RUSA National Institute: Serving 21st Century Users Handout

Modified Focus Group Outline

RUSA National Institute: Serving 21st Century Users: Opportunities & Challenges

October 12-14, 2000, Baltimore, MD Interviews and Focus Groups

Marie L. Radford, Ph.D.

Supplies: Large table (round is best) and chairs, a quiet room, flip chart, markers, scissors, masking tape, index cards, pencils, and handouts for participants, recording equipment and audio tapes for moderator if the session is being taped, notepad and pencils for assistant, refreshments (or small token gifts).

Time estimate: 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Number of participants: 8-12 (may have to invite double the number)

1.                Introduction

A. Introduce yourselves, and describe your expertise in this area. Ask participants to introduce themselves.    

B. Briefly describe your assessment project.

C. Describe how focus groups fit in to your project (e.g.,   part of planning/preparation for survey/workshops).

D. Thank them for their time.

2.                Describe the Ground Rules of the Focus Group :

A. This is an open, safe and secure forum.

B. All suggestions are acceptable.

C. Be patient with fellow group members.

D. Be an active listener and participant.

E. Ask questions!

3.                Idea generation

A. Distribute statement for reaction (e.g., see Modified Focus Group Reference Mission Statement, below) and ask participants to read it over carefully.

B. Ask each participation to write 5 ideas on index cards in answer to the question.

C.   Describe process of idea generation.

1. We will go around the table, 1 person at a time will present an idea, 1 idea per person.

2. Individuals can pass.

3. Participants are encourage to share new ideas even if they were not on original note cards.

4. We will continue until all ideas have been shared.

5. We will then prioritize ideas.

D. Give participants 5-10 minutes to write ideas down.

E. Ask for a volunteer to start.

F. Write all ideas on flip charts and tape each page to the wall.

F. Continue until all ideas are exhausted.

4.                   Clarification and consolidation of ideas .

A. Ask participants: Do any of these need clarification? Does everyone understand all of these?

B. Write clarifications on flip charts paper.

C. Group ideas. Ask: Do any of these need to be grouped?

D. Cut flip chart paper and tape like ideas together.

5.                   Voting process to prioritize.

A. Ask participants to reread statement.

B. Ask each to choose the 5 best suggestions for fulfilling the statement.

C. Have each go to the flip chart, put a check mark on 5 (5 different, only 5) top choices.

6.                   Tabulation

A. Record voting on new flip chart.

B. Identify top vote getters.

C. Ask about consensus if appropriate.            

7.                   Wrap-up and summary .

A.   Remind them how info. will be used ( e.g., for report, will be considered when developing the survey/workshops).

B. Collect index cards.

B. Thank them again for their time.


M.L. Radford Memorial Library

“Achieving Excellence in Reference Service”

Modified Focus Group Reference Mission Statement


According to the M. L. Radford Memorial Library Mission Statement, “Excellence in Reference Service is an integral part of the library’s mission.” M.LRML reference service users can expect: to receive high quality reference assistance; to be appropriately acknowledged; to be treated   respectfully and equitably; to receive timely service, to be treated in a professional manner; to have open access to up-to-date print and electronic resources, and (as desired) to be instructed in their use.”

From your perspective, what ideas do you suggest to help M.L. Radford Memorial Library fulfill this excellence in reference service mission?