Focus Groups: Soliciting Feedback – Designing Solutions

A focus group is a qualitative method based on small group interactive discussion that provides researchers in a range of academic fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, health, education, and communication with data that will help them to evaluate user requirements, define research problems, generate hypotheses, investigate attitudes, thoughts, and preferences, test early versions of services and products, and even figure out subconscious motivations behind certain choices or practices. Focus groups are behind almost anything you buy, see, or do. Hollywood, for example, runs test screenings to which random movie goers have to respond, thus determining the future of a production.

On the 6th and 9th of May, Costas Papadopoulos and Susan Schreibman, delivered two workshops on Focus Group at the University College Maastricht.  Two groups of 25 students each used a scenario-based hands-on approach to learn how to conduct focus groups. Students learnt who to invite and how; What questions to ask; how to make  people who are reluctant to externalise their thoughts speak; what activities to organize that enable more creative ways for getting feedback; how to deal with group dynamics; and, what are the research ethics that need to be considered.