Planning and facilitating
focus groups
Jo Alcock
Evidence Base, Birmingham City University
jo.alcock@bcu.ac.uk
@joeyanne
Workshop introduction
This workshop will cover all elements involved in
planning and facilitating focus groups. We will co...
Voting activity
Understanding previous experience with focus groups
https://www.flickr.com/photos/94371817@N00/3932774410
Learning outcomes
By the end of the workshop, attendees will be able to:
1. Understand the value of focus groups
2. Plan, ...
Workshop overview
What are focus groups?
Why? Value of focus groups
What? Planning and logistics
How? Structuring and enco...
Icebreaker activity
Which represents something about you?
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliejohnson/2122722198
– Wikipedia
“A focus group is a form of qualitative research in
which a group of people are asked about their
perceptions,...
– Wikipedia
“A focus group is a form of qualitative research in
which a group of people are asked about their
perceptions,...
Why?
Why use focus groups?
Maximise feedback
Gain a group opinion
Inform further research
Initiate or stimulate discussion on ‘...
When are focus groups useful?
Complex research question with variety of
viewpoints
User-focused developments
Understanding...
Examples of focus group topics in
libraries
Feedback on current services
Use of library space
Focus of library budget - pr...
Setting the aims of the focus group
1. What do you want to find out from the focus group?
2. What actions could the findin...
Agree/disagree activity
How much do you agree or disagree with the following?
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8489692@N03/43...
What?
Focus group logistics - when?
1.5-2 hours uninterrupted time
Advertised well in advance
Day and time suitable for particip...
Focus group logistics - where?
Convenient location for attendees and facilitators
Private space (neutral space if appropri...
Focus group logistics - who?
Organisers
One key contact email/phone number for
participants to contact
Confirm all details...
Focus group logistics - who?
Facilitators
At least two people
One to facilitate - needs to know subject, research
question...
Focus group logistics - who?
Participants
People with an interest in the topic
People who are willing to talk openly
Repre...
Incentives
What's in it for them?
What could you offer at little or no cost to you that
would nonetheless be of some value...
Prioritisation activity
Which are your favourites?
https://www.flickr.com/photos/41117344@N05/5146172013
How?
4MAT
Adapted from McCarthy's 4MAT
Planning the discussion
Plan topics to discuss and some prompt questions to
assist
Start with the broader topics, then fol...
Focus group structure - electronic or
print?
Time Topic
15 minutes Briefing
10 minutes Ice breaker
20 minutes Preferences ...
Focus group toolkit
Do not disturb sign
Attendee list and register
Discussion plan
Timer
Pens and paper
Activity materials...
Briefing
Welcome and thanks
Timings (incl. breaks if applicable) and structure
Recording methods (and request permission t...
Facilitating the discussion
Gain rapport - ensure to create a positive
impression before the focus group, as they arrive,
...
Debriefing
What happens next
Any further follow up (seek permission and ways to
contact them)
Offer incentives to stay in ...
Recording the discussion
Make notes in addition to any audio/video recording
as a backup
Review notes shortly afterwards t...
Creative thinking activity
What would your perfect snack be?
https://www.flickr.com/photos/11247304@N06/1340979055
Planning focus group activities
https://www.flickr.com/photos/11247304@N06/1340979055
https://www.flickr.com/photos/411173...
What else?
Qualitative analysis
1. Transcribe information
2. Extract key themes - be open minded to all options
3. Pull together info...
Reporting
1. Introduction
2. Methodology
3. Findings
4. Conclusions
5. Recommendations
– Extract from Evidence Base report on ebook focus
groups
Overall all respondents were positive about having ebook
version...
Recap
Why?
Value of focus groups
Examples of focus
group topics
Setting aims of focus
group
What?
Logistics of focus groups
When?
Where?
Who? Organising,
facilitating and
participating
Incentives
How?
Using 4MAT
Structuring focus groups
Focus group toolkit
Facilitating focus groups
- briefing, facilitating the
discus...
What else?
Analysing focus group
data
Reporting on focus
group findings
Planning and
facilitating focus
groups
Jo Alcock
Evidence Base
jo.alcock@bcu.ac.uk
@joeyanne
https://www.flickr.com/photos...
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Planning and facilitating focus groups - University of Cambridge

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The workshop covers all elements involved in planning and facilitating focus groups. It covers the logistics; techniques to attract attendees; activities to engage participants; techniques to improve facilitation; and how to record and share the results of the focus group. The workshop is interactive in nature, with discussion points throughout, and an opportunity to try things out.

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Planning and facilitating focus groups - University of Cambridge

