Table of Contents

Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education

Elgar original reference

Edited by Sara Delamont

The Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education offers both basic and advanced discussions of data collection, analysis and representation of all the best qualitative methods used in educational research.

Chapter 28: Using Focus Groups

Jude Robinson

Subjects: education, education policy, research methods, politics and public policy, education policy, research methods, qualitative research methods, social policy and sociology, education policy


Jude Robinson WHAT ARE FOCUS GROUPS? Focus groups were first used in the 1920s in market research and subsequently adopted as an academic research method in the 1950s by the sociologist Robert Merton, who developed the ‘focussed interview’ (Merton et al., 1990). For good potted histories of the rise of the use of focus groups in social science see Morgan (1997), Bloor et al. (2001) and Krueger and Casey (2000). The word ‘focus’ comes from the direction of the group’s discussion to a particular topic or issue (Kitzinger, 1994). However not all group discussions are equal, and there is something ‘special’ and distinct about focus group discussions (Litoselliti, 2003) compared to group interviews (Currie and Kelly, Chapter 29, this volume). Krueger and Casey (2000, p. 10) have identified five characteristics of focus groups, namely: ‘(1) the people who (2) possess certain characteristics and (3) provide qualitative data (4) in a focussed discussion (5) to help understand the topic of interest’. There are a number of excellent introductory texts that take researchers through the process of designing and conducting focus groups research step by step, and I will refer to these throughout this chapter as I introduce some key concepts, issues and dilemmas that researchers are likely to encounter before going on to critically assess an example of my own focus group research. THE INTERACTIVE ELEMENT OF FOCUS GROUPS In the introduction to the six book series of the Focus Group Kit that he co-edits with Richard Krueger, David Morgan describes...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information