Co-authors Callie Little, Ph.D. and Yaacov Petscher, Ph.D. published by Scientific Reports

Callie Little
Yaacov Petscher

Callie Little and Yaacov Petscher of the Florida Center for Reading Research co-authored "Developmental Trajectories of Eye Movements in Oral and Silent reading for Beginning Readers: A Longitudinal Investigation" along with Young-Suk Grace Kim and Christian Vorstius. Their study followed the reading patterns of 363 English-speaking children from 1st to 3rd grade to identify the "temporal and spatial measures of eye movements." They compared these measures between silent and oral reading and across each year of the longitudinal study. They first cite several studies that have previously identified changes in eye movement patterns over time among elementary school students. However, they point out that their research is the first to look specifically at the growth trajectories of eye-movement parameters. They say that there is minimal information regarding developmental trajectories when comparing oral and silent reading. This leads to their three main research questions about English-Speaking children from Grade 1 to Grade 3.

1. What changes happen in eye movements during oral and silent reading as children develop?

2. How many of these differences are due to the individual differences in each child?

3. How can eye movements during reading be best characterized with a functional form of growth trajectories and does it vary between oral and silent reading?

To answer these questions, students were tested once a semester for three years for a total of six assessments. Each time, students were asked to read three passages both silently and orally with one passage being repeated from a previous assessment. Each student read a total of 13 different passages. The eye movements of the students were tracked with a camera placed in front of the monitor on which the passages were displayed.

They found that almost all reading eye movements decreased over time for both oral and silent reading. Results showed an opposite effect only for spatial eye-movement measures, namely, saccade amplitude and initial landing position. Their findings also supported previous data regarding the participants' "initial landing positions" which refers to the point in a word that readers look at first. These initial positions tended to shift towards the middle of words as children developed their reading skills.

We applaud Dr. Petscher and Dr. Little on their research that can be used to further expand the data between growth trajectories of eye movement parameters and other aspects of reading. To read about the future implications of these findings and for more information on this experiment, you can read the full article here: