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focus_groups_guidelines - Impada project - O1 a2

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Focus_groups_guidelines; Intellectual Output realized within the project IMPADA - Improving the Effectiveness of Adult Education for Disadvantaged Groups. Erasmus Plus KA2 PROJECT. http://www.impada.eu/

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focus_groups_guidelines - Impada project - O1 a2

  1. 1. IMPADA Methodology tools and guidance for the organisation of the focus groups Output type: Intellectual Output PROMEA December, 2015
  2. 2. Page 2 of 26 Project acronym: IMPADA Project name: Improving the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups Project code: 2015-1-UK01-KA204-013666 Document History Versions Date Changes Type of change Delivered by Version 1.0 09/12/2015 Initial document - PROMEA Document Information Document ID name: IMPADA_O1-A2_Methodology tools and guidance for the organisation of the focus groups_2015_12_09 Document title: Methodology tools and guidance for the organisation of the focus groups Output Type: Intellectual Output Date of Delivery: 09/12/2015 Activity Type: Methodology Activity Leader: PROMEA Dissemination level: Public Disclaimer The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. The project resources contained herein are publicly available under the Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.
  3. 3. Contents Acronyms & abbreviations ..................................................................................................................................5 1. Introduction.......................................................................................................................................................6 1.1 Purpose and context of the document.......................................................................................................6 1.2 Structure of the document.............................................................................................................................6 2. Defining a focus group..................................................................................................................................8 2.1. Aim and basic characteristics ...........................................................................................................................8 2.2. Ideal group size and number of participants..............................................................................................8 3. Recruitment and preparation of participants..................................................................................10 3.1. Recruitment issues and strategies............................................................................................................10 3.2. Preparation of participants...........................................................................................................................11 3.3. Defining the target group participants for the IMPADA focus groups .........................................11 4. Presentation of the discussion guide ..................................................................................................13 4.1. Type and structure of the focus group questions ...................................................................................13 4.2. Discussion Guide .................................................................................................................................................13 5. Facilitation of the focus groups..............................................................................................................15 5.1. Role and traits of the moderators.................................................................................................................15 5.2. Facilitation tips .....................................................................................................................................................16 5.3. Communication strategies for attending certain group personality types ....................................17 6. Preparing the analysis ................................................................................................................................18 6.1. Preparatory steps and actions during and immediately after the focus group............................18 6.2. Filling in the data forms....................................................................................................................................18 Annex: Materials for the conduction of the focus groups .................................................................20 Recruitment e-mail ......................................................................................................................................................20 Focus Groups Confirmation Letter .........................................................................................................................21 Introductory remarks..................................................................................................................................................22
  4. 4. Page 4 of 26 Discussion Guide...........................................................................................................................................................23 Focus group identity form .........................................................................................................................................24 Synthesized focus group data form.......................................................................................................................25
  5. 5. Page 5 of 26 Acronyms & abbreviations IMPADA consortium DACES Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service IBE Educational Research Institute UPTER People’s University of Rome ENAEA Estonian Non-formal Adult Education Association PROMEA Hellenic Association for the promotion of Research & Development Methodologies Other abbreviations AF Application Form EACEA Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency SC Steering Committee ECORYS The British National Agency
  6. 6. Page 6 of 26 1. Introduction 1.1 Purpose and context of the document The purpose of this document, within the context of activity O1-A2, is to provide the methodology instructions and tools for the conduction of focus groups with adult education stakeholders. The document serves the needs of the IMPADA project Intellectual Output O1, namely “Criteria for measuring adult education effectiveness on disadvantaged groups”. The purpose of Intellectual Output O1 is to elaborate at least 10 criteria that influence the effectiveness of adult education providers towards disadvantaged learners leading to a report on the criteria for measuring adult education effectiveness on disadvantages. 1.2 Structure of the document This document is structured as follows:  Chapter 1 highlights the scope and purpose of the deliverable within the context of the IMPADA project Intellectual Output O1, presenting also the structure of the document.  Chapter 2 provides general, theoretical definitions, as well as practical specifications on the basic characteristics of the focus group qualitative methodological approach.  Chapter 3 offers guidance to the partners regarding practical and logistic issues concerning the organisation of the focus groups, such as the recruitment and preparation of participants.  Chapter 4 describes the development of the discussion guide and the structure and definition of the focus groups’ questions.  Chapter 5 gives a rather detailed account of how we conduct focus groups addressing issues such as the role and traits of the moderators, facilitation tips
  7. 7. Page 7 of 26 and communication strategies to deal with certain personality types and issues that may appear during the group discussion and the focus group context.  Finally, in the Annex, material that will help the organization of focus groups is provided, such as a sample of a recruitment e-mail and of a confirmation letter for participants, introductory remarks, the discussion guide in printable form, a focus group identity form, and a focus group synthesized data form.
