Ways of looking: an eye-tracking study of visual literacy expertise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Eye tracking has been utilized for decades to study perceptual processes in a range of fields, and it has proven particularly useful for studying how the viewing behaviours of experts and novices within a field differ from one another. This article reports on a study that uses eye tracking to examine patterns in the ways that visual communication experts and non-experts read journalistic photographs that they might encounter in their daily lives. Expert participants (29) were practitioners with a minimum of 4–5 years of experience in a visual communication field; non-expert participants (29) had no training in visual communication and had 0–1 year of experience. Participants viewed 10 images and answered a series of four questions about each image. Participant eye movements were tracked utilizing a TobiiPro x2-60 eye tracker connected to a 17-inch high-end gaming laptop. The literature suggests that there should be observable differences between the eye movements of experts and non-experts, with expert viewing behaviour being more efficient and effective. However, the differences between experts and non-expert participants in the study were inconsistent and far less extensive than expected. The article discusses possible explanations for these results and suggests directions for future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Visual Literacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • experts and non-experts
  • Eye-tracking
  • viewing patterns
  • visual communication expertise
  • visual literacy expertise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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