Focus Groups

Focus groups 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. It involves gathering a small group for guided yet informal discussion, led by a JVA moderator. The interactions of group members can provide the most insight at a focus group. Our evaluation experts explore differences and similarities among the attitudes, experiences and perspectives of different participants.

Because focus groups encourage conversation among participants, they make a unique tool, allowing access to feedback unavailable through similar 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 willing to discuss “taboo” topics when less inhibited participants speak first. Conversation can bring up 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.

Getting people to talk

JVA is well versed in evidence-informed practices for conducting culturally responsive focus groups. We carefully recruit participants to reflect the target community and often provide 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. We also 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. And we know the right kind of questions to ask to elicit the most participation from focus group members.

Prepare to learn something

JVA begins our systematic evaluation even as the focus group occurs. 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. That is, we aim to offer new insights, not simply reiterate common knowledge. They also give a voice to often overlooked community members. This can give your organization an almost fly-on-the-wall perspective for conversations it might not otherwise be privy to.

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