Focus Group Interviews: Inspiring Initiatives in Qualitative Inquiry

Education

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  • 1. The world’s libraries. Connected.Inspiring Initiatives inQualitative InquiryFocus Group Interviews:Indianapolis, 12 April 2013ACRL 2013: Imagine, Innovate, InspireLynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph. DSenior Research ScientistOCLC@LynnConnaway
  • 2. The world’s libraries. Connected.Qualitative Research:“Methods focus on observing events from theperspective of those involved and attempt tounderstand why individuals behave as they do.”(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p. 2)
  • 3. The world’s libraries. Connected.Focus group interviews:A face-to-face group interview of a target populationdesigned “to explore in depth the feelings and beliefspeople hold and to learn how these feelings shapeovert behavior”(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p. 173)
  • 4. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Communications research& propaganda analysis• Used in WWII to increasemilitary morale• Underutilized in socialsciencesHistory of Focus Group Interviews(Connaway, Johnson, & Searing, 1997)(Krueger & Casey, 2009)
  • 5. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Understandperceptions &attitudes• Orient to new field• Develop ideas• Evaluating differentresearch populations• Develop & refineresearch instrumentsWhy Focus Group Interviews?(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 6. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Needs assessment• Community analysis• Promotional strategies for newservices• Evaluation of library resources& services• Information-gathering patterns• Development of resources &servicesFocus Group Interviews in LIS Research(Connaway, 1996)
  • 7. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Sense-making theInformation Confluence• Seeking Synchronicity• User-Centered Design of aRecommenderSystem for a "Universal"Library CatalogueFocus Group Interviews in Our Research
  • 8. REPORTINGFINDINGSRECRUITINGPARTICIPANTSPLANNINGDEVELOPINGQUESTIONSMODERATINGCOLLECTING& ANALYZINGDATA
  • 9. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Plan processes• Identify project goals• Evaluate all options• Identify personnel &budgeting• Develop timelinesPlanning(Morgan, 1998)
  • 10. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Decide who will beinterviewed• Typically 5-12 people• As representative aspossible of population• Develop recruitmentscreening & invitationscripts• Determine follow-upproceduresRecruiting Participants(Connaway & Powell, 2010)(Morgan, 1998)
  • 11. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Offer incentives• Payment• Food & beverages• Hold in a comfortable,convenient, informal location• Follow up & send remindersAttracting Participants(Connaway & Powell, 2010)(Morgan, 1998)
  • 12. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Difficult• Little data of user-base• Participants across 3 continents• Hard-to-reach populations• Historians• Antiquarian booksellers• Non-probabilistic methods• Convenience sampling• Snowball samplingWorldCat.org Study Recruitment(Connaway & Wakeling, 2012)
  • 13. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Identify purpose of interview& research question• Should have:• Range• Specificity• Depth• Personal contextDeveloping Questions(Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1990)
  • 14. The world’s libraries. Connected.Categories of Questions• Participants get acquainted, “warmup”Opening• Begins discussion of topicIntroductory• Moves smoothly into key questionsTransition• Areas of central concern in studyKey• Determine where to place emphasis• Brings closureEnding(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 15. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Open-ended• Conversational• Direct, easy wording• Meaning clearly conveyed• Consistent between groupsCharacteristics of Good QuestionsTest and revise your questions!(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 16. The world’s libraries. Connected.Example: WorldCat.orgFocus Group Interview QuestionsQuestion Purpose1. Tell us about your experiences with WorldCat.orgA broad introductory question intended to reveal the extent to whichusers have engaged with WorldCat.org, and the information-seekingcontexts within which they use the system.2. Describe a time when you used WorldCat.org that you considereda success.Explores the features and functions of WorldCat.org thatparticipants view positively. Requiring participants to discuss aparticular instance provides richer data about the range of uses ofthe system.3. Describe a time when using WorldCat.org was unsuccessful –i.e., you did not get what you wanted.Explores the features and functions (or lack thereof) of WorldCat.orgthat participants view negatively.4. Think of a time when you did not find what you were looking for,but did find something else of interest or useful to your work?Intended to encourage discussion about the role of serendipity ininformation seeking, and the extent to which WorldCat.org facilitatesresource discovery .5. If you had a magic wand, what would your ideal WorldCat.orgprovide?Encourages participants to discuss potential improvements toWorldCat.org. The use of the phrase “magic wand” ensures thatparticipants are not restricted by what they believe to be practical orrealistic.
