Conveying clinical reasoning based on visual observation via eye-movement modelling examples

Halszka Jarodzka*, Thomas Balslev, Kenneth Holmqvist, Marcus Nyström, Katharina Scheiter, Peter Gerjets, Berit Eika

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Complex perceptual tasks, like clinical reasoning based on visual observations of patients, require not only conceptual knowledge about diagnostic classes but also the skills to visually search for symptoms and interpret these observations. However, medical education so far has focused very little on how visual observation skills can be efficiently conveyed to novices. The current study applied a novel instructional method to teach these skills by showing the learners how an expert model visually searches and interprets symptoms (i.e., eye-movement modelling examples; EMMEs). Case videos of patients were verbally explained by a model (control condition) and presented to students. In the experimental conditions, the participants received a recording of the model’s eye movements superimposed on the case videos. The eye movements were displayed by either highlighting the features the model focused on with a circle (the circle condition) or by blurring the features the model did not focus on (the spotlight condition). Compared to the other two conditions, results show that a spotlight on the case videos better guides the students’ attention towards the relevant features. Moreover, when testing the students’ clinical reasoning skills with videos of new patient cases without any guidance participants studying EMMEs with a spotlight showed improved their visual search and enhanced interpretation performance of the symptoms in contrast to participants in either the circle or the control condition. These findings show that a spotlight EMME can successfully convey clinical reasoning based on visual observations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)813-827
    Number of pages15
    JournalInstructional Science
    Issue number5
    Early online date25 Mar 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


    • eye tracking
    • expertise
    • medical education
    • eye movement modeling examples
    • Example-based learning
    • attention


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