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Help for Facilitators and Notetakers. Preparation for October 19 “Birds of a Feather” Event Karen Calhoun October 9, 2012. Training based on Dixon, Jill. 2005. “Focus Group Facilitation Guidelines”. Centre for Higher Education Quality. Monash University.

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help for facilitators and notetakers

Help for Facilitators and Notetakers

Preparation for October 19 “Birds of a Feather” Event

Karen Calhoun

October 9, 2012

Training based on Dixon, Jill. 2005. “Focus Group Facilitation Guidelines”.

Centre for Higher Education Quality. Monash University.

planned agenda for bof event
Planned Agenda for BOF Event
  • 9:00: Arrival
  • 9:05 - 9:15: Welcome and introduction - Aaron
  • 9:15 - 9:30: Individual work on written questionnaires (silent)
  • 9:30 - 10:45: BoF breakout sessions
  • 10:45 - 11:00: Break and Social Time
  • 11:00 - 12:15: Reporters Present Themes and Action Proposals
  • 12:15 - 12:45: Debrief and Wrap Up
  • (Pick up lunch on way out)
objective of our bof discussions
Objective of our BOF discussions
  • IT IS TO:
    • Collect information and ideas on pre-selected topics for the FY14 Planning Task Force
  • IT IS NOT:
    • To achieve consensus
    • To answer participants’ questions (facilitator ≠ sage on stage)
    • To solve one or more problems
    • To make decisions
    • To provide a forum for participants to gripe or vent frustration
purpose of the pre event questionnaire and initial bof segment 9 15 9 30
Purpose of the pre-event questionnaire and initial BOF segment (9:15-9:30)
  • To structure feedback on pre-selected topics so it can be more easily interpreted, usefully summarized for stakeholders, and digested by the TF
  • To support inclusive planning
  • To help participants organize their thoughts before the discussion session begins
  • To allow private views to be aired (if questionnaire is submitted before event)
  • To enable input from some who are reluctant to speak in public
  • To enable input from participants at regional campuses who can’t easily travel to Oakland
Facilitators …
  • Stay neutral and open, both in words and body language
  • Start and end the session
  • Ensure participants understand the purpose of the session and their role in it
  • Encourage participation by all
    • Do not allow more articulate individuals to dominate discussion
    • Steer discussions away from biased statements
    • Help less articulate or shy individuals to participate
    • Help people feel comfortable, safe, and appreciated
  • Keep the discussion productive and on track
  • Help groups get “unstuck” if necessary
  • Treat participant comments with respect and confidentiality
help for facilitators
Help for facilitators
  • Think about your topic ahead of time
  • Familiarize yourself with the interview guide and notes form ahead of time and bring a copy with you
  • Encourage discussion but keep the pace moving
  • Help people feel safe
  • Watch your own body language – maintain an open, neutral posture
  • Watch what people are doing as well as what they are saying (body language tells you more than words sometimes)
  • Look at people when they are talking
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Enforce the ground rules – (1) everyone’s thoughts are valued and welcome; but (2) participate don’t dominate
  • Actively invite quiet members to comment
more help for facilitators
More help for facilitators
  • When a participant is having trouble making his/her point:
    • Probe: “how, what, which, when, who?”
    • Repeat what they are saying in your own words and ask “is that correct?”
    • Suggest a list of possible options and ask “is one of these what you mean?”
  • If the discussion becomes tense:
    • Neutrally summarize the points being made, then say “I’d like to move on now to make sure we hear everyone’s ideas …”
  • If participants address questions about the topic to you (to get your ideas): remind them of purpose of session—it’s about what you think, not what I think
  • If participants become stuck, critical and/or you are feeling defensive:
    • Show you understand, remain neutral, let the person have their say, actively listen, then defuse and move on: “it is good to know … let’s hear what some others think about …” or “that’s an interesting comment … how could xyz be done better?”
    • Make a note and agree to follow up later with that person (then move on)
    • Assert your role as facilitator: “We’re getting off track here and it’s important that we gather feedback for the planning group. We need to move on …”
  • Use the interview guide to standardize the format of your notes of the discussion session – this is important for the later analysis and summary report!
  • Help to optimize the usefulness of participant feedback by taking objective, accurate notes in the appropriate section of the interview guide during the discussion session
  • Make tick marks against “me too” remarks
  • Keep time (see interview guide) and help facilitator to keep the discussion moving and on track
  • Record any action items for follow-up after the session
  • Maintain confidentiality of the notes
  • Immediately after the discussion session: report out 2 or 3 main themes or action proposals from the discussion (unless separate reporter is chosen)
  • Between end of event and end-of-day October 22: anonymize, clean up and clarify your notes so they are LEGIBLE and UNDERSTANDAB LE for the report writing stage
  • By end of day October 22: briefly discuss notes with facilitator, then submit notes to Eliva Arroyo-Ramirez, cc: Aaron Brenner
help for note takers
Help for note-takers
  • Familiarize yourself with the interview guide and notes form ahead of time, bring a copy with you, and use it to record your notes
  • Bring extra writing utensils and extra paper (or your laptop)
  • Listen as carefully and objectively as you can. Try to be aware of your own biases and avoid introducing them into your notes
  • Capture key points/themes and/or action proposals (highly characteristic or somewhat characteristic of the conversation)
  • When you clean up your notes after the event, mark key points/themes/action proposals clearly and remove any mention of participants’ names
  • Keep in mind someone else (Elvia) will be trying to identify and collate the key points/themes/action proposals using your notes
  • Try to capture verbatims that represent a widely held view (mark these with quotes but do not identify the speaker)
  • Use tick marks to mark “me toos”
  • Note when/if divergent views are expressed in the group
  • Watch and record body language – not just words
  • Try to capture the mood and other key characteristics about the group