Harvard Educational Review
  1. Focus Group Interviews in Education and Psychology

    By Sharon Vaughn, Jeanne Shay, and Jane Sinagub

    Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1996. 174 pp. $39.95; $19.95 (paper).

    Developed by professionals in marketing and advertising, focus group interviews have been traditionally used by marketing experts to gauge customers' responses to products and consumers' perceptions and interests. Interestingly, however, more researchers in education and psychology are now using this interviewing strategy.

    The authors of Focus Group Interviews in Education and Psychology explain when and why focus group interviews can be useful. They guide the reader through key stages of the focus interview process: preparing for the focus group, selecting participants, conducting the interview, using focus groups with children and adolescents, analyzing the data. The authors also outline some of the potential abuses of the focus group interview. Each chapter opens with an overview of its contents and a list of the key ideas to be covered. Most chapters conclude with activities that give the reader an opportunity to practice what she has read.

    In chapter two, for example, the authors outline the major reasons why educational and psychological researchers are beginning to use focus groups: "variety and versatility for both qualitative and quantitative research methods, compatibility with the qualitative research paradigm, opportunity for direct contact with subjects, advantages of group format, and utility" (p. 12). They suggest that information gathered in focus groups can be used to develop hypotheses, to design survey instruments, or to "fine tune" a research design. Focus groups can be used in concert with quantitative methods as a way of verifying findings of survey research. In my own educational research, I find that including data from focus groups helps to make the research come alive. This data puts a human face on the numbers for policymakers who are unfamiliar with quantitative data analysis.

    Focus Group Interviews in Education and Psychology is designed for both experienced and novice researchers. This text would be useful in qualitative methods courses. It provides substantial information for effective use of focus group interviewing by education and psychology researchers.

    M.K.S.
  2. Share

    Abstracts

    A Social Capital Framework for Understanding the Socialization
    Ricardo D. Stanton-Salazar
    Accountability and School Performance
    Implications from Restructuring Schools
    Fred M. Newmann, M. Bruce King, Mark Rigdon
    What's the Use of Theory?
    Gary Thomas
    Cognition, Complexity, and Teacher Education
    Brent Davis, Dennis J. Sumara
    Sex and the Teacher
    Should We Come Out in Class?
    Didi Khayatt

    Book Notes

    Growing Up African American in Catholic Schools
    Edited by Jacqueline Jordan Irvine and Michèle Foster

    The Jobless Future
    By Stanley Aronowitz and William DiFazio

    Learning as a Way of Being
    By Peter B. Vaill

    The Other Angels
    By Patricia L. Walsh

    Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students
    By Donna Y. Ford

    The Timetables of Women's History
    By Karen Greenspan

    Migrancy, Culture, Identity
    By Iain Chambers

    Pushing Boundaries
    By Olga A. Vasquez, Lucinda Pease-Alvarez, and Sheila M. Shannon

    Focus Group Interviews in Education and Psychology
    By Sharon Vaughn, Jeanne Shay, and Jane Sinagub

    The New Second Generation
    Edited by Alejandro Portes