Focus groups are a great qualitative data-gathering tool. They allow you to ask a group the same questions at the same time rather than conducting individual interviews; not only do you get individual responses, but the very act of participants sharing answers creates synergy that can expand your data as people build on each other’s ideas. Focus groups stimulate more and often deeper level conversation and ideas, building energy and allowing for greater creativity.
In our focus groups, we ask a series of carefully designed, open-ended questions to get the answers you need. Maybe you have some new ideas related to your services or programs that you want to test, or you want opinions on whether an advising approach your department uses works well and how it might be improved. This approach allows you to go directly to the “horse’s mouth” to get feedback. Or maybe you have gathered quantitative data and you want to better understand it. If survey data tells you that your department “needs more diversity” – what does that really mean? What can you do with that data? Focus groups give you more nuanced answers to results from quantitative measures.
What to consider when planning focus groups
This service might be for you if...
Important focus group considerations:
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- What is the right make-up of the groups?
- How many groups do you need to get “good” data?
- How “good” does your data need to be? (There is a continuum from “we just want some feedback” to “this needs to be scientifically reliable data that we can share with the President’s Cabinet.” Each place on that continuum requires a different level of planning and rigor).
- Should we have heterogeneous or homogeneous groups?
- How many people do we invite per group?
- How many groups to have?
- How do we actually get people to come (no easy feat)?
- What incentives work best (pizza or gift cards, etc.)?
- How should we record the data?
- How can we best cull the data and develop useful themes that will allow your group to make the decisions you need to make?
- Should CLOC facilitate the focus group meetings or train our facilitators on the special skills required to illicit the richest, most useful data?
This service might be for you if:
- You need good qualitative data.
- You need to know what your stakeholders really want or need from you in order for you to make good quality decisions.
- Focus group data would help you in your strategic planning process.
- New ideas or program plans need to be test-marketed.
- Focus groups can help you generate new and expansive ideas.
- Customer feedback would greatly improve your service delivery.