Focus Group Question Key Terms
Learn the vocabulary of keeping focus group questions in focusFocus groups are a commonly used tool for eliciting consumer response to products and services or gathering other qualitative, or personal and subjective, data. Designing the right focus group questions is key to the effectiveness of this form of information gathering. Your results will be only as effective as your questions. Focus groups can be an expensive and time-consuming effort, so become familiar with these focus group question key terms to make sure you are getting your money's worth.
Open-ended vs. dichotomous
Neutral vs. leadingFocus group questions should be neutral, or devoid of any language or implication that would lead participants toward a particular response. Maintaining neutrality in question design can be a real challenge. It's not only a matter of avoiding obviously leading questions, such as "Just how terrible would you say our competitor's product is?" Even subtly leading prompts can result in focus groups that waste time and money by producing only the information you want to hear or already know.
Intensity, frequencyWhen evaluating focus group responses, two key things to look for are the intensity of the response, or how strongly participants expressed a particular opinion or preference, and the frequency of the response, or how many times the same point was repeated in different ways by different participants. Focus group question design should include ample opportunities for measuring intensity and frequency.
U.S. Department of Education's Planning and Evaluation Service offers a FAQs on focus groups. Scroll down to read more about intensity and frequency.
ScriptThe script is the preplanned list of specific questions, presented in a carefully designed sequence, that a trained facilitator works from when running a focus group. The script is vital for eliciting effective focus group response, but a good facilitator will be flexible enough to reorder, deviate from or add to the script when the group dynamic demands it.
Usability.gov, the U.S. Government's guide to designing usable websites, contains useful information on the interaction between the script and the facilitator in asking focus group questions.
SequenceSequence is the intentional ordering of focus group questions. Certain kinds of questions are best asked as openers, transitions or summary questions.
Richard A. Krueger of the University of Minnesota offers more information on the sequencing of focus group questions, including specific examples of ending (or summary) questions.
Group dynamicThe group dynamic is the synergistic effect that participants have on one another when responding to questions as a group. That effect elicits a more complex and nuanced body of data than an individual survey or interview would, and it is one of the key reasons for choosing focus groups to test response to products or services. The group dynamic is fluid and unique to each focus group, and a good facilitator knows how to stimulate and adjust to it.
Learn more at the Microsoft Small Business Center about how the group dynamic functions when asking focus group questions.
Copyright © 2013 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.