  • 17. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Define role of themoderator• Multiple moderators• Train moderators• Develop questions fordiscussion guide• Identify external props ormaterials• Determine what kind offield notes moderator willtakeModerating(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 18. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Not affiliated withinstitution or organizationconducting the research• No vested interest in results• Trained in focus grouptechniques• Good communication skillsThe Ideal Moderator(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 19. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Guide discussion, remainneutral• Ask open-ended questions• Natural conversationalapproach• Remain flexible toaccommodate natural flowof discussion• Ensure everyone responds ineach question area• Evaluate individual naturesThe Moderator’s Job(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 20. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Interrupt diplomatically• Take a break• Discontinue eye contact• Call on participant byname• Write questions for all toseeDealing with Problem Participants(Krueger, 1998, p.59-63)
  • 21. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Note-taking• Audio recording• After focus group• Organize data & reviewfor completeness• Transcripts• Code-bookCollecting Data(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 22. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Two approaches• Ethnographic summary• Qualitative• Direct quotations• “Thick description”(Geertz, 1973, p.6)• Content analysis approach• Numerical descriptions ofdata• Tallying of mentions ofspecific factors• Can be combinedAnalyzing Datan%(Connaway & Powell, 2010. p.175)(Connaway, Johnson, & Searing, 1997, p. 409)(Geertz,1973. p.6)
  • 23. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Multiple reporting strategies• Remember intended audience• Themes are better• Narrative styleReporting Findings(Krueger, 1998)
  • 24. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations& Recommendations for VirtualReference• Friendly & brief• Intended for library reference staff• 6 chapters• Recommendations• Webinars• Presentations• Panels• Journal articlesReporting Findings: Seeking Synchronicity
  • 25. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Observe large amount ofinteractions in limited time• Efficient & economical• Assess nonverbalresponses• Can be used with hard-to-reach groups• Moderator has a chance toprobe & develop questions• Positive impact on PRStrengths of Focus Group Interviews(Young, 1993)(Connaway, 1996)(Connaway & Powell, 2010. p.176)(Mellinger & Chau, 2010)
  • 26. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Cost• Must have skilledmoderator• Group interview cansuppress individualdifferences• Can foster conformityWeaknesses of Focus Group Interviews(Morgan, 1988)(Connaway, 1996)(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p.177)
  • 27. The world’s libraries. Connected.Connaway, L. S. (1996). Focus group interviews: A data collection methodology. Library Administration &Management, 10(4), 231-39.Connaway, L. S., Johnson, D. W., & Searing, S. (1997). Online catalogs from the users’ perspective: The use of focusgroup interviews. College and Research Libraries, 58(5), 403-420.Connaway, L. S. & Powell, R. R. (2010). Basic research methods for librarians (5th ed.). Westport, Conn: LibrariesUnlimited.Connaway, L. S. & Radford, M. L. (2011). Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and recommendations for virtualreference. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/reports/synchronicity/full.pdfConnaway, L. S., & Wakeling, S. (2012). To use or not to use Worldcat.org: An international perspective from differentuser groups. OCLC Internal Report.Dervin, B., Connaway, L.S., & Prabha, C. 2003-2006 Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows ofcollege and university user satisficing of information needs. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS). http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/past/orprojects/imls/default.htm.Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique. Washington: American Psychological Association.Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books.Selected Bibliography
  • 28. The world’s libraries. Connected.Krueger, R. A. (1998a). Developing questions for focus groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Krueger, R. A. (1998b). Moderating focus groups. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Krueger, R. A. (1998c). Analyzing & reporting focus group results. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2009). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publications.Mellinger, M., & Chau, M. (2010). Conducting focus groups with library staff: Best practices and participantperceptions. Library Management, 31 (4/5), 267-278.Merton, R. K., Lowenthal, M. F., & Kendall, P. L. (1990). The focused interview: A manual of problems and procedures.New York: Free Pree.Morgan, D. L. (1988). Focus groups as qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Morgan, D. L. (1998). Planning focus groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Radford, M. L., & L.S. Connaway. 2005–2008a. Seeking synchronicity: Evaluating virtual reference services from user,non-user, and librarian perspectives. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/synchronicity/default.htmWilson, V. (2012). Research methods: Focus groups. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 7(1), 129-131.Young, V. L. (1993). Focus on focus groups. College and Research Libraries New (7), pp. 391-94.Selected Bibliography
  • 29. The world’s libraries. Connected.Special thanks to Alyssa Darden, OCLCResearch, for assistance in preparation ofthis presentation
  • 30. The world’s libraries. Connected.Questions &DiscussionLynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D.connawal@oclc.org@LynnConnaway
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Description
Presented at ACRL 2013: Imagine, Innovate, Inspire, 12 April 2013, Indianapolis, Indiana (USA).

