The role of a focus group moderator

In general, moderator should be “flexible, objective, empathic, persuasive, a good listener” (Fontana and Frey 2000, p. 652) In a ideal focus group, the moderator would just participate to put research topics. It is participants who must dominate the discussion. However, there are a number of situations where moderator should also participate.

1. To prevent single participants or small groups from dominating the discussion and encourage reserved members to become involved. You may use such sentences as “what do you think “participant´s name”?, “what do other people think about?“.

2. To reflat the discussion using provocative questions. Whenever the dicussion among participants seems not to be enough dynamic, it is the moderator who should formulate new debate-provoking questions.

3. To steering the discussion toward a deepening. Whenever research topics are covered superficially and with no further details, the moderator you formulate depth-provoking questions such as “what do you mean by…?”

Finally it is recommendable count with the support of an assistant. It allows moderator focus on managing the group and assistant to take notes.

References

Fontana, A., & James, H. Frey.(2000). The interview: From structured questions to negotiated text. The Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed., pp. 645–672).
Thousand Oaks, London & Delhi: Sage Publications. Cited in Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited
Ibáñez, J. (1979). Más allá de la sociología: El Grupo de Discusión: teoría y crítica. Siglo XXI de España Editores.
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