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Eye tracking
Contingency theory
Adaptive practices
Issue Date: 
Teo, T. W., & Tan, S. C. (2019). Contingency theory of adaptive practices through the lens of eye trackers. In M. Chang, H.-J. So, L.-H. Wong, F.-Y. Yu, & J.-L. Shih (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computers in Education (Volume 1, pp. 214-223). Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education.
In this paper, we report on a study of adaptive practices, as revealed by a teacher’s eye gazes, in response to the contingencies that arose during a lesson. According to Mannikko & Husu (2009), there are four categories of adaptive practices, namely, adaptive recognitions, adaptive anticipations, adaptive deliberations, and adaptive insights. In this study, eye tracking technologies are positioned as a mediator between the contingencies that arise in the classroom and the adaptive practices undertaken by teachers. The essence of contingency theory is that “organizational effectiveness results from fitting characteristics of the organization, such as structure, to contingencies that reflect the situation of the organization” (Donaldson, 2001, p. 1). The two research questions are: (1) What classroom events and/or objects, as revealed by the eye fixations, invoke the adaptive practice(s) of recognitions, anticipations, deliberations and/or insights during a lesson? (2) What events unfold following the enactment of the adaptive practice as informed by the eye fixations? The findings in this paper were based upon a 29-minute lesson video of a biology lesson during which the teacher was wearing eye trackers. The four contingences that arose during the lesson include: (1) students engaging in personal talks, (2) students not taking down notes, (3) students not looking confident when answering, and (4) student raised hand to seek clarification. For (1) the eye gazes were fixed on students and adaptive recognitions of rules were practiced. For (2), the eye gazes were fixed on the whiteboard and students, and adaptive anticipations of habits were practiced. For (3) the eye gazes were fixed on the teacher’s own lower arm and students, and adaptive deliberations of repetitions were practiced. For (4) the eye gazes were fixed on the student asking a question, and adaptive deliberations of reconstructed explanations were practiced. This study contributes to the literature as two new sub-categories of adaptive practices, namely adaptive deliberations of repetitions and adaptive deliberations of reconstructed explanations, were identified. The findings suggest that eye-tracking technologies can afford new empirical insights on the nature of adaptive practices that teachers adopt in the classroom.
Project number: 
AFR 02/17 TSC
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
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