  8. 8. Page 8 of 26 2. Defining a focus group 2.1. Aim and basic characteristics Focus groups explore insights into how people think on a particular subject providing a deeper understanding of the phenomena being studied. While a valuable research tool, surveys generally ask closed-ended questions that may limit the feedback that can be gained from respondents. A method to gain more in-depth information to supplement surveys is semi-structured interviews; conducting interviews, however, can be an expensive procedure that often exceeds the available resources. Focus groups are group interviews that give the researcher the ability to capture deeper information more economically than individual interviews. Economy is an important benefit but also there are other benefits of focus groups when compared to interviews, such as group interaction and non-verbal communication, which are primary benefits of focus groups when exploring opinions, representations and cognitions. Group interaction between members of the target population during focus groups may encourage participants to make connections to various concepts through the discussions that may not occur during individual interviews. A skilled facilitator can encourage these group interactions to capture this data to provide a more comprehensive understanding of what is being studied. Non-verbal communication is also data that can be captured in focus groups. Participants within a focus group may respond very differently to a topic. A topic related to gender equity, for example, may provoke intense discussion among female participants while male participants withdraw from the discussion. This type of interaction is observation data for analytical purposes. 2.2. Ideal group size and number of participants
  9. 9. Page 9 of 26 A focus group is a homogeneous group of six to ten people led through an open discussion on a specific topic by a skilled moderator. Homogeneity is important to maximizing disclosure among focus group participants who ideally are very comfortable with each other but none of them know each other. The group needs to be large enough to generate rich discussion but not so large that some participants are left out. Focus groups are structured around a set of carefully predetermined questions – usually no more than 8-10 – but the discussion is free-flowing. The focus group moderator nurtures disclosure and spontaneity of participants in an open format. Ideally, participants' comments will stimulate and influence the thinking and sharing of others. The aim is to generate a maximum number of different ideas and opinions from as many different people in the time allotted, which is anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. Beyond that, most groups are not productive and it becomes an imposition on participants’ time.
  10. 10. Page 10 of 26 3. Recruitment and preparation of participants 3.1. Recruitment issues and strategies Participant inclusion and exclusion criteria should be established upfront and based on the purpose of the study, as a basis to screen all potential applicants. The following selection criteria should be considered in the formulation of groups and the recruitment of participants:  Gender: Both men and women should feel comfortable discussing the topic in a mixed gender group.  Age – Participants should represent the same age group.  Power – Participants should hold similar positions of power within the thematic context of the focus groups.  Cliques/ Existing relationships: It is advisable, participants to be unknown to each other. Focus groups participants can be recruited in any one of a number of ways. Some of the most popular include:  Nomination – Key individuals nominate people they think would make good participants. Nominees are familiar with the topic, known for their ability to respectfully share their opinions, and willing to volunteer about 2 hours of their time.  Random selection – If participants will come from a large but defined group (e.g. teachers) with many eager participants, names can be randomly drawn until the desired number of verified participants is achieved.  All members of the same group – Sometimes an already existing group serves as an ideal pool from which to invite participants.
  11. 11. Page 11 of 26  Same role/job title – Depending on the topic, the pool might be defined by position, title or condition. This is the case for the selection of participants in the present study.  Volunteers – When selection criteria are broad, participants can be recruited with flyers and newspaper ads. 3.2. Preparation of participants Once a group of viable recruits has been established, call each one to confirm interest and availability. Give them times and locations of the focus groups and secure verbal confirmation. Tell them you will mail (or email) them a written confirmation and call to remind them two days before the scheduled group. Tell participants that the focus group will take about one and half to two hours. Give them a starting time that is 15 minutes prior to the actual start of the focus group to allow for filling out necessary paperwork, having a bite to eat, and settling in to the group. Arrange for a comfortable room in a convenient location with ample parking. Depending on your group, you may also what to consider proximity to a bus line. The room should have a door for privacy and table and chairs to seat a circle of up to 12 people (10 participants and the moderator and assistant moderator). Arrange for food. At a minimum, offer a beverage and light snack (cookies, cheese/crackers, veggie tray, etc.). It is OK to offer a full meal but be sure to add an additional 30 to 45 minutes to the entire process so that everyone can finish eating before the group begins. 3.3. Defining the target group participants for the IMPADA focus groups
  12. 12. Page 12 of 26 The participants of the IMPADA focus groups, as defined in the Application From should comprise (for each focus group) 7-10: a) adult education experts, and b) decision makers in the field of adult education, ideal for providing exclusive insight on the topic under research. To ensure maximum validity, due to the limited number of focus groups foreseen to be organised in the partnership countries, it is significantly important for partners to invite and ensure the participation of experts and stakeholders with high level of responsibility and expertise in the field of adult education.
