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Interviews and Focus Groups Christine Maidl Pribbenow SOTL Institute-RR 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Interviews and Focus Groups Christine Maidl Pribbenow SOTL Institute-RR 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interviews and Focus Groups Christine Maidl Pribbenow SOTL Institute-RR 2014

2 Interviews: Definition A series of well-chosen questions (and often a set of tasks or problems) which are designed to elicit a portrait of a student's understanding about a scientific concept or set of related concepts (Southerland, Smith & Cummins, 2000). The interviewer uses a set of questions, called "probes" (and sometimes selected photographs or other props) designed in advance of the interview to elicit a portrait of the learner's understanding about a specific concept/topic (e.g., evolution; molecular/kinetic theory; plate tectonics; binary stars; Newton's laws). The student may be asked to use her own words to explain a concept (e.g., "What is natural selection?") but is typically required to go beyond simple recognition of a concept to construct a detailed personal explanation. Typically the student is also asked to use that concept to solve a problem or other application task.

3 Interviews: Purpose to investigate how well students understand a concept; to identify misconceptions, areas of confusion, and/or gaps in understanding that may be common among a group of students; to document how students can apply their knowledge in concrete settings (e.g., problem solving, trouble shooting); to document the general and content-specific procedures that students employ in such application tasks and the sequences and manner in which these processes are employed; to document how student understanding and problem-solving skills change over time or with instruction; and to obtain verbal feedback from students about course structure, teaching techniques and other aspects of the course or program of instruction.

4 Focus Groups: Definition and Purpose A moderated discussion about specific topics on which stakeholder or customer feedback is desired. A carefully planned discussion designed to obtain perceptions on a defined area of interest in a permissive, nonthreatening environment. The discussion is comfortable and often enjoyable for participants as they share their ideas and perceptions. Group members influence each other by responding to ideas and comments in the discussion.

5 Interviewees/Participants Stakeholders– people who care about the outcome of the group. Participants– “informed subjects”– individuals who have had experience with, or can speak to, the topic you are concerned with. Customers– people who may use the “product” of interest.

6 Focus Group or Interview?

7 Setting Up Determine purpose and goal of conducting interview/focus group. Identify participants. Write script and questions, most important first. Get IRB approval if necessary. Schedule place/time– location needs. Invite participants, remind before. Conduct interviews/group!

8 Interviews: Methods Discuss informed consent and limitations. Explain process and outcomes of the interviews. Introduce selves– first names. Ask questions– provide adequate time and silence for people to respond. Ask clarifying questions, if necessary. Stay on task and on time.

9 Focus Group: Methods Discuss informed consent and limitations (cannot ensure anonymity or confidentiality). Explain process and outcomes of the focus groups. Introduce selves– first names. Ask questions– provide adequate time and silence for people to participate. Be sure to get dissenting opinions. Stay on task and on time.

10 Data Collection and Analysis “Digitally capture” interview/focus group either audio or video. Take notes– during and after– about questions asked, new questions asked, observations of the participants. Transcribe digital recordings. Conduct qualitative analysis, based on questions and purpose of group.

11 How might you use interviews or focus groups to answer your research question?

12 References and Resources The Wilder Nonprofit Guide to Conducting Successful Focus Groups, J.S. Simon, 1999, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Facilitator Tool Kit, Office of Quality Improvement, UW-Madison, Discipline-Based Education Research: A Scientist’s Guide, Slater, S.J., Slater, T.F., and Bailey, J.M., 2010, WH Freeman. Interview Information (FLAG site): ERIC/AE Staff (1997). Designing structured interviews for educational research. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 5(12).http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=5&n=12http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=5&n=12


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