Utilization of word clouds as a research tool to analyze and present qualitative data and enhance program evaluation.
The data used are from process evaluation instruments taken by youth aged 9-11, their primary meal preparer (n=54 dyads), and leaders (n=15) of the iCook 4-H Program.
Theory, Prior Research, Rationale
Qualitative data provide useful information but can be difficult to present in interesting and easily interpreted ways. Word clouds have been in existence since 1992, but did not become well known and utilized until around 2006. Initially clouds were used to show website metadata for easier public understanding for what a website represented, but their potential usefulness in the research setting is a more recent occurrence.
Word clouds can be used to analyze any qualitative data. They are images composed of text where the size of a word/ phrase represents its frequency. The first step to represent data as word clouds is to thematically code responses into a word/short phrase. Once coded, words are entered into a word cloud generator (e.g. wordle.net) where customizable images are created.
iCook 4-H developers used word clouds to visualize content in program materials and responses to process evaluation questions administered after each of 6 sessions. Participants and leaders were asked the most important aspects of sessions. Dyads described their family meals. Comparisons were made among word clouds.
Conclusions and Implications
Word clouds provide a novel and reader-friendly approach for analysis and presentation of qualitative data. They are useful for quality control to help ensure that the intent of the program is achieved.
NIFA Grant # 2012-68001-19605.
© 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.