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Wordful: Overview for Researchers

Wordful is designed to allow parents to track their child’s early vocabulary growth, and make this data available to researchers in an anonymized form. Unlike previous instruments (e.g. web-based CDI administration, like the WebCDI) which ask about the whole vocabulary in a single sitting, Wordful is designed to query parents about a small subset of words in a longitudinal design. In effect, it puts a web app in parents’ pockets.

Because parents may use multiple devices over the course of a longitudinal study, Wordful has user accounts system for parents and other caregivers. These accounts are much like any other modern web app that we use everyday (Facebook, etc.). Each user account is linked to zero or more child accounts. This setup allows for a single user to contribute data for multiple children, as well as multiple users to contribute data to the same child. This provides a method to evaluate how caregiver report varies as a function of caregiver, as well as a powerful incentivization for parents to collaborate in tracking their child.

Each child account belongs to a study. A study defines the set of data collection tools that are accessible on demand from the app and the schedule of interactions with the app (usually prompts for the caregiver to supply data, but the same system can be used to message users). These aspects of the user interface are specified on the backend; researchers can compose series of screens and definte interactions with the web backend in order to build out the UI for their paritcular study.

This system of backend-defined data collection tools allows different model-based sampling methods to be used within the same child, and the same scheme to be used across children. Wordful thus enables rich, study-specific logic for an unlimited number of studies, and provide a platform whereby additional investment in frontend development provides the greatest benefit for other researchers.

If you are running a study that could benefit from the use of Wordful, please contact us at mailto:.

Researcher FAQ

  1. Who is behind this app? Stephan Meylan and Michael C. Frank coordinate development and research. The frontend engineer is Ryan Warner. Ongoing support is provided by the Stanford Language and Cognition Lab. Mika Braginsky wrote the earliest versions of the app.

  2. How does this work with an IRB? The pilot study for Wordful is approved under an IRB at Stanford University. Another study is progressing at University of Wisconsin, Madison under a separate IRB, which allows for the data to be stored at Stanford. The objective in 2019 is to expand the coverage under the Stanford IRB to handle many kinds of projects run at other institutions. For the forseeable future, researchers at other institutions will need to have the use of Wordful approved under their own IRB. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about this.

  3. Is Wordful available in other languages? We are currently seeking partners for internationalization (see GDPR compliance, below).

  4. Is Wordful GDPR compliant? Not as of December 2018, but we are looking into this.

  5. Is Wordful SafeHarbor compliant? Again, not as of December 2018, but we are looking into this.

  6. Is Worful HIPAA compliant? No. We are looking into this possibility, but GDPR compliance is a higher priority.

  7. Is an Android version available? An Android version will be available in early 2019.

  8. When are words re-presented to parents, after they answer “no” in the swipe words interface? This can be a study-specific parameter, but is currently for most studies at 3 days.

  9. Where does the word list come from for the Swipe Words interface? This is a combination of “word” items on the MacArthur Communicative Development Words and Sentences (WS) instrument, plus 193 words that are the most frequent child-produced words in the North American corpora in CHILDES. This list excludes special tokens in CHILDES (e.g. xxx), numbers, letters, disfluencies (e.g. “um”, “uh”), lexical variants of words already on the CDI (e.g. “mum” -> “mommy” in the CDI), and inflections (“had” -> “have” in the CDI).

  10. Where does Wordful get its funding? The funding for initial development is from NSF award #1338541 “Data on the mind: Center for Data-Intensive Psychological Science” to Tom Griffiths, Alison Gopnik, and Dacher Keltner. Further funding has been provided by Gary Lupyan and the Lupyan Lab under R21-HD092867 “The Impact of word learning on children’s category induction,” and by the Stanford Language and Cognition Lab, with support coming from a Jacobs Foundation Advanced Research Fellowship to M.C. Frank. Future funding will likely come from partnerships with developmental labs, direct grants from NIH and NSF, and charitable foundations.

Last updated: December 20, 2018