What are Focus Groups?
Focus groups are facilitator-led discussions involving a small group of participants (usually 7-10 individuals). Groups are conducted in a safe and comfortable environment that encourages multiple points of view. Participants are generally key stakeholders in the program, including staff, administrators and individuals receiving services. During a focus group, participants are asked about their experiences, opinions, and feelings related to a program (in the case of program evaluation), including any ideas they might have about how to make it better.
NPC’s Approach to Focus Groups
At NPC Research, we generally utilize focus groups in conjunction with other methods of program data collection (for example, survey responses or administrative data collection). Careful and systematic analysis of these group discussions can provide clues and insights as to how a program is perceived by the group and, together with quantitative findings, can help to create a clearer and more complete picture of the program, its environment and its policies and procedures. In addition to gathering key stakeholder feedback on programs, NPC also utilizes focus groups for program development purposes and to assist in creating assessment tools or instruments for data collection.
In our extensive work with drug courts, NPC has conducted a number of focus groups with active and former program participants, as well as participants’ family members. Responses in these groups have helped to inform other qualitative findings (e.g., from one-on-one interviews with staff and administrators) as well as program-related outcomes (e.g., participant recidivism rates). NPC has also facilitated groups with key stakeholders in our evaluation of the Caring Communities Program and with parents in evaluations of Early Head Start Programs.
For more information about NPC’s focus groups, please contact: Charley Jaspera at (503) 243-2436 x 113, or Jaspera@npcresearch.com.