The MathTrack project

The MathTrack project is a study of classroom interactions, which aims to take into full consideration the complexity of social and embodied processes of learning. We use multiple mobile gaze trackers to study the visual attention of four students and their teacher in realistic classroom settings. Using multiple mobile gaze tracking provides us with a view of how the students’ and teachers’ visual attention shifts in real classrooms.

The aim of our research is to develop sufficient measures and novel knowledge on the affective factors of social visual attention in the context of mathematics teaching and learning. Classroom interaction has been explored on macro-level throughout decades. Our purpose is to move on to the micro-level of evidence and broaden the results received with momentary measurements back to the field of educational discourse.

MathTrack project is funded by the Academy of Finland (ID 297856). We are a part of the Faculty of Educational Sciences in the University of Helsinki.

A novel way of collecting gazer tracking data

What is new?

We have collected our research data in authentic classrooms during mathematics lessons, using multiple mobile gaze tracking devices. Our mobile gaze trackers do not restrict the normal activites of the teacher or the students in the classroom. This way we can explore the micro-level of real-life social interaction among teachers and students.

We also use multiple gaze trackers simultaneously. By synchronizing the recordings of five gaze trackers, three stationary videocameras, several microphones and SmartPen or screen capture recordings, we reach rich data on the social activities and learning processes throughout the lesson.

Methods

We have collected the data for this project among Finnish ninth-grade students and their mathematics teachers. Voluntary classes participated in two data collection lessons in their own, authentic learning environments. The purpose of the first lesson was to test using the devices in the environment and help the participants to get accustomed to wearing gaze tracking devices and being observed.

During the second lessons, the teachers were asked to orchestrate a mathematical problem-solving lesson. The task used was a geometrical problem: How to connect four imaginary cities located in the vertices of a square with an electric cable using as little amount of cable as possible?

Some classes solved the problem using pens, paper, rulers, and calculators and some classes used laptop computers with Geogebra software. The students were instructed to work on the problem first by themselves, then in pairs of two, and finally in collaboration groups of three to five students. After the collaborative phase of the lesson, the students presented and discussed their solutions on the board.

In addition to the recordings during lessons, we collected questionnaire data on students’ mathematical views and experiences on the research lessons and on teachers’ self-perceptions on their interpersonal teaching style and mathematical views. We also conducted stimulated recall interviews with the teachers and the target students, during which they reflected the cognitive, affective, and social aspects of lessons while watching the external camera’s video and their gaze video.

We have used various quantitative and qualitative methods for data analyses. We have also developed graphs with fine-grained timelines and momentary heatmaps to present our data and results.