Conducting The Focus Group
Select The Questions You Will Ask
Carefully determine the focus questions prior to conducting the discussion. Use open-ended questions, as opposed to questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You may wish to ask people to think back to an experience.
During the Focus Group Session
- The moderator meets in a suitable location with the group.
- Provide a welcome
- Provide an overview of the topic and ground rules
- Ask the pre-determined questions
Start with an opening question, and allow each person to respond (round robin). The sequence of the questions should go from general to specific. Consider having cues or prompts that help participants recall specific features or details. The ending question should ask participants to offer their opinions and reflect on the discussion.
The Role Of The Moderator
The moderator is responsible for asking the set of questions. An assistant moderator can ensure that all the information is captured.
- The moderator should be skilled in interview techniques and support all (both the shy and the ramblers) to participate in the conversation.
- Moderators are responsible for NOT giving their opinions in the discussion.
- While still in the group, the moderator and assistant moderator listen and note any inconsistent comments, vague comments, and then follow-up to increase understanding.
- Record information using a tape recorder and/or written notes.
See the online lecture: "The Art and Science of Interviewing Groups: Focus Group Fundamentals," by Professor Elizabeth J. Kramer, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
George, M. 2012. Teaching focus group interviewing: benefits and challenges. Teaching Sociology 41(3) 257–270. American Sociological Association 2012. DOI: 10.1177/0092055X12465295