Using Focus Groups to Listen, Learn, and Lead in Higher Education

Foreword by Jillian Kinzie
Paper: 978 1 62036 597 7 / $32.50
Published: August 2018  

Cloth: 978 1 62036 596 0 / $95.00
Published: August 2018  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 598 4 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: August 2018  

E-Book: 978 1 62036 599 1 / $25.99
Published: August 2018  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
210 pp., 6" x 9"
Using Focus Groups to Listen, Learn, and Lead in Higher Education presents an easy-to-use 6-step guide to help leaders in higher education listen to and learn from their stakeholders in order to enhance decision making. The big questions facing institutions today, especially those surrounding access, affordability, and accountability, require more than dashboards. Metrics and quantitative data alone do not offer lasting solutions and improvements. Using qualitative methods to listen to the voices of those involved, especially students and staff, is critical. Focus groups constitute the most appropriate, rigorous, and relevant qualitative research tool for this purpose, and one that is cost-effective and builds community when conducted using the ODU Method described in this book.

Using Focus Groups is a single, comprehensive, and practical resource that describes why, when, and how to use focus groups. The authors provide detailed guidance for using focus groups, from developing the research questions with stakeholders, through training and recruiting moderators, and identifying and recruiting participants, to the logistics of conducting focus groups, and ultimately analyzing data and developing final reports. Conversational vignettes illustrate the discussions that regularly occur in each step and help the reader better understand the process. Fifteen appendices provide templates and examples of every part of the process.

Written particularly for institutional research and assessment staff and upper-level administrators, this book will also appeal to deans, department and program chairs and directors, faculty leaders, and administrative unit directors, including those in auxiliary and student services, alumni associations, and university foundations. It also serves as an excellent resource for higher education research methods courses.

The authors are uniquely positioned to guide readers in this process. The team developed and refined this technique over two decades at Old Dominion University. They have conducted over 100 focus groups with campus, nonprofit, local, and international community organizations to assist them in assessing student learning, transition, and preparedness for the workforce, as well as evaluating organizations work and planning future projects.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Jillian Kinzie

1) Exploring the Big Questions in Higher Education: Access, Affordability, Accountability
2) Using Focus Groups to Listen, Learn, and Lead: The ODU Method for Conducting Focus Groups
3) Step #1: Develop a Research Proposal, Define the Purpose, and Write Research Questions: To Do or Not to Do a Focus Group
4) Step #2: Select Participants and Subsets of Participants: Choose Wisely
5) Step #3: Design the Moderator’s Guide: A Cookbook Approach
6) Step #4: Select and Train the Moderators: The Research Tool
7) Step #5: Conduct the Focus Groups: It’s All About Logistics
8) Step #6: Analyze the Data and Report the Results: So What Does it All Mean?
9) The Best Laid Plans: When to Just Say “No” or to Create Plans B Through E



Reviews & Endorsements:
“I know personally that the results obtained from well-designed and executed focus groups can provide information that campus administrators need to make programmatic and strategic decisions. The authors used focus groups to help me learn more about the culture, values, and critical issues facing the campus when I became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Old Dominion University. This book is the next best thing to having them at your institution.”
- Augustine O. Agho, Ph.D, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs , Old Dominion University
"A friendly, practical, and principled DIY guide, Using Focus Groups will help educators at any type of institution. Its process approach aims for the relevance of qualitative research combined with the rigor of quantitative methods. Guiding readers from first steps through data analysis and reporting, the book offers extended vignettes as well as templates and models. Engaging both faculty and staff in the process, the book identifies resources ready to hand on every campus."
- Susan Albertine, Senior Scholar , Association of American Colleges & Universities