Characteristics of the focal group
According to Krueger and Casey (2009):
- They usually consist of 5 to 10 people, but the size can vary from 4 to 12.
- The group should be small enough to give everyone the opportunity to share their insights. But a very small group may not have many ideas.
- When the group exceeds a dozen, there is a tendency for the group to fragment. The participants want to talk but there is not enough pause in the conversation. In these situations they start whispering their opinions with other participants.
People have certain characteristics
- The nature of this similarity depends on the purpose of the study.
- Group members may vary in terms of gender, occupation and interests.
- The researcher must ask: Who can provide the information that is needed?
Provide qualitative data
- Data of interest for the researcher is collected to know the opinions of different people through various groups.
- For this you need at least three groups.
- Focus groups present a natural environment more than in an individual interview because the participants influence others and at the same time they are influenced by others.
- The researcher serves as a moderator, listener, observer and will eventually analyze the data.
They have a focused discussion
The questions in a focus group are predetermined and sequenced to be easily understood by the participants.
- The moderator uses open questions.
- These open questions are carefully developed, arranged in a natural and logical way.
- The first questions help people start talking and thinking about the subject. Then they become more specific, focused.
- The questions near the end typically provide the most important information.
- There is no pressure from the moderator to reach consensus in the group. On the contrary, attention is paid to understanding the feelings, comments and thought processes of the participants as they discuss.
He leads the group through a discussion guide (questions), offers neutral answers and stimulates group participation.
It is who writes down the answers and observes the group's global behavior (reactions, attitudes, forms of non-verbal communication, etc.)
They should share similar characteristics. Ex: be of the same sex, belong to the same ethnic group, have approximately the same age, and have similar educational level
How does it apply?
Opening of the meeting
- The moderator initially welcomes the participants, presents the preamble, gives general instructions and places the group mentally in the debate (clarifies the purpose of the meeting, makes it clear who is questioning and who is responding, insists on the need for the participant to use their own knowledge, experiences and language, must explain the content and objectives of each of the topics - questions, and clarify the meaning of taking notes, recording or filming interventions.)
Start of the discussion
- Then formulate the first question and invite to participate. The moderator in the whole process should stimulate participation using multiple strategies such as "anticipated response", which consists of answering oneself insinuating some possible alternatives.
- Once the debate is underway, the moderator conducts the debate, taking care not to exert pressure, intimidation or subjection. The important ones are the group's own responses without exerting strong influences. The moderator will be attentive to the development of the debate and the attitudes of the members. It will not participate in the debate of the topic since its function is to lead and stimulate the discussion. The reporter and the observers write down the participants' answers and observe the non-verbal messages of the participants.
- Finally the information is analyzed by the rapporteur and the observers, the final report is delivered and the observations are revealed.
- The group process provides an environment of collaborative communication, security and spontaneity among the participants so that they do not feel pressured to answer each question.
- The group environment allows the moderator to explore other related topics as they arise. It is possible that a large volume of information is generated in a short period of time.
- The focus group, unlike the observation, the personal interview and the survey reveals profound information associated with knowledge, attitudes, feelings, beliefs and experiences in a short period of time.
Hamui Sutton, A., & Varela Ruiz, M. (2013). La técnica de grupos focales. Investigación en Educación Médica, 2 (1). Recuperado de:FACMED.Consultado el 27 de noviembre del 2013. https://www.ecured.cu/T%C3%A9cnica_del_grupo_focal#Calidad_de_la_informaci.C3.B3n_en_un_grupo_focal
Barbour, R. (2007). Doing focus groups. Thousand Oaks, CA:sage. http://cea.uprrp.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/grupo_focal.pdf
Andres R. (2019) What is a focal group https://www.sisinternational.com/que-es-un-grupo-focal/