  13. 13. Page 13 of 26 4. Presentation of the discussion guide 4.1. Type and structure of the focus group questions There are three types of focus group questions: 1. Engagement questions: introduce participants to and make them comfortable with the topic of discussion 2. Exploration questions: get to the point of the discussion 3. Exit question: check to see if anything was missed to be discussed Focus group participants won’t have a chance to see the questions they are being asked. Focus groups questions should be comprehensive, simple, open structured, and to make sure participants understand and can fully respond. To this end, questions should be:  Short and to the point  Focused on one dimension each  Unambiguously worded  Open-ended or sentence completion types  Non-threatening or embarrassing  Worded in a way that they cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. We should use “why” and “how” instead. 4.2. Discussion Guide (A printable form of the discussion guide is also provided in the Annex) Introductory questions/ice-braking What does the term “adult education for disadvantaged groups” bring to mind?
  14. 14. Page 14 of 26 Main questions 1. What could be improved in the adult education programmes for disadvantaged groups in order to improve its effectiveness? 2. What should be included in the adult education for the disadvantaged training programmes? Probe: What are the training needs of adult learners from disadvantaged groups? 3. What kind of knowledge, skills and competences do trainers for adult learners need in order to provide effective education to learners from disadvantaged groups? 4. What kind of qualifications, should trainers hold in order to provide effective adult education to disadvantaged groups? 5. What characteristics should training institutions have in order to provide effective adult education for the disadvantaged? Probes: In terms of training staff, infrastructure, values, funding? Other? 6. What could be improved in the adult education provided to disadvantaged groups in order to deal with the issue of group heterogeneity? 7. As concerns the effect of adult education provision in the learners’ life: what are the areas that could provide input for the assessment of the education provided? Probes: with regards to employability…financial independence…social inclusion…feeling of personal fulfillment…health and wellbeing (physical and psychological) 8. Do you have any other ideas, proposals, suggestions, and second thoughts on the improvement of criteria for adult education effectiveness on disadvantaged?
  15. 15. Page 15 of 26 5. Facilitation of the focus groups 5.1. Role and traits of the moderators The focus group should be conducted by a team consisting of a moderator and an assistant moderator. The moderator facilitates the discussion; the assistant takes notes and runs the tape recorder. The focus group moderator should present the following traits:  Can listen attentively with sensitivity and empathy  Has adequate knowledge of the topic  Can keep personal views and ego out of the facilitation  Is someone the group can relate to but also give authority  Can appropriately manage challenging group dynamics The assistant moderator must be able to do the following:  Run a tape recorder during the session  Take notes of the basic themes of the discussion  Note/record body language or other subtle but relevant clues, such as tone of voice, moments of tension, periods of prolonged silence or subtle conflict  Remains silent and allow the moderator to do all the talking during the group session Both moderator and assistant moderator are expected to welcome participants, offer them food and/or beverages, help them make their name tents etc. Before asking the first focus group question, an icebreaker can be inserted to increase comfort and level the playing field. The focus group moderator has a responsibility to adequately cover all prepared questions within the time allotted.
