Using indicator flashcards

Using indicators directly with participants can be a good way to ask them to identify wellbeing for themselves. One way of doing this is to use ‘flash cards’ with activities that directly relate to each indicator written on them. Participants then order the cards, choose some or group them.

Research method Preparation time Time to gather data Time to analyse data Not suitable for ... Does data indicate wellbeing? Who, what, where people experience wellbeing? Is it an activity in itself?
Using indicator flashcards Quick: print and cut up cards 30 mins – 1 hour Quick as controlled outcome People with limited literacy skills, young children Yes Yes Yes
 Suitable for:

  • people with good literacy skills
  • people who have come to several woodland sessions.

What information is collected?

  • flashcards collect direct information about indicators from participants
  • the written examples on the flash cards can tell you directly who, what, where people are accessing wellbeing if these are ranked highly – or that they prevent wellbeing if ranked low down
  • can use cards to focus on a very specific topic or activity.

How is information collected?

  • written notes and a photograph of how the cards have been grouped
  • video/audio of the discussion that goes along with the flash card activity (would need a still picture of final grouping).

Watch out for:

  • different people are likely to interpret the wellbeing indicators in different ways, so you may not be able to directly compare results
  • you may assume that an activity relates to a particular indicator e.g. lighting the fire = being in control, but the participant may associate the fire with feeling relaxed
  • some people find sorting large numbers of cards confusing, so you could restrict the number of indicator cards you use, e.g. focus on one area of wellbeing
  • colour coding the cards can help the researcher follow easily which indicator each flashcard refers to but it may be leading the participant if they group similar colours together
  • remember to include negative as well as positive indicators so that people are able to say when they do not access wellbeing.


Materials needed: set of cards, audio/video recorder or notepad/pencil and stills camera. Print cards with large print (laminating them helps them to last outdoors). Download and print the Good from Woods wellbeing indicator flash cards (pdf) or write your own based around the indicators and your observations.

Method: ask participants to put the cards in order of which they like best and least. Follow-up with open questions such as: what did you get out of this or what makes it good? what didn’t you like about this? or what makes it bad?

Adaptations: ask participants an open question and ask them to choose the cards that they think applies (as many as they want to for each question). You could do this in pairs or small groups, although this makes it harder to record. The initial open question could refer to who, what, where – e.g. how does sitting around the fire make you feel? How do you feel when you’re on your own in the woods, with other people, how does the shelter make you feel?