Sample Focus Group Topic Guide
1 This guide was designed for year one participants one year after they had participated in training (month 22 of project).
Evaluation Questions: Are the students taught by faculty participants exposed to new standards, materials, practices? Did this vary by faculty member? By students' characteristics? Were there obstacles to changes?; What did the participants do to share knowledge with other faculty? Did other faculty adopt new concepts and practices?; Were changes made in curriculum? Examinations and other requirements? Expenditures for library and other resource materials? Did students taught by participants become more interested in class work? More active in class? Did they express interest in teaching math after graduation? Did they plan to use new concepts and techniques?
Give an explanation
Good afternoon. My name is _______ and this is my colleague ______.
Thank you for coming. A focus group is a relaxed discussion.....
Present the purpose
We are here today to talk about your teaching experiences since you participated in the Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement workshops. The purpose is to get your perceptions of how the workshops have affected your teaching, your students, other faculty, and the curriculum. I am not here to share information, or to give you my opinions. Your perceptions are what matter. There are no right or wrong or desirable or undesirable answers. You can disagree with each other, and you can change your mind. I would like you to feel comfortable saying what you really think and how you really feel.
______ (colleague) will be taking notes and tape recording the discussion so that I do not miss anything you have to say. I explained these procedures to you when we set up this meeting. As you know everything is confidential. No one will know who said what. I want this to be a group discussion, so feel free to respond to me and to other members in the group without waiting to be called on. However, I would appreciate it if only one person did talk at a time. The discussion will last approximately one hour. There is a lot I want to discuss, so at times I may move us along a bit.
Now, let's start by everyone sharing their name, what they teach, and how long they've been teaching.
I want each of you to think of an adjective that best described your teaching prior to the workshop experience and one that describes it following the experience. If you do not think your teaching has changed, you may select one adjective. We're going to go around the room so you can share your choices. Please briefly explain why you selected the adjective(s) you did.
What types of standards-based practice have you exposed students to since your participation in the workshops?
Probes: If there were standards not mentioned - Has anyone exposed students to ______?
If not - Why not?
Would you have exposed students to these practices if you had not participated in the workshops?
Probes: Where would you have gotten this information? How would the information have been different?
How have you exposed students to these practices since completing the workshops?
Probes: Tell me more about that. How did that work?
Of the materials introduced to you through the workshops, which ones have you used?
Probes: Had you used these prior to the workshops? Tell me more about why you used these. Tell me more about how you used these. Of the materials not mentioned -- Has anyone used _______? Tell me why not.
Of these materials, which have you found the most useful?
Probes: Tell me more about why you have found this most useful. Of the materials not mentioned - Why haven't you found _______ useful? How could it be more useful?
Of the strategies introduced to you through the workshops, which ones have you applied to your teaching?
Probes: Tell me about how you have used this strategy. Of the strategies not mentioned - Has anyone tried ______? Tell me why not.
Of these strategies which ones have been most effective?
Probes: Tell me why you think they have been effective.
Which have you found to be least effective?
Probes: Tell me why you think they have not been effective. It's interesting, ______ found that strategy to be effective, what do you think may account for the difference?
What problems/obstacles have you faced in attempting to incorporate into your teaching the knowledge and skills you received through the workshops?
Probes: Tell me more about that.
How many of you have shared information from the workshops with other faculty?
Probes: Tell me about what you shared. Tell me about why you choose to share that aspect of the workshop? How did this happen (through presentations, faculty meetings, informal conversations, etc.) How have the other faculty responded? What concepts and practices have they adopted?
Has your experience in the workshops resulted in efforts, by you, your Chair, and/or Dean to make changes to the curriculum?
Probes: Tell me more about that. Tell me why you think this has/ has not happened.
What about examinations and other requirements?
Similar probes to above
Since completing the workshops, describe for me any changes in your use of the library or resource center and purchase of educational materials.
Probes: How much more money would you say you've spent? Have you faced any problems with obtaining the resources you've requested?
Describe for me any changes you noticed in your students since your participation in the workshops.
Probes: Have their interest levels increased? How do you know that? Why do you think that is? How have your changes affected their active participation? What about their knowledge base? Skills? Anything else?
Describe for me the most beneficial aspects of the workshops for you as an instructor
Probes: That's interesting, tell me more about that.
If you were designing these workshops in the future, how would you improve them?
Probes: Any ideas of how to best do that?
What areas do you feel you need more training in?
Probes: Why do you say that? What would be the best avenue(s) for receiving that training?
Though there were many different opinions about _______, it appears unanimous that _______. Does anyone see it differently? It seems most of you agree ______, but some think that _____. Does anyone want to add or clarify an opinion on this?
Is there any other information regarding your experience with or following the workshops that you think would be useful for me to know?
Thank you very much for coming this afternoon. Your time is very much appreciated and your comments have been very helpful.
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