Focus Groups


A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.


FocusGroupIt is an easy, fast and low cost (free) way to gather qualitative feedback online. In order to make the best decisions possible, organizations should be using both quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (focus group) methods. There are many great choices available for capturing quantitative data using do-it-yourself survey platforms like SurveyMonkey, but almost no choices available for gathering qualitative feedback. Hence, FocusGroupIt was born…

How to Learn Focus Groups

Image from Gonway Professional Development

May be included in qualitative research methods graduate classes.

Faculty and administration on campus is often involved in groups and committees and projects of some sort. Ask around and see if there are focus groups happening around a topic you are interested in that you could observe.

A great book to read: Doing Democracy in Circles by J. Ball, W. Caldwell, & K. Pranis (2010)While this book is primarily written for planners, there are many applicable skills for focus groups and also for dispute resolution. Includes skills for public participation. Inclusive involvement, awareness of potential for the majority rule and to operate oppressively, consciously created safe spaces, emphasis on “circles” with the idea that circles can be an expression of democracy, deep listening to one another, and striving to understand the “whole story” are examples of tools from the book that could be integrated into focus group settings, some more or less depending on the specific situation at hand.

Associations and Journals

home_coverQualitative Inquiry provides an interdisciplinary forum for qualitative methodology and related issues in the human sciences. The journal publishes refereed research articles that experiment with manuscript form and content, and focus on methodological issues raised by qualitative research rather than the content or results of the research. Qualitative Inquiry also addresses advances inspecific methodological strategies or techniques.

More Information/Resources

Written by: Sarai Lucarelli
Last updated: 4 October 2014

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