In the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning, the end of every semester is a time for student focus groups. In the past few years, ATL has conducted focus groups with students in their senior year for several programs at WSU. These conversations can be a great way to capture students’ perspectives on their experiences in the major as they look toward graduating and moving on to jobs, graduate school, or other next steps in their lives. Focus groups can also be useful when done with students earlier in their college career, depending on what type of questions the program wants to ask. Results can be used to help inform pending decisions regarding teaching and learning or, for example, to assess the effectiveness of recent changes to the curriculum. With relatively low effort, programs can potentially get highly valuable results. As one associate dean commented, “a single focus group gave us more useful information than four years of senior exit surveys with low response rates.”
ATL’s Focus Group Services:
- Help create focus group questions
- Help create a senior exit survey, which may be administered in the same session (the quantitative results from the survey can provide a useful companion to the qualitative focus group comments)
- Facilitate focus groups and provide notes of student responses (sessions are not recorded)
- Consult with assessment coordinators and/or program leadership regarding methods for interpreting results and how to consider results in relation to data from other assessment measures
Contact the ATL assessment specialist for your college if you would like to get more information.