Effects of mouse pointing on learning from labeled and unlabeled split-attention materials: An eye-tracking study

Publication Name

Computers in Human Behavior


Learning from mutually referring but spatially separated text and picture (i.e., split-attention materials) is cognitively demanding. We investigated whether mouse pointing could support learning from split-attention materials in which the related elements between the text and picture were indicated by visual labels or not. One hundred thirty-two university students studied a text and picture about the human nervous system in one cell of a 2 (Mouse Pointing: yes vs. no) × 2 (Labeling: yes vs. no) between-subjects design. Results indicated neither mouse pointing nor labeling had a significant impact on retention, comprehension, and cognitive load ratings. However, there was an interaction between mouse pointing and labeling on comprehension scores, indicating that mouse pointing on labeled materials resulted in worse performance than mouse pointing on unlabeled materials. Eye tracking results revealed that both mouse pointing and labeling led to shorter fixation durations and less fixations on the text and more transitions between text and picture. Labeling also led to longer fixation durations and more fixations on the picture. These findings suggest that mouse pointing and labeling influenced perceptual but not cognitive processing.

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Funding Sponsor

China Scholarship Council



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