Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM
USING EYE-TRACKING TECHNIQUES TO EVALUATE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF VISUAL STIMULI IN 2-D KARST VISUALIZATIONS: SEEING THROUGH THE COMPLEXITIES OF KARST ENVIRONMENTS
Eye-tracking refers to quantitatively measuring an individual’s points of interest and eye movements when viewing visualizations. Using specialized devices, a scientist can identify where an observer is looking when presented with an image, how long each portion of the image is viewed, and the order of observation. Visualization developers are able to use eye-tracking data to create graphics that hold the observer’s attention and, consequently, enhance learning about a particular concept, such as the interconnectedness of karst environments. Karst environments are distinctive landscapes with highly interconnected sources of groundwater that are significantly vulnerable to degradation. Many instances of anthropogenic karst disturbance are unintentional and result from a general lack of understanding about the sensitivity and complex subsurface and surface interactions of karst terrains. To prevent the occurrence of disturbances, education is necessary, yet efforts to educate about karst landscapes are complicated by concepts that are often too abstract to be fully understood. Thus, this preliminary study aimed to assess and improve the educational effectiveness of visual stimuli in complex 2D karst visualizations by combining stationary eye-tracking techniques with knowledge assessment and semi-structured interviews. To achieve this objective, small groups of 10-15 participants completed stationary eye-tracking trials with two, 2D karst visualizations with the same category of visual stimuli to observe (i.e. label placement, visualization orientation, scale, karst feature); however, the same category was manipulated differently in both visualizations. Following, learning outcomes of each visual stimuli were assessed. The results of this preliminary study aim to reveal the most effective visual stimuli of each established category. These stimuli will be combined to develop new visualizations that effectively and efficiently communicate karst and groundwater concepts to non-karst experts. These tools can provide a framework for the development of educational karst materials for use in classrooms, textbooks, science centers, show caves, and beyond, and with time may spur attitude and behavioral changes that decrease occurrences of anthropogenic karst disturbances and misuse.