Introduction to Focus Group Interviewing Research Methods


This course introduces the skills needed to conduct focus group interviews. Students will learn about the critical components of successful focus group research. They will develop a plan for a focus group study and then practice key skills. Attention will be placed on moderating, recruiting, developing questions, and analysis of focus groups. This course will be particularly applicable for those conducting focus group research in academic, non-profit, and government settings.

Course Topics:

The course will cover these skills:

  • Planning—When to use focus groups and designing a study
  • Recruiting—Identifying information-rich participants and getting them to show up
  • Hosting—Creating a permissive and nonthreatening environment
  • Moderating—The crucial first few minutes and moderating techniques
  • Developing questions—Characteristics of good focus group questions
  • Analyzing—Options for analysis
  • Reporting—Options for sharing what was learned

Course Format

The course format includes daily lectures along with opportunities to practice critical skills in small groups.

Why Take This Course?

Focus groups are used to understand issues, pilot test ideas, and evaluate programs. They also provide great insight when used in combination with surveys. Focus groups have been used to help design surveys, to pilot test surveys, and to understand survey findings. Take this course if you want to learn more about how focus groups might add to your research toolbox.

Prerequisite: An introductory course in research methods or equivalent experience.

Survmeth 652 (1 credit hour)