Seeking Interaction in the Focus Group Method

There is an article that ran in Research Design Review back in 2013 having to do with the interactions that ensue in focus group discussions. Specifically, this article addresses the idea that participants’ interactions have a significant impact on the outcomes of focus group discussions and yet this “facet of the focus group method…is largely ignored in the analysis and reporting of group research.” This article goes on to give an example of a way to think about the interaction effect in the focus group method.

Missing from this article is the question of whether – or the extent to which – interactions even exist in the discussions being analyzed. It seems self-evident that a “discussion” would involve two or more people exchanging ideas and thoughts – that is, an interaction. And yet, one of the most difficult skills to teach in focus group training is how to ignite an interactive environment where participants engage with the moderator as well as with each other. Moderators-in-training are coached on various skills and techniques to spur thoughtful discourse in face-to-face* focus groups and how to create an “engaged discussion environment,” but Read Full Text

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Margaret Roller provides qualitative instruction including workshops and training that are designed to give the staff at university, corporate, and nonprofit organizations the skills and tools they need to design, conduct, analyze and/or report qualitative research studies that ultimately foster targeted, meaningful, and effective directions for the organization or sponsoring client. The sessions can run 1-3 days or be as brief as a lunch and learn. The scope of each workshop or training is tailored to the needs of the organization depending on the skill level of attendees and the organization’s ultimate objective.

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