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Tools for Qualitative Researchers: Focus Groups Method

This section includes:

Description of a focus group
The pros and cons of using focus groups
Potential focus group participants

What is A Focus Group?

Focus Group (FG) is a type of in-depth interview, during the data collection stage of a research project. The researcher invites informants whose characteristics represent those of the target research population, and collect data by engaging the participants in conversations. The focus or object of analysis is the interaction inside the group.

The questions asked in a focus group are similar to those asked in an one-on-one interview.


Why Use Focus Group Interview?


There are several advantages in using focus group interview:

It is comparatively easy to conduct

It is economically efficient

It generates opportunity to collect data from the group interaction

It gives speed in the supply of the results

It allows a relatively large sample size for a qualitative study


There are, however, disadvantages in using focus group interview:

The research is not carried out in a natural setting; and the researcher has less control over the data generated

The data may be difficult to analyze

The interviewer must have good interview skills

Assembling a group may require additional resources


Potential Focus Group Participants

In doing research on teaching, learning, and assessment, focus groups candidates include:

1. Faculty active in teaching, learning, and assessment activities
2. Students
3. Student Affairs staff
4. Student assessment committee members
5. Institutional research staff who work with student data




Freitas, H., Oliveira, M., Jenkins, M., & Popjoy, O. (1998, Feb). The Focus Group, a qualitative research method. Working Paper ISRC No. 010298. ISRC, Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore. Baltimore, MD.



Resources on this Page

Focus Groups Method
Description of a Focus Group

Pros and Cons

Potential Focus Group Participants

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Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research