Sample Teacher Focus Group Questions
This is a sample set of focus group questions designed for for use with teachers. Similar, yet different, questions would be developed for administrators, technology specialists, or other populations within a school. All of these different types of focus groups would be part of a comprehensive data collection effort, which in itself would be part of a comprehensive evaluation (audit) of how technology is used to support teaching and learning in a school or district.
Additional focus group and interview questions can be found here. We also have sample surveys and classroom observation protocols.
The basic principle behind focus groups is that they need to be focused. This means creating unique questions to probe particular understandings of particular role-alike groups. These questions should be tied to indicators that you have established to assess progress toward meeting your goals/objectives.
To provide further context for these sample questions, here are the basic, underlying, assumptions we make when creating and conducting focus groups...
Beyond the context, we always ask our evaluators to cover the following points/topics with group members prior to starting the actual questions...
We tend to break our questions into several thematic groups. These are:
Student Access and Use
Teacher Vision and Strategy
Teacher Access and Professional Development
1. Describe how your students typically use lab or classroom computers.
Probe for -- writing,drawing, reading, e-mail/communication, skill reinforcement, programs related to curriculum (simulations, topical "adventures"), research (CD-ROM, Internet, other), games, "free choice",presentation
2. What kinds of software is available for student use in the classroom or lab?
3. How do students typically use the computers and why?
(i.e., probe for the reasons why they favor a particular pattern of use e.g., "You cant do anything with one computer.; each student needs to work individually; class management issues; etc.)
in pairs or small groups
as a whole class
4. Could you give me an estimate of the % of students who have access to a computer at home?
5. Were interested in your impressions of how the information technology you have just described has impacted your students learning. Overall, how have students been impacted by the use of technology in your school? (probe for examples, evidence)
better cooperative learners?
more effective "reward" for completing work
6. How do you evaluate your students in terms of their technology use?
Special or specific assessments?
Nothing in addition to non-technology-specific assessments.
7. What does technology allow your students to do now either physically or intellectually that would have been impossible (or at least more difficult) before technology was widely available in your school?
Probe for: Hardware, Placement, Software, Support, Policies, other
9. Please describe how you most frequently make use of school computers. We dont want to know all of what you do just what you most often do.
(probe for uses directly related to instruction, administrative uses/record keeping, personal productivity, etc.)
OK, thats what you most frequently do. Now tell us some of the other things regardless of how often you might do them.
10. If not on your desk or in your classroom, where do you use computers most often?
school computer lab
11. Do you have access to a computer at home?
(yes or no answer)
12. How accessible are the classroom or lab computers to teachers throughout the day?
available all day
available only during off-hours
available with sign up
13. What, if any, impact has the use of information technology had on your teaching?
(probe for the following list w/o reading it)
easier record keeping
more collaboration with peers/reduced isolation
more fun teaching?
changed role from expert to facilitator?
more creative/adventuresome with curriculum
more individualized instruction?
access to better resources
better parent contact?
14. In what ways has your professional practice (i.e., teaching) improved through the use of technology?
(designed to be pretty open-ended. Allow for the fact that the "improvement" may have been mostly negative)
15. What barriers have you encountered in trying to use technology in the classroom?
too little time to learn
inadequate professional development
periods too short
16. How do you get your ideas for integrating technology in the classroom?
17. What is the most interesting or intriguing use of technology in education that you have ever heard about? It doesnt matter to us whether you can actually DO this yet we just want to know what you find interesting.
18. What changes would you like to see made in your school with regard to how technology is allocated or structured?
(Note that they may comment on both physical infrastructure as well as support issues)
19. How often is technology staff development offered at your school and/or in the district and who is responsible for conducting this training?
20. What barriers have you encountered in terms of getting the technology training you want and/or need?
21. What has been the most useful use technology workshop you have attended, and why?
22. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
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