Have you ever been in a focus group that worked?
July 21, 2021 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to understand the dynamics of a successful focus/study group. What has worked for you?

I've taken a couple of courses recently where it's recommended that people form a focus group. The format is remote zoom sessions of around 5 people where one person takes a turn on the hot seat so that session they discuss their progress in the course and obstacles with input from others.

I'm curious if this works, or if people have been in a focus group that worked for them to get through an online course? What format did the group use? How did it organize? Did the course moderators organize the group members or did people self-select into the group?

The value created by being in the group should in theory be greater than the hassles of setting it up and getting people to attend. What's worked for you in the past, or not worked?
posted by diode to Education (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've never heard that refered to as a focus group, might be a country/language difference. In the US a focus group is specifically a technique for gathering group feedback for someone else, not a group to benefit the members.

Honestly that format sounds very intimidating to me if it would be done with strangers. For the online graduate classes I have been taking, the study groups have been informal and focused around WhatsApp. That allows the students to ask informal questions whenever they are studying, and then get together with live chat before a big test or project. I have found it to be important for one person (it can rotate) to have a study agenda for the session, but I would not want to participate in a group with strangers where I had to tell them what I was having trouble with.
posted by JZig at 8:26 AM on July 21


I’ve done these and if people participate I vastly prefer group email or chat so questions don’t have to be asked on the spot and others can reply at their leisure.

If doing video, I would recommend a strong leader/moderator (can rotate or stay fixed) and I would set the expectation that people can just ask a question and not say how they feel they’re doing.
posted by michaelh at 9:00 AM on July 21


I'm doing one in my fourth year painting course (humanities, not BFA.) Everyone presents their progress and we essentially problem-solve and encourage each other. I think the value is mostly in the deadline of the group weekly meetings - our final project is a lengthy exploration project and so it kind of cuts the procrastination/creative block off at the knees. These are short sessions - 5 people per group, 3-4 minutes each.

For me it's great. I wouldn't call it a focus group but that's just a language thing.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:14 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


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