Assessment is a major challenge and urgent imperative for academic libraries facing a pressing need to discover and use an expanded array of innovative data collection and analytical approaches. Many academic librarians are intrigued by qualitative techniques, yet lack of knowledge of possible applications and analytical tools, and perceptions of their subjective nature act as barriers to their use. This presentation explains the use of the focus group interview technique in academic libraries. It’s a great way to gather information about the nature of work done by librarians, for the evaluation of services and systems, for needs assessment and community analysis, and for identifying behaviors, i.e., how and why students and scholars get their information. Examples from research projects that utilize the focus group interview technique are the catalyst for discussing how to design a study, collect and analyze the data, and report the findings.

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  • 1. The world’s libraries. Connected.Inspiring Initiatives inQualitative InquiryFocus Group Interviews:Indianapolis, 12 April 2013ACRL 2013: Imagine, Innovate, InspireLynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph. DSenior Research ScientistOCLC@LynnConnaway
  • 2. The world’s libraries. Connected.Qualitative Research:“Methods focus on observing events from theperspective of those involved and attempt tounderstand why individuals behave as they do.”(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p. 2)
  • 3. The world’s libraries. Connected.Focus group interviews:A face-to-face group interview of a target populationdesigned “to explore in depth the feelings and beliefspeople hold and to learn how these feelings shapeovert behavior”(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p. 173)
  • 4. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Communications research& propaganda analysis• Used in WWII to increasemilitary morale• Underutilized in socialsciencesHistory of Focus Group Interviews(Connaway, Johnson, & Searing, 1997)(Krueger & Casey, 2009)
  • 5. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Understandperceptions &attitudes• Orient to new field• Develop ideas• Evaluating differentresearch populations• Develop & refineresearch instrumentsWhy Focus Group Interviews?(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 6. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Needs assessment• Community analysis• Promotional strategies for newservices• Evaluation of library resources& services• Information-gathering patterns• Development of resources &servicesFocus Group Interviews in LIS Research(Connaway, 1996)
  • 7. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Sense-making theInformation Confluence• Seeking Synchronicity• User-Centered Design of aRecommenderSystem for a "Universal"Library CatalogueFocus Group Interviews in Our Research
  • 8. REPORTINGFINDINGSRECRUITINGPARTICIPANTSPLANNINGDEVELOPINGQUESTIONSMODERATINGCOLLECTING& ANALYZINGDATA
  • 9. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Plan processes• Identify project goals• Evaluate all options• Identify personnel &budgeting• Develop timelinesPlanning(Morgan, 1998)
  • 10. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Decide who will beinterviewed• Typically 5-12 people• As representative aspossible of population• Develop recruitmentscreening & invitationscripts• Determine follow-upproceduresRecruiting Participants(Connaway & Powell, 2010)(Morgan, 1998)
  • 11. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Offer incentives• Payment• Food & beverages• Hold in a comfortable,convenient, informal location• Follow up & send remindersAttracting Participants(Connaway & Powell, 2010)(Morgan, 1998)
  • 12. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Difficult• Little data of user-base• Participants across 3 continents• Hard-to-reach populations• Historians• Antiquarian booksellers• Non-probabilistic methods• Convenience sampling• Snowball samplingWorldCat.org Study Recruitment(Connaway & Wakeling, 2012)
  • 13. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Identify purpose of interview& research question• Should have:• Range• Specificity• Depth• Personal contextDeveloping Questions(Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1990)
  • 14. The world’s libraries. Connected.Categories of Questions• Participants get acquainted, “warmup”Opening• Begins discussion of topicIntroductory• Moves smoothly into key questionsTransition• Areas of central concern in studyKey• Determine where to place emphasis• Brings closureEnding(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 15. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Open-ended• Conversational• Direct, easy wording• Meaning clearly conveyed• Consistent between groupsCharacteristics of Good QuestionsTest and revise your questions!(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 16. The world’s libraries. Connected.Example: WorldCat.orgFocus Group Interview QuestionsQuestion Purpose1. Tell us about your experiences with WorldCat.orgA broad introductory question intended to reveal the extent to whichusers have engaged with WorldCat.org, and the information-seekingcontexts within which they use the system.2. Describe a time when you used WorldCat.org that you considereda success.Explores the features and functions of WorldCat.org thatparticipants view positively. Requiring participants to discuss aparticular instance provides richer data about the range of uses ofthe system.3. Describe a time when using WorldCat.org was unsuccessful –i.e., you did not get what you wanted.Explores the features and functions (or lack thereof) of WorldCat.orgthat participants view negatively.4. Think of a time when you did not find what you were looking for,but did find something else of interest or useful to your work?Intended to encourage discussion about the role of serendipity ininformation seeking, and the extent to which WorldCat.org facilitatesresource discovery .5. If you had a magic wand, what would your ideal WorldCat.orgprovide?Encourages participants to discuss potential improvements toWorldCat.org. The use of the phrase “magic wand” ensures thatparticipants are not restricted by what they believe to be practical orrealistic.
