In July of 2014, Mark Phillips and I carried Tobii eye-tracking equipment to 12 rural villages conducting a total of 464 eye-tracking trials and nearly 24 hours of recorded audio interviews. This is one of (and perhaps) the first studies of its kind to investigate effective visual learning design with eye-tracking in rural villages of Africa.
We worked in bush maternity wards, medicinal depositories, and mud-brick homes during the research expedition. A total of nine different culture groups were tested that included Songhai, Zerma, Hausa, Kutay, Gourmanche, Fulani, Kado, Mori, and Tamachek.
At a mud brick home in the village of Kakassi, I met a lady I had interacted with on an earlier research trip. We were going through the interview portion of our eye-tracking trials when I asked the question: “Do you know of any way that the sun can purify your water?” The lady responded, “Yes,” almost immediately. I was quite taken aback, because routinely people would firmly answer “No, I’ve never heard of that” when I inquired. I immediately asked, “How do you know this?” She responded, “You showed me how the last time you were here and I’ve been doing it ever since.” This type of positive reinforcement that the learning tools work and have longevity in the community, rather than being temporary fixes, is exactly what the goal of this project is all about.