‘How to’ Use Focus Groups: Get the Most from Them

National Foundation for Educational Research

12 November 2013

One of a series of Research in Schools ‘How to’ Guides, designed to help practitioners run research projects in education. To support schools in engaging with and running research, we have made our popular ‘How to’ Guides available to download free of charge.

Running focus groups are a popular method of research in schools. They are ideal because not only are they easy and cheap to set up within schools, but they help to make the participants feel empowered. They are also a great way to generate new ideas and gather feedback from several people (learners, parents/carers, staff, community and governors) at the same time. But there are circumstances when focus groups are not suitable and this simple, succinct, easy-to-read guide helps you to know where and when to use them. The guide takes you through the five steps to conducting focus groups, from development of questions through to reporting of findings. It includes guidance on the resources you will need as well as how you can share your research findings.

If you've recently introduced a new policy and what to find out whether it is working, focus groups can be a great tool. The guide includes a number of other ideas that you could investigate using focus groups.

Written by NFER researchers, this guide will ensure your methods of research are based on professional guidance.

This guide was published in 2013 and was correct at the time of publication. Users are encouraged to check for the latest advice on data protection with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation. For further information please visit the ICO website.