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Using Online Focus Groups to Inform Staff and Professional Development


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Presentation from the 2012 NAEPSDP conference

Published in: Education, Technology
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Using Online Focus Groups to Inform Staff and Professional Development

  1. 1. Using Online Focus Groups toInform Staff and ProfessionalDevelopmentSarah Baughman, Ph.D.eXtensionMichael Lambur, Ph.D.Virginia Cooperative Extension
  2. 2. 2State & Local Value Enhancement ProjectAn eXtension initiative to promote the use ofeXtension at the state and local level with fourkey strategies:1.) Develop listening sessions to determine current needsand use of eXtension and technology tools by Extensionprofessionals.2.) Reach out to all institutions and offer to help/visit.3.) Target key institutions for onsite and virtual visits.4.) Create a multi-state work team to develop strategies forState and Local Value Enhancement (SLVE) efforts.
  3. 3. 3Why Online Focus Groups?National scope of the projectNeed to reach diverse audiences within CESPromote and model use of technologyTo experiment with new method
  4. 4. 4Focus Group RecruitingParticipants were recruited throughInstitutional TeamsFour groups –• Administrators• State Specialists/Faculty• Local Educators• Programming Assistants and SupportStaff
  5. 5. 5ProtocolEmulate a traditional in person focus groupMix of verbal questions, chat pods and a poll1 hour sessions6 questionsDesignated moderatorNote takerAdditional support for discussions
  6. 6. 6Questions1. Please describe your key jobresponsibilities (verbal response)2. How and to what extent do you usetechnology in your job? (type in chat pod)3. How familiar are you with eXtension?(poll with verbal follow up)
  7. 7. 7Questions4. How and to what extent have you usedeXtension in your work? (type or talk)[eXtension is…]5. Based on your current understanding ofeXtension and our explanation of theopportunities it can provide, in what ways toyou think eXtension might help you enhanceyour Extension work? (type)6. What can we do to help you take fulladvantage of eXtension? (verbal)
  8. 8. Question 1: Respondents answered verbally but couldalso choose to type in the chat pod on the right
  9. 9. 10Response74 people participated13 Institutions8 total focus groups conducted
  10. 10. 11Key FindingsThree broad categories of findings:• General Findings• Top Uses of eXtension• Ways to use eXtensionFindings have driven the work of the SLVEworking group as it conducts its work
  11. 11. 12Lessons Learned• Preparation is key• Extra staff critical to helpinitiate/encourage discussion• People more willing to speak than weanticipated• Chat pods were essentially transcripts…but needed to read in context with therecordings
  12. 12. 13Using for staff and professionaldevelopment• Effective way to gather information fromdifferent locations• Useful format for working groups orconducting resesarch• Staff development can be interactive• Opportunities to bring in broader range ofexpertise• Inexpensive and effective
  13. 13. 14Contact InformationSarah BaughmanCell: 540-315-0164Office: it: Cooperative Extension