Ocular Dominance

A Carolina Essentials™ Activity

Total Time: 15-30 mins

Prep: 15 mins | Activity: 15-30 mins

Life Science


Middle/High School


This short, individual engagement activity introduces the senses, sensation and perception, and evolutionary differences in predator-prey relationships. Students differentiate binocular vison and panoramic vision, determine their own ocular dominance, calculate class data percentages, and determine if a relationship appears to exist between ocular dominance and handedness.

Essential Question

How does the brain process information from both eyes?

Activity Objectives

  1. Determine individual student ocular dominance.
  2. Analyze class data to determine group ocular dominance.
  3. Determine if there is a relationship between ocular dominance and handedness.

Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS1.D: Information Processing

Crosscutting Concepts

Systems and System Models


Safety and Disposal

Ensure that students understand and adhere to safety practices. Know and follow all federal, state, and local regulations as well as school district guidelines for the disposal of laboratory wastes. Students should not eat, drink, or chew gum in the lab and should wash their hands after entering and before exiting the lab.


Print or gather the images for the activity. Hang the images, at student eye level, around the room for easy access by several students at a time. Ensure students can stand 2.5 to 3.0 m, (8-10 ft.) from the image. Prepare a class data table with columns for student, ocular dominance, handedness, and match/nonmatch.

Teacher Procedures

  1. Locate an activity image close to you.
  2. Stand directly on the line with a clear, straight-ahead view of the graphic.
  3. Raise your arm to shoulder height with your arm fully extended in front of you and your thumb pointing up.
  4. With both eyes open, hold your thumb at arm’s length and “cover” the object with your thumb.
  5. Close your right eye.
  6. If your thumb appeared to move to the right, the right eye is dominant. If your thumb did not seem to move, your left eye is dominant.
  7. Repeat step 5 using the left eye.

Teacher Preparation and Tips

  1. Hang geometric images or select in-class images that are at student eye level. Note: You may laminate the images for multiple use.
  2. Measure 8 to 10 meters from the image and place a masking tape line on the floor.
  3. Clear the visual path from the line to the image.
  4. Ensure students are standing directly in front of the image and not to the side.
  5. Prepare a class data table on the board, computer, document camera, or an overhead transparency. Headings: Student, Ocular Dominance, Handedness, and Match/Nonmatch.

Data and Observations

Analysis & Discussion

Ask students the following questions:

      1. Which type of ocular dominance do you have? (right eye dominant, left eye dominant, or none)

        Student answers will vary.

      2. Are you right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous?

        Student answers will vary. The choices are right-handed, left-handed, and ambidextrous.

      3. Does your ocular dominance match your handedness?

        Student answers will vary.

      4. Record your information on the class data table.

        Data table columns for class data: Student, Ocular Dominance, Handedness, Match/Nonmatch.

      5. Calculate the percentage of right, left, and no ocular dominance.

        To calculate percentage, add the number of students with right ocular dominance and divide by the total number of students. Repeat for left dominance and no dominance. % = number or students in the group/total number of students

      6. Calculate the percentage of right- and left-handedness.

        % =number or students in the group/total number of students

      7. Were your class proportions what you expected they would be? If your class proportion is different, why do you think this was so? It is estimated that about two-thirds of all people have a dominant right eye, and one-third have a dominant left eye. In rare cases, neither eye is dominant. Communicate these proportions to students again.

        Student answers will vary.

      8. Based on the class proportions, does there seem to be a relationship between ocular dominance and handedness? Use data to justify your answer.

        Student answers will vary based on calculated percentages, but ocular dominance is independent of handedness.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of, and do not endorse, these products.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Sign up for free resources delivered to your inbox!