Author Archives: profgarrett

Research Viz

I’m working on a new way to visualize eye-tracking data. Last year, I had a number of students watch a video while my camera recorded their eyes.  After exporting the raw data, I wrote a custom script with Three.JS to plot the fixations in a 3d world.


The gif to the right shows my current version.  Each person’s eye track is shown as a line.  As time progresses, the lines shift/move with their eye fixations.


The major benefit of this approach is that we can zoom out and see aggregate behavior fairly clearly.  While we can get a similar look with the bar chart I posted earlier in the year, this way does a better job of allowing you to compare the time dimension.


If you have a Google Cardboard, the current version will allow you to see the visualization in a 3d VR world.

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Business Plan Resources

See the attached file for the Baron resources. Baron PowerPoint

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New Chapter: How writing grades predict student graduation

My co-authored chapter in “Retention, Persistence, and Writing Programs” titled “How Student Performance in First-Year Composition Predicts Retention and Overall Student Success” has now been published.  This was a cooperative project with Bruce Feinstein and Matthew Bridgewater.

The biggest factor we discovered was the relationship between success in writing programs and graduation.  Instead of being an isolated issue safely  hidden in GE, writing courses predict graduation just as well as courses in a student’s major.

The big chart for us was the following.  It shows the grade earned in a single course, separated into major classes and general education writing courses.


The book is now posted on



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PPT Analysis Article Published

I’m happy to say that my article reviewing PPT files has been published.  I used C# to automate the analysis of a 30,000 PowerPoint files from a large academic publisher. It was a fun exercise in “big” data, involving a lot of files and a lot of data cleaning.

How Do Academic Disciplines Use PowerPoint?


This project analyzed PowerPoint files created by an academic publisher to supplement textbooks. An automated analysis of 30,263 files revealed clear differences by disciplines. Single-paradigm “hard” disciplines used less complex writing but had more words than multi-paradigm “soft” disciplines. The “hard” disciplines also used a greater number of small graphics and fewer large ones. Disciplines identified by students as being more effective users of PowerPoint used larger images and more complex sentences than disciplines identified as being less effective in this regard. This investigation suggests that PowerPoint best practices are not universal and that we need to account for disciplinary differences when creating presentation guidelines.


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Demo of Eye Tracking Viz Tool

I’ve been working on a better way to visualize data generated by my eye tracking camera. The typical approach smashes data into a single image. However, I’m really interested in seeing how eye gaze moves over time, meaning that aggregating loses the critical aspects.


The gif above shows the tool I’m currently developing.  It uses three.js to place the recorded video and image slide into a 3d space.  I then display *every* person’s gaze as a point, and update it in real-time. This also allows me to include pupil dilation, which is a key marker of cognitive load.

It still needs work, but is a pretty cool way of seeing how people reacted during the one-on-one experimental sessions.

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WUFA Faculty Grant

These are the slides from a presentation I made on the Faculty Development Day. The previous presenters went long, so I only had 3 minutes. However, I was able to keep to the time limit by doing 1 sentence per slide…

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Summer Evaluations

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Course Reviews

Here are my evaluations for the Fall semester. I’ve picked out a few of the more interesting comments.

Truest quote:

The workload is a bit much for brand new material.

This is a persistent issue in the class — we cover a lot of material.  The class goes over Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  We also spend a lot of time working on Capsim, which is a business simulation.  I enjoy Capsim, as it gives a practical context to the abstract skills people learn.  However, it has a significant learning curve.  I’ve been using the MBA version of the class to develop a simpler business game that doesn’t involve quite as many details.


On a lighter side, some people left humorous comments

Funny, helps learning stale information slightly less painful.

Capsim is fun despite people’s hatred towards it


Several left nice comments

There is a lot about excel and word especially that I did not know. This has already been beneficial to me throughout work and school. I feel like this course will be extremely helpful at the beginning of a student’s educational experience.”

Professor garrett is always there for you and genuinely cares about your performance in the course. He schedules meetings with students to ensure a solid grade and understanding of the course

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Eye-Tracking in Instructional Videos

Eye-Tracking in Instructional Videos is a presentation I gave at the ISECON 2015 Conference.  A copy of the paper is also available below.
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New paper published

My most recent paper, titled “Textbooks for Responsible Data Analysis in Excel” has been put online at the Journal of Education for Business.

Abstract: With 27 million users, Excel (Microsoft Corporation, Seattle, WA) is the most common business data analysis software. However, audits show that almost all complex spreadsheets have errors. The author examined textbooks to understand why responsible data analysis is taught. A purposeful sample of 10 textbooks was coded, and then compared against spreadsheet development best practices. The results show a wide range of approaches, and reveal that none of the 10 books fully cover the methodologies needed to create well-rounded Excel data analysts. There is a need to re-evaluate the teaching approaches being used in office application courses.

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