  • 17. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Define role of themoderator• Multiple moderators• Train moderators• Develop questions fordiscussion guide• Identify external props ormaterials• Determine what kind offield notes moderator willtakeModerating(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 18. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Not affiliated withinstitution or organizationconducting the research• No vested interest in results• Trained in focus grouptechniques• Good communication skillsThe Ideal Moderator(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 19. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Guide discussion, remainneutral• Ask open-ended questions• Natural conversationalapproach• Remain flexible toaccommodate natural flowof discussion• Ensure everyone responds ineach question area• Evaluate individual naturesThe Moderator’s Job(Krueger, 1998, p.22)
  • 20. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Interrupt diplomatically• Take a break• Discontinue eye contact• Call on participant byname• Write questions for all toseeDealing with Problem Participants(Krueger, 1998, p.59-63)
  • 21. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Note-taking• Audio recording• After focus group• Organize data & reviewfor completeness• Transcripts• Code-bookCollecting Data(Connaway & Powell, 2010)
  • 22. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Two approaches• Ethnographic summary• Qualitative• Direct quotations• “Thick description”(Geertz, 1973, p.6)• Content analysis approach• Numerical descriptions ofdata• Tallying of mentions ofspecific factors• Can be combinedAnalyzing Datan%(Connaway & Powell, 2010. p.175)(Connaway, Johnson, & Searing, 1997, p. 409)(Geertz,1973. p.6)
  • 23. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Multiple reporting strategies• Remember intended audience• Themes are better• Narrative styleReporting Findings(Krueger, 1998)
  • 24. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations& Recommendations for VirtualReference• Friendly & brief• Intended for library reference staff• 6 chapters• Recommendations• Webinars• Presentations• Panels• Journal articlesReporting Findings: Seeking Synchronicity
  • 25. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Observe large amount ofinteractions in limited time• Efficient & economical• Assess nonverbalresponses• Can be used with hard-to-reach groups• Moderator has a chance toprobe & develop questions• Positive impact on PRStrengths of Focus Group Interviews(Young, 1993)(Connaway, 1996)(Connaway & Powell, 2010. p.176)(Mellinger & Chau, 2010)
  • 26. The world’s libraries. Connected.• Cost• Must have skilledmoderator• Group interview cansuppress individualdifferences• Can foster conformityWeaknesses of Focus Group Interviews(Morgan, 1988)(Connaway, 1996)(Connaway & Powell, 2010, p.177)
  • 27. The world’s libraries. Connected.Connaway, L. S. (1996). Focus group interviews: A data collection methodology. Library Administration &Management, 10(4), 231-39.Connaway, L. S., Johnson, D. W., & Searing, S. (1997). Online catalogs from the users’ perspective: The use of focusgroup interviews. College and Research Libraries, 58(5), 403-420.Connaway, L. S. & Powell, R. R. (2010). Basic research methods for librarians (5th ed.). Westport, Conn: LibrariesUnlimited.Connaway, L. S. & Radford, M. L. (2011). Seeking Synchronicity: Revelations and recommendations for virtualreference. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/reports/synchronicity/full.pdfConnaway, L. S., & Wakeling, S. (2012). To use or not to use Worldcat.org: An international perspective from differentuser groups. OCLC Internal Report.Dervin, B., Connaway, L.S., & Prabha, C. 2003-2006 Sense-making the information confluence: The whys and hows ofcollege and university user satisficing of information needs. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS). http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/past/orprojects/imls/default.htm.Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique. Washington: American Psychological Association.Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books.Selected Bibliography
  • 28. The world’s libraries. Connected.Krueger, R. A. (1998a). Developing questions for focus groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Krueger, R. A. (1998b). Moderating focus groups. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Krueger, R. A. (1998c). Analyzing & reporting focus group results. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2009). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publications.Mellinger, M., & Chau, M. (2010). Conducting focus groups with library staff: Best practices and participantperceptions. Library Management, 31 (4/5), 267-278.Merton, R. K., Lowenthal, M. F., & Kendall, P. L. (1990). The focused interview: A manual of problems and procedures.New York: Free Pree.Morgan, D. L. (1988). Focus groups as qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Morgan, D. L. (1998). Planning focus groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Radford, M. L., & L.S. Connaway. 2005–2008a. Seeking synchronicity: Evaluating virtual reference services from user,non-user, and librarian perspectives. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/synchronicity/default.htmWilson, V. (2012). Research methods: Focus groups. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 7(1), 129-131.Young, V. L. (1993). Focus on focus groups. College and Research Libraries New (7), pp. 391-94.Selected Bibliography
  • 29. The world’s libraries. Connected.Special thanks to Alyssa Darden, OCLCResearch, for assistance in preparation ofthis presentation
  • 30. The world’s libraries. Connected.Questions &DiscussionLynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D.connawal@oclc.org@LynnConnaway
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