The stimuli can be a short sentence or paragraph of narrative text, cross-section axes, or images (i.e. portraits, or posters or billboards). The software traces the participant's eye movements for the researcher, who can analyse the data to find out how participants read and process information, and discover what they observe when looking at selected stimuli.
After a day shadowing a previously trained colleague, I began solo lab work from Thursday 19th October. In this role, I mentor second year undergraduate students of English Language (BA) at the University of Birmingham (UoB) as part of their Psycholinguistics module. They receive course credit for participating in an eye-tracking study, followed by an online survey on Qualtrics and another experiment that uses the E-Prime software. The students themselves have to write an assignment on the different experiment methods; whilst I run and supervise the experiments (watching eyes flit from one word to another from my high-backed, bond-villain chair!). The experiments themselves have been created by various academics in the English Language and Applied Linguistics department at the university.
To me, it is a perfect opportunity to develop my awareness and understanding of how to operate and use technology to investigate linguistic phenomena and the cognitive processing of language. In addition, my role as a Teaching Associate means that I am now an official employee of the UoB. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first weeks in this fascinating, interactive project, and I feel the introduction to further uses for computer software in linguistics has put me in good stead for my future career as an academic.
© Copyright Samantha Ford 2017-2018