fixation times on visually salient AOIs when compared to experienced students. Predictions that saccade frequency would decrease with familiarity and that fixation time in visually salient AOIs would decrease were not upheld. There appears to be a decrease in fixation time on the area surrounding the AOIs (White Space) for groups of subjects familiar with the material. This is found to be a statistically significant decrease in Group B's Back and Limbs (p = 0.038) and Thorax Abdomen Pelvis (p = 0.000) sections as well as Group C's Back and Limbs section (p = 0.013). This decrease in fixation time on the White Space is due to an increase in fixation time on cognitively salient AOIs with the only statistically significant increase occurring in Group C's Thorax Abdomen Pelvis section.