How Experts Adapt Their Gaze Behavior When Modeling a Task to Novices

S.N. Emhardt*, Ellen Kok, H.M. Jarodzka, S. Brand - Gruwel, Christian Drumm, Tamara van Gog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Domain experts regularly teach novice students how to perform a task. This often requires them to adjust their behavior to the less knowledgeable audience and, hence, to behave in a more didactic manner. Eye movement modeling examples (EMMEs) are a contemporary educational tool for displaying experts’ (natural or didactic) problem‐solving behavior as well as their eye movements to learners. While research on expert‐novice communication mainly focused on experts’ changes in explicit, verbal communication behavior, it is as yet unclear whether and how exactly experts adjust their nonverbal behavior. This study first investigated whether and how experts change their eye movements and mouse clicks (that are displayed in EMMEs) when they perform a task naturally versus teach a task didactically. Programming experts and novices initially debugged short computer codes in a natural manner. We first characterized experts’ natural problem‐solving behavior by contrasting it with that of novices. Then, we explored the changes in experts’ behavior when being subsequently instructed to model their task solution didactically. Experts became more similar to novices on measures associated with experts’ automatized processes (i.e., shorter fixation durations, fewer transitions between code and output per click on the run button when behaving didactically). This adaptation might make it easier for novices to follow or imitate the expert behavior. In contrast, experts became less similar to novices for measures associated with more strategic behavior (i.e., code reading linearity, clicks on run button) when behaving didactically.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12893
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Didacti cbehavior
  • Didactic behavior
  • Expert-novice communication
  • Expertise
  • Expert–novice communication
  • Eye movement modeling examples
  • Eye tracking
  • Programming


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