Group Interviews/Focus groups Nina Cogger OT Education
Supporting the Mature Occupational Therapy Student: An investigation into the support systems available for non-traditional Occupational Therapy students in Wales.
Methods….. • Questionnaires • Group Discussion • Documentary Analysis
Why group discussion/focus group? • Potential for discussion amongst recipients, thus encouraging a wider range of responses • Practical advantage of acquiring responses from a number of people at one time • Saves a lot of organisational and time requirements • Range of opinions and viewpoints in one place (Cohen et al, 2007).
Continued…… • Group interviews can be useful when a group of people have been working together for a while or had a common purpose and were concerned about what each other were saying. (Watts and Ebbutt, 1987) • The group interview was felt to be a useful method of gathering data for me, as discussing support issues may be too personal on an individual basis, and therefore a group had the potential for discussing general issues around that area and produce a wide range of information (Stewart et al, 2007),
Disadvantages of group/focus interviews • Group dynamics - one or several members may dominate the conversation, and not let others contribute towards the discussion (Robson, 1993) • Needs skilful chairing and management (Cohen et al, 2007).
Another disadvantage of group interviews could be if there is a particularly vocal person, results may be biased towards the dominant person’s views. (Stewart et al, 2007) • Group interviews may not be conducive when asking people to discuss issues with other people they may not feel comfortable with, particularly sensitive issues (Morgan, 1997)
Ideal numbers….. • Six – eight Too much, group may fragment and lose focus Too little could pressurise individuals if all the attention is directed towards them
So what happened? Interview 2 groups of mature students……..part time and full time students
What did I do? • Residential weekend – sent out email invitations to all the part time students attending (Cardiff & Wrexham) • 8 respondents – good mix • Participant information sheets & consent forms
Also………… • Full time students
On the positive….. • The group interview did achieve the aims of clarifying issues that were raised in the questionnaire results and students were happy to contribute and share some of their experiences. • Also, due to the time constraints, this method resulted in sharing the opinions of eight individuals in a relatively short time, and provided a rich depth of discussion and interaction.
The findings • Mature students in the occupational therapy programmes in Wales, are subject to pressures and commitments, but do use a variety of support systems both within and outside of the university.
References • Cohen, L,, Manion, L., and Morrison, K., (2007), Research Methods in Education (6thEd). London. RoutledgeFalmer • Morgan, D., (1997), Focus Groups as Qualitative Research (2nd Ed) London. Sage University. • Robson, C., (1993), Real World Research – A resource for social scientists and practitioners researchers. Oxford. Blackwell Publishers. • Stewart, D., Shamdasani, P., and Rook, D., (2007), Focus Groups – Theory and Practice (2nd Ed) London. Sage Publications. • Watts, M., and Ebbutt, D., (1987), More than the sum of the parts: research methods in group interviewing. British Educational Research Journal. Vol 13 (1), 25-35
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