Using Word Clouds To Visualize and Highlight Questionnaire Response

This brief article illustrates the use of wordclouds to visualise responses as part of a development of learning tools that respond to the needs of learning.

I wanted to get a feel for how people think. How can we visualise thinking? How we we weigh different responses?

To get the ball tolling, I want to know if people think alike, which may seem like a stupid question. Or – if each of us has a unique outlook on the world — the learning ecosystem they are a part of. I made a deliberate mix of easy to respond to and more challenging questions, using pupils in the 15–16 year old class to respond. I wanted to know if they think alike, or if each has a unique outlook on the world. Most important of all, I want to get a more detailed idea of what is going on inside their heads, in order to start to approach the realities of designing a ‘learning ecosystem’.

So Icame up with a hit-list of 16 questions Ifelt were manageable enough for secondary school students but also wide enough to access their thinking, then ordered the responses from each student under each question and for each student, highlighting 2 or 3 keywords for a quick effective identification of their response. In addition, I pasted all the answers together and made a word cloud of all the answers to make a visual reference for spotting word hits. The word cloud will feature at the beginning of each of the questions.

Out of the list of 16 questions we asked to 8 fluent English speakers we illustrate 2.

Question 1: What is a good learner?

Word Cloud for Question 1


‘A person who is able to take on difficult challenges and a person who has an interest to expand his knowledge.’


‘A person who is good at explaining and get everyone to take part as much as possible.’


A good learner is an engaged and focussed learner.’


‘A good learner, is a student that yearns to do his/her best, every time. The student tries to challenge oneself and become even better.’


‘Someone that’s open-minded. Someone who wants to learn.’


‘Someone who is committed to their work and try to understand their different pupils needs.’


‘Someone who takes initiative and sets goals for him/her self that he then tries to reach.’


‘Someone who uses the knowledge he gets from what he is learning and using his learning skills to the fullest.’

Question 2: What do you do to be able to learn something?

Word Cloud for Question 2

FOCUS by Chris

‘I think that one of the most important part of learning is focus — stay focused on the teacher’s topics.’


‘I think its easier to learn stuff when I get interested in the subject and get a good introduction.’


‘Again, you need to be engaged, prepared and focused. And obviously wanna learn.’


‘I try to understand it through asking questions.’


‘focus on subjects and listen in class. take some notes.’


‘I do what the teacher says because I know the teacher wants the best for me.’


‘I listen to what my teachers say, and I put myself into the work that I do.’


‘I do my homework and ask for help if there is something I don’t understand.’


‘If I need to learn something it would be to first get some knowledge about the topic, then do a small presentation about it in small groups and get some knowledge about the topic from them as well.’

The rest of the questions and how they are used to design tools for strategic learning.