Influence of Word Clouds on Critical Thinking in Online Discussions: A Content Analysis

Beatriz M Reyes-Foster, Aimee DeNoyelles


This article presents an exploratory research study about the influence of word clouds on critical thinking when they are incorporated into online discussions. In an online discussion, students were asked to critically analyze two speeches, being assigned to one of two conditions: one in which the text was linear, and one in which the text was presented in the form of word clouds. Discussions posts were coded in two blended sections of an undergraduate anthropology course to assess the type and frequency of critical thinking demonstrated therein. Students in the word cloud condition exhibited more instances of critical thinking than students in the linear condition, and more often paired articulation of thought with the citing of evidence. The paper concludes with recommendations for other educators interested in implementing a similar approach.



online discussions; word clouds; critical thinking; content analysis; online learning and teaching; undergraduate education

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.