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Leading focusgroups 012814


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Leading focusgroups 012814

  1. 1. Leading Focus Groups Honora N. Eskridge Consultant, DJA Director of Centennial Campus Research Services at North Carolina State University
  2. 2. Benefits: Focus Groups: Why? – Group dialogue (with no pressure for consensus) provides rich information and diversity of ideas – Provides insight on real experiences “on the ground” from the experts – A lot of info at low cost Limitations: – Facilitator bias – “Groupthink” – Not always generalizable to the broader population
  3. 3. Focus Groups: When? • Most effective in the early/design stages of a project • When you have time/when you can still change course • Purpose is to get candid feedback with the opportunity for follow up • When the research questions are appropriate for group discussion
  4. 4. • Basic principles: Planning & Designing – Homogenous groups – Small (3 – 8 persons) – Neutral moderator + notetaker (also manages recorder) – Script – Comfortable, neutral, distraction-free setting – Everyone sitting so they can see and hear each other – Food is good! – IRB?
  5. 5. The Script • Start with an easy warm up question • Structure questions from general to specific • Write open-ended questions (hint: if you can answer yes or no to it, it’s not open ended) • Test the script for time and flow (6 questions = 1 hour)
  6. 6. Facilitating Focus Groups • The participants are the experts – e.g., never correct them, if possible use as an opportunity to get more information • Moderator should have some familiarity with the community – e.g. hot button topics • Finding a balance between a rapport and professional distance of a researcher
  7. 7. Listening & Responding • Body language is very important (yours and theirs) • Neutrality in your response (don’t defend, justify or elaborate) • Use probes to clarify – Tell me more? Can you elaborate? What do you mean by…? – Don’t paraphrase, if you have to, mirror
  8. 8. • Don’t interrupt • Don’t lead (“don’t you think that…”) • Don’t finish thoughts • Don’t rush the participant • Balance between silence and keeping things moving Listening & Responding
  9. 9. Managing Time • Finding a balance between letting people talk and keeping things moving • Structure of the script is critical in terms of length and flow of questions • To move things along -– Watch/listen for opportunities to transition – Acknowledge the time, and that there are some other questions you’d like to ask • Check in on their time
  10. 10. Start With Group Norms • • • • • • • • Confidentiality One person speaks at a time Avoid side conversations Everyone’s opinions are valued We want to hear all sides of an issue (+/-) Equal representation of ideas Comfort End on time
  11. 11. • The script plus Create a Facilitation Guide – Introductory remarks – Norms and other ground rules – When the recorder is being turned on – Closing remarks – Information about follow up • Sample
  12. 12. For more information on bringing a workshop or training session to your institution, visit our website: Or contact us directly: (312) 870-9596