ERIC Number: ED322628
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
Focus Groups: A Starting Point for Needs Assessment.
Buttram, Joan L.
Utilization of focus groups, commonly used in marketing research, as the first step of program needs assessment, is examined in this report. Focus groups are useful in generating new data that have not been constrained by a preconceived evaluation format. The goal of focus groups is not consensus building, but identification of a variety of needs. A needs assessment study was conducted by a regional educational laboratory, in five locations across the northeastern United States. Thirty-five representatives from education, administration, business, and professional associations, generated from a list of nominations, participated in focus group discussions. The groups identified regional elementary and secondary educational needs and feasible types of assistance. Group feedback produced a significantly different list of needs than those generated previously by a mail survey. Earlier lists of needs focused on elementary and secondary problems, and the focus groups emphasized needs supportive of the instructional program. Focus groups' requests for assistance were congruent with available services. Findings indicate that, although limited to defining the educational status quo, focus groups are useful in providing input to improve survey design, enhance knowledge of clients' needs, and expand management concepts for future planning. (11 references (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Research for Better Schools, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 16-20, 1990).