  1. 1. Planning and facilitating focus groups Jo Alcock Evidence Base, Birmingham City University jo.alcock@bcu.ac.uk @joeyanne
  2. 2. Workshop introduction This workshop will cover all elements involved in planning and facilitating focus groups. We will cover the logistics; techniques to attract attendees; activities to engage participants; techniques to improve facilitation; and how to record and share the results of the focus group. The workshop will be interactive in nature, with discussion points throughout, and an opportunity to try things out.
  3. 3. Voting activity Understanding previous experience with focus groups https://www.flickr.com/photos/94371817@N00/3932774410
  4. 4. Learning outcomes By the end of the workshop, attendees will be able to: 1. Understand the value of focus groups 2. Plan, organise and facilitate a focus group 3. Prepare focus group activities 4. Report findings from focus groups
  5. 5. Workshop overview What are focus groups? Why? Value of focus groups What? Planning and logistics How? Structuring and encouraging discussion What else? Using the information from focus groups
  6. 6. Icebreaker activity Which represents something about you? https://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliejohnson/2122722198
  7. 7. – Wikipedia “A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.”
  8. 8. – Wikipedia “A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.”
  9. 9. Why?
  10. 10. Why use focus groups? Maximise feedback Gain a group opinion Inform further research Initiate or stimulate discussion on ‘hot’ topics
  11. 11. When are focus groups useful? Complex research question with variety of viewpoints User-focused developments Understanding reasons for behaviour Limited resources (time and staff)
  12. 12. Examples of focus group topics in libraries Feedback on current services Use of library space Focus of library budget - print or electronic resources? Options for supporting enquiries Planning for future
  13. 13. Setting the aims of the focus group 1. What do you want to find out from the focus group? 2. What actions could the findings result in? 3. What would you need to know to inform those decisions? 4. Who would you need information from to inform the decisions? 5. Who else might have an interest in the results of the focus group, and could they provide any support?
  14. 14. Agree/disagree activity How much do you agree or disagree with the following? https://www.flickr.com/photos/8489692@N03/4330199412
  15. 15. What?
  16. 16. Focus group logistics - when? 1.5-2 hours uninterrupted time Advertised well in advance Day and time suitable for participants and facilitators (this may require evening/weekend options depending on user groups) Lunchtime can be a good time if interested in views from those who are on campus most days - you may wish to offer food/drink as an incentive
  17. 17. Focus group logistics - where? Convenient location for attendees and facilitators Private space (neutral space if appropriate) Room with plenty of space, light, and usable wall space Group discussion layout (or adjustable furniture)
  18. 18. Focus group logistics - who? Organisers One key contact email/phone number for participants to contact Confirm all details with participants the day before the focus group (this sometimes results in cancellation notifications) Eventbrite can be used to help manage bookings
  19. 19. Focus group logistics - who? Facilitators At least two people One to facilitate - needs to know subject, research question, and intended use of focus group findings One to record - needs to be able to take comprehensive notes, and be aware of the subject May wish to use people who are unknown to participants
  20. 20. Focus group logistics - who? Participants People with an interest in the topic People who are willing to talk openly Representative of users identified when setting the aims - experience/knowledge, demographic factors, attitudes Range and group size - may choose to have mixed groups, or groups with similar types of users together
  21. 21. Incentives What's in it for them? What could you offer at little or no cost to you that would nonetheless be of some value to them? Cash Amazon vouchers Printing credits
  22. 22. Prioritisation activity Which are your favourites? https://www.flickr.com/photos/41117344@N05/5146172013
  23. 23. How?
  24. 24. 4MAT Adapted from McCarthy's 4MAT
  25. 25. Planning the discussion Plan topics to discuss and some prompt questions to assist Start with the broader topics, then follow with more specific topics Don’t be too prescriptive unless you need to be - focus groups are a useful way to unearth new topics Allow plenty of time for each topic (you probably won’t be able to cover as much as you think so keep it simple!)
  26. 26. Focus group structure - electronic or print? Time Topic 15 minutes Briefing 10 minutes Ice breaker 20 minutes Preferences and why 20 minutes Features and functionality 20 minutes Accessing and using resources 20 minutes The future 15 minutes Debriefing
  27. 27. Focus group toolkit Do not disturb sign Attendee list and register Discussion plan Timer Pens and paper Activity materials - stickers, post- its Recording equipment Music
  28. 28. Briefing Welcome and thanks Timings (incl. breaks if applicable) and structure Recording methods (and request permission to record) Roles - expectations and responsibilities for participants and facilitators How information from focus group will be analysed and used Opportunity for participants to ask any questions
  29. 29. Facilitating the discussion Gain rapport - ensure to create a positive impression before the focus group, as they arrive, and in the introduction and icebreaker Encourage discussion by asking open questions Focus on the process, not the content - use your structure and planning to help Have confidence in yourself and your ability to facilitate
  30. 30. Debriefing What happens next Any further follow up (seek permission and ways to contact them) Offer incentives to stay in touch Offer opportunity for them to ask any final questions Thank them for their time and arrange incentives
  31. 31. Recording the discussion Make notes in addition to any audio/video recording as a backup Review notes shortly afterwards to make sure legible and understandable Ensure to record responses to activities and if possible record who gave each response Aim to write up the focus group shortly afterwards so the discussion is fresh in your mind
  32. 32. Creative thinking activity What would your perfect snack be? https://www.flickr.com/photos/11247304@N06/1340979055
  33. 33. Planning focus group activities https://www.flickr.com/photos/11247304@N06/1340979055 https://www.flickr.com/photos/41117344@N05/5146172013 https://www.flickr.com/photos/848 9692@N03/4330199412 https://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliejohn son/2122722198 https://www.flickr.com/photos/94371817@N00/3932774410
  34. 34. What else?
  35. 35. Qualitative analysis 1. Transcribe information 2. Extract key themes - be open minded to all options 3. Pull together information on each theme 4. Present findings based on themes, opinions, and strength of opinions
  36. 36. Reporting 1. Introduction 2. Methodology 3. Findings 4. Conclusions 5. Recommendations
  37. 37. – Extract from Evidence Base report on ebook focus groups Overall all respondents were positive about having ebook versions of key texts, but this was only as a supplement to printed materials and not as a complete replacement to them: ‘Core books as ebooks is OK but easier to look through printed books’
  38. 38. Recap
  39. 39. Why? Value of focus groups Examples of focus group topics Setting aims of focus group
  40. 40. What? Logistics of focus groups When? Where? Who? Organising, facilitating and participating Incentives
  41. 41. How? Using 4MAT Structuring focus groups Focus group toolkit Facilitating focus groups - briefing, facilitating the discussion, debriefing Recording the discussion
  42. 42. What else? Analysing focus group data Reporting on focus group findings
  43. 43. Planning and facilitating focus groups Jo Alcock Evidence Base jo.alcock@bcu.ac.uk @joeyanne https://www.flickr.com/photos/travelinlibrarian/223839049
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