Focus Groups

Focus groups can provide an important opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of perceptions of the experienced curriculum from multiple points of view. Hill (2007) used focus groups to evaluate employer perceptions of the Food Science curriculum at the University of Guelph. During the focus groups, qualitative data was collected from the employers, using the following questions:

  • With reference to the current Food Science curriculum, describe in what ways the learning outcomes and content match or do not match your expectations of Food Science graduates.
  • Based on your experience with Food Science graduates employed in your company, how well do our graduates meet your expectations?
  • Describe one or more ways in which the Food Science curriculum at Guelph has helped graduates help your organization fulfill its mission or meet its objectives.
  • Please suggest one or more changes to help us improve the Food Science curriculum at Guelph. What can we do better to prepare our graduates for employment?
  • What advice would you give to a recent or soon to be graduate of Food Science?

Likewise, Coe et al. (in press) used focus groups to qualitatively evaluate student perceptions of learning within a second-year course (Art of Veterinary Medicine (AVM) II) situated within the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) curriculum based on the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the AVM courses? Why are they part of the DVM curriculum?
  • What are these courses trying to achieve? What are the intended outcomes of the AVM courses?
  • Why are these outcomes important? How will they contribute to your preparation in becoming a veterinarian?
  • What have you liked most about this course? Why? How has it impacted you and contributed towards your learning?
  • What specific improvements do you feel could be made to the AVMII course? Why should these areas be improved?
  • Drawing on your own background and experiences, what changes would you suggest to AVM II if you were to redesign the course?

References

Hill, A. 2007. Continuous curriculum assessment and improvement: a case study. New Directions for Teaching and Learning 112: 33-46.