Focus on…focus groups

Rainbow focus group

Currently prepping for a focus group with faculty on classroom technology. It’s something that has been long in the coming, but the impetus was feedback from a recent Techqual report. To give you some background, Techqual assesses Information Technology service quality, and, at least within MnSCU, allows us to compare institutions. A survey is sent to students, staff and faculty, with a series of criteria to be evaluated on three points:

  • On a scale of 1-10, what’s the minimum acceptable value for this service?
  • On a scale of 1-10, what should it be at?
  • On a scale of 1-10, what is currently at?

(Slight paraphrasing, but you get the idea). So one of the points asked faculty about classroom technology, and they graded us as currently providing below the minimum acceptable standard. There’s been a history at this institution of departments pushing out things, and more or less *telling* departments what they want. We give opportunities for faculty to tell us what they want via feedback requests, Help Desk, training sessions, surveys, etc, but it’s usually the same response:

*crickets*

I’ve been in this role for just over a year, and it’s time to flip the tables a bit. We’ve asked deans to identify some of the early adopters in their departments to this focus group, and we’ll hopefully gain enough usable feedback to pair with other information to start formulating a plan.

I’m hoping it’ll run fairly organically, but I’ve devised a question structure to fall back on and to keep us on track. Our guiding question is fairly obvious:

What do faculty want in the classroom that they will use and invest time into learning?

We need to figure out how to close the feedback loop as well, but that’s an issue for another focus group. With the guiding question in place, the probing question route is more linear…asking people what’s going on in the industry and other campuses, what would the like to see here, what sorts of things do seem to work / not work, and some scale questions…the 1 to 10 kind of stuff again to see if corroborates with the Techqual findings.

We’ll be going at noon today, and I expect to write another post on how it all went after the fact. In the meantime, what focus groups have you ran, and how did you structure them?

What do you think?

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