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Focus Group Discussion

Transforming Focus Group Dynamics with Remote Moderation Techniques

Discovering New Insights in Group Discussions

A recent study by Prosser and her team (2023) is reshaping how we think about focus groups. Moving away from the traditional setup where a moderator leads the discussion, this new approach introduces ‘remote moderation.’ What does this mean? Simply put, the moderator is not in the same room but guides the discussion from afar. This small change has led to some big discoveries. Participants, it turns out, can not only handle discussions on their own but also dive into deeper, more meaningful conversations.

A Closer Look at the Study

The research tested this new style in two different settings: one involving discussions on dietary choices and the other on experiences of sexual harassment. Instead of a moderator being physically present, they directed the conversation through a screen from another location.

Here’s what they found:

  1. Participants Take Charge: Without a moderator in the room, people stepped up, effectively managing the discussion themselves.
  2. Richer Conversations: With no direct influence from a moderator, discussions became deeper and more engaging, covering a broader range of ideas.
  3. Sensitive Topics Tackled with Care: Even when the topics were delicate, the groups maintained a supportive and collaborative atmosphere.
  4. Expanding the Dialogue: Participants often took the conversation beyond the initial questions, especially when there was a pause, adding more depth to the discussions.

What This Means Going Forward

This innovative approach, as detailed by Prosser et al. (2023), opens up exciting new possibilities for focus groups in research. By stepping back, moderators allow for a more authentic and complete view of what the group really thinks and feels. This method could be a game-changer for researchers who want to understand group dynamics and opinions without the influence of a moderator.


References

Prosser, A. M. B., et al. (2023). ‘Talk amongst yourselves’: Designing and evaluating a novel remotely-moderated focus group methodology for exploring group talk. Qualitative Research in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2023.2257614

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