A Focus Group is a type of in-depth interview accomplished in a group, whose meetings present characteristics defined with respect to the proposal, size, composition, and interview procedures. (FREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.)., 1998). The use of focus groups carries advantages and disadvantages that could affect the qualitative research results.
To better understand how this qualitative research method is used, we analyzed a case study named: “Studying internationalization on campus” held by students from the University of Western Australia. In this case study, had the commitment to discover if the internationalization experiences a student lives by studying abroad, provides a similar benefit to the students in campus that interact with the foreign student.
With the aim of obtaining well-founded results, students designed a research project utilizing both focus groups and one-on-one interviews. These findings helped mitigate some disadvantages from both interviews and focus groups might present such as trying to generalize an observation by an interviewed response, or not giving voice to a particular group of people at a focus group.
At this project, students had to design and find the suitable questions to be used at the focus group and at the interview. The goal of a focus group is to generate discussion between the participants to get to know different perspectives, evaluate different ideas and develop new insights for which you need certain questions which encourage group dialog rather than individual responses. Unlike when you do an interview where what you’re looking for is to hear from the individual experiences.
As mentioned before, this research was held by students through two different methods, interview and focus group. As explained before, interviews to different actors have specific answers and conclusions from the interviewee. Meanwhile, focus group generate discussed conclusions in which all participants agree and participated with more openness than by itself. The example shown at the study case, refers to a conclusion that everyone by itself had about why local students didn’t engage with international students. At the interviews everyone blamed local students for their lack of interest. Otherwise at the focus group, they concluded why local students had lack of interest, a more helpful answer since gives you a root cause of the problem and specific action plans that can be developed.
Key findings from the focus group questions are encompassed in these three main themes:
As mentioned before, one of the key findings the students doing the research had, were that recruitment wasn’t as easy as they thought. They found out people is not willing to help on focus groups or activities in which they need to put effort on. Students underestimated the process that needs to be done to get a group of people big and committed enough to have a good research finished. In this case, students concluded that personal engagement and reminders where the best way to get a good focus group.
In conclusion, focus groups are a good qualitative research method which help researchers find out conclusions and ideas to implement further actions. When holding a focus group, a researcher should have: a very well-defined goal, with specific questions that propitiate discussion and look for conclusions from the participants and establish a well-done process to have a successful recruitment.
BibliographyFREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.). (1998). The Focus Group, a qualitative research method. ISRC, Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore, 22.
McKenzie, L & Baldassar, L 2017. 'Studying internationalization on campus: lessons from an undergraduate qualitative research project' [online]. SAGE Research Methods cases. https://methods.sagepub.com/case/srmpromo/KZsIeF/studying-internationalization-campus-undergraduate-qualitative-research
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