Train-the-Trainer Workshop for the Czech Evaluation Society--moving graduates of THE FOUNDATIONS workshop forward conducting focus group training for others in their own organization, community, region, and country.
The international refugee crisis that has affected countries around the world brings our attention to why focus groups with refugees are important. Statistics, numbers, and demographic reports are essential, but the voices of refugees bring into relief the realities of everyday traumas and disastrous consequences of refugee status for individuals, families, and communities. Individual interviews (key informant interviews) with refugee agency staff and managers, refugees, country representatives,, and NGOs help us see more clearly why this crisis feels so overwhelming to all involved.
Focus groups with refugees allow us to understand better how people become refugees in the first place, how they manage to escape the conditions that threaten them, how they fare under the often deplorable conditions of temporary/transitional arrangements (such as refugee camps), and--for the lucky 1 per cent who are accepted by a third country--how resettlement and integration proceed. Janet Mancini Billson is addressing these and other questions in her new book, Canadian Mosaic: The Refugee Journey to Resettlement and Hope. The data for this study of seven refugee groups in Canada are based primarily on focus groups. Listening to or reading their words reminds us of the power of focus groups.
All methodological approaches have weaknesses and strengths, disadvantages and advantages. Learning to train others in systematic, scientific focus group research improves a powerful--and increasingly utilized--qualitative methodology. See the "Train-the-Trainer button above for more information. Let's give the fishing pole, not just the fish!
Why focus groups?????
Mixed-methods research is the most reliable and predictive of solid data. Combining survey/statistical data with qualitative data from focus groups and/or key informant interviews can quickly boost reliability of results.
Focus groups and key informant interviews yield qualitative rather than quantitative data (words rather than numbers). If you need quantitative data, consider using feedback forms, surveys, or secondary analysis of existing statistical data. Unfortunately, many focus groups are poorly designed, biased, and badly moderated. The good news is that proper training and certification of skills can overcome the weakness of this method. Focus groups should be a strong pillar in the mixed methods (or "triangulation") approach. Training and experience are essential.
Serial individual interviews can yield some quantitative as well as quantitative data--because the data points are gathered discretely from individuals, some quantification of responses can be attempted if there are at least 30 cases. For example, 65 interviews with students in different start-up companies can provide qualitative insights into challenges of coordinating national, regional, and local planning requirements. At the same time, the analysis can look at how many respondents out of 65 see company leaders as contributing to solving those challenges or making them more complex.
Plus ON-SITE FOCUS GROUP TRAINING DATES TAILORED TO YOUR NEEDS
Comprehensive Research, Focus Group Training, and Facilitation for Group Effectiveness
Group Dimensions International