Supporting the Engagement of Graduate Students and Novice Evaluators: Focus Group Training to Bridge the Gap Among Diverse Participants

[Speaker] Moret, Lauren:1
[Co-author] Morrow, Jennifer A:1, Skolits, Gary J:1
1:University of Tennessee (United States of America)

Focus groups as a method has moved from beyond market research to a viable social science research tool whereby the interview becomes a space of shared experience integral to qualitative understanding among diverse participants. When facilitated responsibly, focus groups enable members to co-construct concepts and meaning (Kuhn, 1962) less likely to arise from a direct, one-on-one interview or other data generation format (Wong, 2008) creating an opportunity for researchers. As a result, focus groups can support a variety of research paradigms spanning theoretical frameworks, research purposes, procedures, and people (Mertens, 2015). This presentation overviews one, American program's best practices and suggestions for training graduate students and novice evaluators on how to conduct focus groups and collect data from diverse participants, including characteristics of leaders, word choice, roles within the facilitation group, organization of the space, props, what to wear, and how to troubleshoot issues as they arise in the field.
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