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Chapter 5

chapter 5

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The focus group interviewdesigned for small groups of individuals,
formed by an investigator and led in a group discussion on some particular
oGroup interactions and discussions as part of the data-gathering
Appropriate uses for focus group interviews:
1.Obtaining general background information about a topic of interest
2.Generating research hypotheses that can be submitted to further
research and testing using more quantitative approaches
3.Stimulating new ideas and creative concepts
4.Diagnosing the potential for problems with a new program, service
or product
5.Generating impressions of products, programs, services,
institutions, or other objects of interest
6.Learning how respondents talk about the phenomenon of interest,
which may facilitate quantitative research tools
7.Interpreting previously obtained qualitative results
Focus group consist of a small number of participants (no more than 7
oLarge groups are difficult to manage and may erode into
fragmented sub-groups
ostrongly motivated participants may monopolize the conversation
(the larger the group is, the more highly motivated individuals
there are in the group)
osmaller groupreducing group think (belief as the result of
subgroup pressure to avoid conflict)

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focus group under the guidance of a facilitatormoderator
The Moderators Role
the moderators job is to draw out information from the participants
regarding topics (like the standard interviewers)
oto encourage subjects to speak freely and completely but to stay on
the topic
focus group interviews—a means for collecting qualitative data in
situations where a one-shot collection is necessary
oe.g. social scientists may remain available for study only for a
limited time
Some Problems to Avoid in Focus Group Interviewing
1.Running a focus group because the investigator doesnt know what else to
oE.g. when a researcher is primarily interested in what some group
does--the survey is the best strategy
oHowever, if interested in why some group is interested in a
particular activity, their attitudes and beliefs about these
activities--a focus group may be useful
2.Being too vague about the objectives of the focus group interview
oPlanning the objectives using a cognitive map is a good method of
assuring that you are clear on why you are using focus group
research, and what sorts of questions you should be including
during the course of the interview
3.Using too few groups

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oa researcher may use a series of several small focus groups—this
allow for emergent results arising during the course of the research
and the introduction of these topics in subsequent focus groups, as
well as comparisons of results between groups
4.Do not over-reach during any given focus group interview
oBe realistic about how many questions a focus group can handle
oMost focus group interview schedules consist of fewer than a dozen
planned questions. The moderator is expected to use his judgement
with regard to probes and adding various questions as additional
topics emerge
5.Do not attempt to use too many individuals in each group
oLarger group=a greater amount of interaction—can create
confusion for a moderator and may lead to superficial results
6.Too much or not enough influence from the moderator
oThe moderator should have a plan on topics and questions but must
also have the latitude to move off the plan in to various areas that
may spontaneously arise.
oThe moderator also must not spend all of the time delving into a
single topic
7.Professional moderators tend to get professional results
oProfessional moderators—keeping participants on point while not
overstaying on a particular topic
oIf focus groups are administered properly a dynamic interaction and
energy can be created (can stimulate discussions)
Brainstormone participant to draw from another
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