Setting up a focus group is a great way to gather feedback on your online delivery. By collecting feedback, you can work out what aspects of your module are working effectively for your students, and which aspects they would prefer to see with some changes. The following are some tips on how you can set up and manage an effective focus group.
Decide why you’re running the focus group
As a starting point, focus on the problems that you are aware already exist when writing up your questions or discussion topics for the group. If you aren’t sure why you are setting up a focus group, you may struggle to pinpoint the problems that need to be addressed. You want to think about the issues that you’re wanting to solve using the information collected during the session.
The aim of the session is to get a range of different opinions from different demographics so that you can amend your online learning material to suit a wider range of people. Therefore, you should aim to have a diverse range of participants if possible, who all represent members of your target audience. Do you have a mix of mature students and younger students in your cohort? Are some students better with technology than others? You could also ask colleagues who are familiar with eLearning to be part of the group.
Consider the group parameters and expectations
Ideally your focus group should last no longer than an hour to maintain high engagement throughout. Consider the schedule of the participants and set up the group at a suitable time for the majority. This is important to ensure that the focus group don’t feel inconvenienced when participating.
Another aspect to consider is the technological limitations of your focus group. If you are planning on hosting the focus group online, you will need to bear in mind that some of the participants may only have access to limited technology, reducing their ability to participate. Hosting the group via Microsoft Teams is a viable option for hosting this type of meeting. For more information on hosting group meetings via Teams, try reading this blog: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/03/31/teams-live-event-did-you-know/
Lastly, make the group aware of your expectations before the start of the session. This could be achieved by sending out an email, which states the main goal of the focus group and what is expected from the participants. Sending this out a few days beforehand can give the participants opportunity to ask questions before the session to ensure they fully understand what is expected.
How many participants?
There is no designated number of participants that you should expect to have when hosting a focus group. The aim is to gather opinions from a diverse range of people, whilst still having a manageable group.
Set out an agenda
Set out and share an agenda with the participants before the start of the session. It is usually best to start off with introductions from each participant and then follow on by reviewing each objective in turn. Following this, end the group with a question and answer session, which can help to wrap up any misunderstandings.
Following these tips should help you to achieve an effective focus group session. If you would like any further guidance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org