Focus groups are a great way to tap into a community’s knowledge and experiences to gain deeper and more nuanced understanding of an issue. And JVA’s team of skilled, experienced researchers and evaluation experts can help you recruit for, plan and carry out focus groups on any topic.
What’s special? The interaction
A focus group is a qualitative evaluation tool that involves gathering a small group for guided yet informal discussion led by a JVA moderator. Focus groups offer insight through the interactions of group members, as our evaluation experts explore differences and convergences among the attitudes, experiences and perspectives of different participants.
Because a focus group encourages conversation among participants, it is a unique tool, allowing a moderator access to feedback unavailable through other research methods. For example, jokes, arguments and anecdotes can shed light on group norms within a community. The social atmosphere can make members feel safe and be more likely to discuss “taboo” topics because less inhibited group members may speak up first. Conversation among participants can bring up entirely new lines of inquiry, as well as inspire spontaneous responses. And sometimes, a moderator can watch as a participant’s views shift amid discussion with other group members.
We get people to talk in our focus groups
JVA is well versed in evidence-informed practices for conducting culturally responsive focus groups. Participants are carefully recruited to reflect the target community and are often provided with incentives for giving their time and feedback. We have years of experience conducting focus groups with diverse communities, including Spanish-language groups led by a JVA bilingual evaluation expert. Our experts know how to maintain focus group members’ interest and how to make them feel invested in their responses, and we have techniques for drawing out opinions from participants with different personalities.
JVA employs a method that is friendly but objective, to encourage genuine, candid opinions. Our team approach and years of research and experience in the sector have armed us with a strong knowledge base on myriad subjects your organization may wish to probe via a focus group. And we know the right kind of questions to ask to elicit the most participation from group members.
Prepare to learn something
Our systematic evaluation begins while the focus group is being conducted, as we pay close attention to inconsistencies or vague comments and probe for clarity. JVA’s methods ensure that our focus group reports increase your level of understanding; we aim to offer new insights, not simply reiterate common knowledge. And they give a voice to often overlooked community members, allowing your organization an almost fly-on-the-wall position for conversations it might not otherwise be privy to.