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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


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    1. 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. http://www.uwsuper.edu/cipt/exsite/upload/Focus_Group_Guidelines.pdf

    2. 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)

    3. 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

    4. 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

    5. 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

    6. 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

    7. 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 …”

    8. Notetakers • 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

    9. 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