CETL—Focus Group Evaluations

How could I run a focus group?

A focus group is a method of course evaluation in which an external facilitator divides the class into small groups of between four and eight.  The facilitator asks the groups to respond to specific questions about the course and its teaching. Each group is allotted about 10 minutes to discuss their responses, with one member of the group acting as a scribe. Once these discussions have concluded, the facilitator leads a session for the entire class with each group sharing its responses. The facilitator captures these ideas on the board (and later in a notebook). These student responses, as well as the notes collected from the scribes, are subsequently compiled into a report for the faculty member.

A CETL staff member is ideally placed to facilitate this session, since it is often easier for students to share their thoughts with an outsider to the department. As with the one-minute paper, the students retain their anonymity in this process.