Focus Group

A Focus Group is a systematic group interview. This simple and fast method can be used as a survey tool. The group members’ assessment of the most important factors on a particular issue constitute the basis for this method.

The survey work is frequently combined with evaluation of quality assessment of an activity.

The group rates issues they find important, and this evaluation can create the basis for deciding the issues one might want to concentrate on.

The greatest advantage of the method is that it is based on dialogue and participation, and that summarizing and reporting the results can be done quickly. Focus groups are commonly used to find the right questions before a questionnaire is distributed or; conversely, to perform an in-depth analysis after interviews or surveys have been canducted.

The method is also suitable for documentating programs or plans, or as an attitude survey (opinion poll) on a particular matter.

The composition of the focus groups can be adjusted according to one’s curiousity and interest. For example, groups may be comprised of only women or men, or maybe mixed. Having a clear purpose and analysing the results in the light of the group composition is a significant matter.

The stepwise stages of the method are,

  1. Invitation: include
    a) That participants are well-informed of the process and group structure
    b) The purpose of the interview/survey
    c) The purpose the interview/suvey will be used for
    d) Length of the survey/interview
    e) A brief explanaition of the procedure
  2. Determine factors: all factors identified by the group should correspond to the question ‘What is important to you in order to….’. The group determines the factors together.
  3. Weigh the factors: in this step the group identifies the most important factors. This is done by assigning points to the factors.
  4. Evaluate the factors: The participants disregard the weights assigned in the previous step and assess all the factors based on the current situation of the activity or organisation.
  5. Present results: the results show the gap between the weighing and evaluating stages.
    a) Present the ranking
    b) Present the grading
  6. Analyse: how does the group react to the results?

Asking the same question in several groups makes the results more certain. If the group is diverse, additional analyses can indicate whether multiple target groups perceive factors differently.

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