While quantitative research can describe what and the intensity of respondents’ opinions, we need to use an additional tool to explore the “whys”.
Enter the Focus Group. A focus group is a qualitative approach to research. We are able to sit down and discuss a panel’s “why”‘s. We discuss perceptions, subtleties, and attitudes towards subjects in smaller, intimate group settings.
Our focus groups are conducted by a skilled moderator and recorded for later analysis.
What Focus Groups can tell you:
- Give information on how groups of people think or feel about a particular topic
- Give greater insight into why certain opinions are held
- Help improve the planning and design of new programs
- Provide a means of evaluating existing programs
- Produce insights for developing strategies for outreach
What Focus Groups canNOT tell you:
- Valid information about individuals
- Valid “before-and-after” information (how things have changed over time)
- Information that you can apply generally to other groups of people
Because the idea of focus groups is to take advantage of group interactions, it is important to use the information at the group level, not the individual level. Also, because focus groups are usually made up of a very small number of people who voluntarily participate, you cannot assume that their views and perceptions represent those of other groups that might have slightly different characteristics. They are not “random samples”.
source: University of Arizona
A focus group is not:
- A debate
- Group therapy
- A conflict resolution session
- A problem solving session
- An opportunity to collaborate
- A promotional opportunity
- An educational session
source: Duke University
- Guidelines for Conducting a Focus Group from: https://assessment.aas.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf
- USING FOCUS GROUPS FOR EVALUATION, Mary Marczak & Meg Sewell from: http://ag.arizona.edu/sfcs/cyfernet/cyfar/focus.htm