  16. 16. Page 16 of 26 It is good moderator practice to:  Get all participants to talk and fully explain their answers.  Facilitate the conversation providing helpful probes such as: “Can you talk about that more?” “Help me understand what you mean” “Can you give an example?”  Paraphrase and summarize long, complex or ambiguous comments.  Demonstrate active listening and clarify the comment for everyone in the group.  Remain neutral, refraining from nodding/raising eyebrows, agreeing/disagreeing, or praising/denigrating any comment made.  Tactfully deal with challenging participants. 5.2. Facilitation tips Preparation is the most important element to a successful focus group; there are, however, tips that can be utilized to help make the focus group more successful.  Pause: When someone says something, wait approximately five seconds to see if that person has more to say or if another participant wants to add feedback. Give participants the opportunity to finish their thoughts.  Probe: If something is important to explore, ask questions like “Can you tell me more about that?” or “Can you give me an example?”  Avoid head nods or responses like “yes,” “I agree,” “OK”: The moderator is there to get the feedback from the participants. These kinds of responses are messages to the group on what is acceptable to say and can limit the discoveries that are made during the group.  Reflect: When a topic appears complete, review the notes taken to verify that important information was captured. If the note taker is displaying the notes on an easel pad, the moderator can use this as a guide with the group. Utilize non-verbal communication:  If someone has something to say, acknowledge them with a hand signal to let him/her know that you will give them an opportunity to contribute.
  17. 17. Page 17 of 26  If someone interrupts when someone else is speaking, signal them to wait and that they will be given an opportunity to speak.  Eye contact is important. Establish eye contact with those that are speaking but also with those that are not participating to encourage their engagement in the conversation. 5.3. Communication strategies for attending certain group personality types Personality type Suggested strategy Self-appointed experts These are individuals that generally know more about the topic than anyone else in the group. They either attempt to dominate discussion or do not participate because of their extensive knowledge. Whichever applies, the moderator should remind them on the value of getting everyone’s input, making comments such as “Thank you. What do other people think?” Dominant talkers The moderator has the chance to identify these individuals during the ice – brake/”small talk” at the beginning. If they are dominating the discussion, the moderator should use non-verbal communication or draw attention away from them by moving to the opposite side of the room and drawing eye contact towards him/her form the other participants. Useful probe: “Let’s have some other comments” while looking someone else in the group. The rambler Stop eye contact; look at your watch; jump in at their inhale. Also use guiding statements such as “what is specific thing you are trying to say” or “we need to keep the group moving but you will have the chance to tell me more about that after the group”. The shy participant Make eye contact; smile at them. Call on them “I don’t want to leave you out of the conversation, what do you think”. The participant who talks very quietly Ask them to repeat their response more loudly.
  18. 18. Page 18 of 26 6. Preparing the analysis 6.1. Preparatory steps and actions during and immediately after the focus group 1. Start while moderating the focus groups • Listen for inconsistent comments and probe for understanding • Listen for vague or cryptic comments and probe for understanding • Consider asking each participant a final preference question • Offer a summary of key answers and seek confirmation 2. Immediately after the focus group Immediately after all participants leave, the moderator and assistant moderator debrief while the recorder is still running and label all tapes and notes with the date, and name of the group. • Draw a diagram of seating arrangement • Spot check tape recording to ensure proper operation • Conduct moderator and assistant moderator debriefing discussing their notes and impressions on the focus group • Note themes, hunches, interpretations, and ideas • Label and file field notes, tapes and other materials 6.2. Filling in the data forms 3. Soon after (within hours), analyze the focus group: • Moderator and assistant moderator listens to tape, reviews field notes and reads transcript if available
  19. 19. Page 19 of 26 • Moderators fill in the synthesized data form of the individual focus group in a question- by-question format with amplifying quotes and draft a small summary of the basic ideas in narrative form. 4. After the completion of all 5 focus groups in the 5 partnership countries, PROMEA will proceed to the final analysis of the collected data based on the filled-in data forms sent by the partners. In particular, PROMEA will: • Compare and contrast results by categories of individual focus groups • Look for emerging themes by question and then overall • Construct typologies and present the synthesized categorization of the focus groups content • Describe findings and use quotes to illustrate 5. Finally, PROMEA will prepare the report employing the following approach: • Narrative style versus bulleted style • Use of characteristic quotes to illustrate main conclusions • Sequence analysis both by themes and question by question • Verification of report by partners • Revision and finalisation of the report following verification
  20. 20. Page 20 of 26 Annex: Materials for the conduction of the focus groups Recruitment e-mail Subject: IMPADA project – Invitation to participate in a focus group on the evaluation criteria of Adult Education on disadvantaged Dear Sir / Madam We would like to invite you to participate in a focus group, which aims at developing a set of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of Adult Education provided to disadvantaged groups As an expert in the field of Adult Education, we consider your input to be vital. The focus group will take 1-2 hours of your time and it will be organized in Place/Address on the date of the focus group organisation. Please check your availability and confirm or (if unavailable) select an alternative date here (doodle link). (N.B. all times stated are Central European Time). In case of any difficulties / enquiries please do not hesitate to contact …….: contact e- mail Thank you for your contribution. Signature ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The IMPADA project is a Strategic Partnership that aims at improving the effectiveness of adult education for disadvantaged groups and it is being funded under ERASMUS+ Programme.
