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Focus Group Hints

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Focus groups are the most common format for qualitative research. These usually consist of groups of eight to ten respondents who are led through a series of questions in a conversational, free-flowing manner by a professional moderator. The group usually starts out discussing a broad topic but ends up focusing on one or two key areas/aspects of that topic that are the key elements of the focus group and the reason it was held in the first place. The value of a focus group is that group members will exchange ideas and build upon these ideas to generate more of the information for which you are searching. But focus groups are not brainstorming sessions; they are held to understand how people feel and think about a program, service or issue that is of importance to you.

If you think you want to hold a focus group, ask yourself the following questions before writing the questions you will ask your participants and to prepare and develop specific objectives:

Hints: If you decide to use focus groups:

Sample Focus Group Script offered by Simply Better! Continuous Improvement:

(Note: the main purpose of this focus group was to solicit information about employee involvement. Remember, this is a script outline to serve as a discussion guide for the moderator and is not intended to read like a questionnaire for the focus group participants.)

STAGE 1 INTRODUCTION

Icebreaker: What kind of work do you do for _____.

1. How do you feel about _________ agency?

STAGE 2 TRANSITION

2. How do you participate in decisions about work?

3. What are your feelings about being involved in decisions about work?

4. What do you think of other employees representing your needs and interests before agency staff?

STAGE 3 IN-DEPTH

5. Thinking about your experience participating in decisions at this agency, do any problems come up when participating in decisions?

6. When you think about participating in ____, how do you feel about what's going on?

7. When does the agency seek your input?

8. When you talk with senior staff about work, what are you most interested in telling them?

9. Has your involvement in _____ agency decisions about the _____affected your overall feelings about working here?

10. Is there a downside to providing input? Are there times when you don't want to participate in decisions?

STAGE 4 CONCLUSION

11. You've told me that you give input to X. How do you want them to use it? What do you expect them to do with the input you provide?


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