Students Speak Are We Listening?
2012
CCCSE
Workshop
at NISOD
Why focus groups?
Digging beneath the numbers…
Bringing data alive through student
voices
The power of stories
Using numbers (quantitative data) and student
voices (qualitative data) together…
The numbers tell you What.
The student voices tell you Why.
My first day…
Discussion Qs
Who?
Which students do you want to hear from?
What?
What do you want to learn from them?
Why?
What data lead you to ask those questions?
Discussion Qs
Creating the Conversation
• Who is your audience? Which groups do you
want to engage in conversations about these
issues?
• What challenges do you see in conducting
focus groups and sharing the outcomes ?
• How will you use and share this information?
• What do you want people to do with the
information you gather?
Focus Group Toolkit
http://www.ccsse.org/center/iss/focusgrouptoolkit.cf
m
Student Focus Group Toolkit
can be adapted for faculty & staff
• Planning Focus Groups
• Recruiting Focus Group Participants
• Discussion Tools
• Analyzing/Reporting
Focus Group Toolkit
Planning Focus Groups
 Selecting a Moderator and Note-taker
 Coordinator Responsibilities
 Coordinator Checklist
 Room Set-Up
 Videotaping Guidelines
 Consent Forms
Recruiting Focus Group Participants
 Selecting Participants
 Inviting Participants
Discussion Tools
•Moderator Do’s and Don’ts
•Moderator’s Guide
•Student Profile Sheet
•Response Sheet – First Experiences
Analyzing/Reporting
•Summary Report Sample
Student Focus Group Toolkit
Planning Focus Groups
• Selecting a Moderator and Note-taker
• Coordinator Responsibilities – your team
• Coordinator Checklist
• Room Set-Up
• Videotaping Guidelines – upon request
• Consent Forms
Setting up a focus group…
Entering Student Success Institute
Invite students to talk with each other…
Entering Student Success Institute
Then listen to their conversation…
Entering Student Success Institute
Student Focus Group Toolkit
Recruiting Focus Group Participants
• Selecting Participants
Your goal is: To gain as accurate a picture as
possible of student experiences at the college.
You want the good, the bad, and the ugly!
• Invitations & Maintaining Contact
Student Focus Group Toolkit
Discussion Tools
•Moderator Do’s and Don’ts
•Moderator’s Guide
•Student Profile Sheet
•Response Sheets
Focus Group Toolkit – Gathering Quantitative
Data Along with Qualitative Information
Student Profile Form – Use to gather basic information about your participants
Additional response forms can be used to complement discussion findings.
Examples:
•Non-Academic Responsibilities
•Finances
•Technology Use
•First Experiences
Focus Group Toolkit - Selecting a Moderator
• A time to listen, not to talk.
• Choose your facilitator wisely.
• Objective
• Not known to participants
• Not particularly knowledgeable about what the
college is doing
• Able to listen without showing a reaction!
Group Activity – Create a Discussion Guide
• Select an OUTCOME. What do you want to learn from
focus group participants?
• What 3 or 4 QUESTIONS could you ask to get to that
outcome?
• Write OUTCOME and QUESTIONS on paper.
Select one person to share your group’s discussion guide
with session participants.
Focus Group Toolkit – Moderator Guide
Sample Outcome: To understand students’
earliest academic experiences with the college.
Sample Questions: Think about your first day in class at this
college. What was it like? What happened on that first day or
during the first couple of classes? Did any of your instructors tell you
what they expect from you in the class? If so, what did they tell you?
How do those expectations match your own expectations for your
college experience?
Focus Group Toolkit – Moderator Guide
Sample Outcome: To understand what motivates
students to pursue higher education
Sample Questions: Why did you decide to go to college? Did
anyone urge you to go to college? Parents? Friends? High school
teachers or counselors? Anybody else?
Sample Questions: When did you decide to go to college? While
in high school? After high school? Did you work for a while before
deciding to return to school?
Advice from Students:
For the college: What works? What doesn’t? What could
the college do better to help students get off to a good start?
For new students: What do you wish you had done
differently? What advice would you give your
brother/sister/friend who is just starting college?
Students tell you what doesn’t work…
advice…
Students cause you to rethink your choices…
Students suggest new approaches…
Students tell you what’s working…
Let’s Listen!
What are your next steps?
Using quantitative and qualitative data together…
What do students say is the most important college
service?
Academic Advising & Planning
90%
Yet…

46%
…say they never saw an advisor
(or really aren’t sure…)
What entering students are telling us …
During their first 3 weeks…
71% - advisor helped them pick classes.
60% - advisor helped them select a major or
program.
Fewer than 40% - advisor helped them set
academic goals and create a plan for achieving those
goals.
Entering Student Success Institute
Please advise me!
Advice from Students