  21. 21. Page 21 of 26 Focus Groups Confirmation Letter Once a group of viable recruits has been established, call each one to confirm interest and availability. Give them times and locations of the focus groups and secure verbal confirmation. Tell them you will mail (or email) them a written confirmation and call to remind them two days before the scheduled group. Over-invite in anticipation of a no-show rate of 10 to 20 percent. But you will never want a group of more than 10 participants. Month Date, 2015 Dear ________________, Thank you for your willingness to participate in our focus group. As discussed on the phone, we would like to hear your ideas and opinions about the criteria of effectiveness of adult education on disadvantaged groups. You will be in a group with 6 to 9 other persons relevant to the subject. Your responses to the questions will be kept anonymous. The date, time, and place are listed below. Please look for signs once you arrive directing you to the room where the focus group will be held. DATE: TIME: PLACE: If you need directions to the focus group or will not be able to attend for any reason please call xxxxxxx xxxxxx at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Otherwise we look forward to seeing you. Sincerely, XXX Name of the organization
  22. 22. Page 22 of 26 Introductory remarks Once consent forms and demographic surveys are collected and reviewed for completeness, the questioning begins. The moderator uses a prepared script to welcome participants, remind them of the purpose of the group and also sets ground rules. FOCUS GROUP INTRODUCTION WELCOME Thanks for agreeing to be part of the focus group. We appreciate your willingness to participate. INTRODUCTIONS Moderator; assistant moderator PURPOSE OF FOCUS GROUPS On behalf of the IMPADA partnership we conduct this focus group. The reason we are having this focus groups is to identify criteria that influence the effectiveness of adult education on disadvantaged groups. We need your input and want you to share your honest and open thoughts with us. GROUND RULES 1. WE WANT YOU TO DO THE TALKING. We would like everyone to participate. I may call on you if I haven't heard from you in a while. 2. THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS Every person's experiences and opinions are important. Speak up whether you agree or disagree. We want to hear a wide range of opinions. 3. WHAT IS SAID IN THIS ROOM STAYS HERE We want group participants to feel comfortable sharing when sensitive issues come up. 4. WE WILL BE TAPE RECORDING THE GROUP We want to capture everything you have to say. We don't identify anyone by name in our report. You will remain anonymous.
  23. 23. Page 23 of 26 Discussion Guide Introductory questions/ice-braking What does the term “adult education for disadvantaged groups” bring to mind? 1 What could be improved in the adult education programmes for disadvantaged groups in order to improve its effectiveness? 2 What should be included in the adult education for the disadvantaged training programmes? Probe: What are the training needs of adult learners from disadvantaged groups? 3 What kind of knowledge, skills and competences do trainers for adult learners need in order to provide effective education to learners from disadvantaged groups? 4 What kind of qualifications, should trainers hold in order to provide effective adult education to disadvantaged groups? 5 What characteristics should training institutions have in order to provide effective adult education for the disadvantaged? Probes: In terms of training staff, infrastructure, values, funding? Other? 6 What could be improved in the adult education provided to disadvantaged groups in order to deal with the issue of group heterogeneity? 7 As concerns the effect of adult education provision in the learners’ life: what are the areas that could provide input for the assessment of the education provided? Probes: with regards to employability, financial independence, social inclusion, feeling of personal fulfillment, health and wellbeing (physical and psychological) 8 Do you have any other ideas, proposals, suggestions, and second thoughts on the improvement of criteria for adult education effectiveness on disadvantaged?
  24. 24. Page 24 of 26 Focus group identity form Focus Group Date: Number of participants: Description of participants: P1: Position/Expertise: Age: Gender: P2: Position/Expertise: Age: Gender: P3: Position/Expertise: Age: Gender: Pn: Position/Expertise: Age: Gender: Focus Group Duration: Yes: No:
  25. 25. Synthesized focus group data form Question Main Points / basic Ideas Indicative quotes to illustrate basic ideas Debate points Aligned Opinions Other significant notes / issues 1 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 2 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 3 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 4 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 5 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 6 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n.
  26. 26. Page 26 of 26 7 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 8 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n. 1. 2. 3. n.

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