Reactions vs. Reality: Using Sentiment Analysis to Measure University Students’ Responses to Learning ArcGIS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As data literacy competencies become more common in university-level curriculum, understanding how students are really feeling when they first encounter new software and data concepts is of increasing importance to student success. Using sentiment analysis, this article seeks to understand some of those students’ reactions, or sentiments, to using ArcGIS and geospatial data in a university classroom environment and how those reactions evolve as more experience is gained. Over the course of three weeks and six workshops, a librarian taught students how to use ArcGIS in order for them to complete course assignments. Each week the librarian provided a form that included two free-text response questions. The VADER sentiment analysis tool was applied to all text responses, rating each response with a compound score on a scale between +1 (positive sentiment) and –1 (negative sentiment). The analysis showed that the range of respondent sentiment narrowed throughout the three weeks. Voyant Tools, an online tool for quick text analysis, was also used to count the unique and frequently used words in the survey’s two free-text questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Map and Geography Libraries
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • ArcGIS
  • Instruction
  • sentiment analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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