In addition to extensive quantitative work, OPIR supports and delivers significant qualitative research and evaluation. The most common methodology is the Focus Group, a group of individuals who in a trusting and relaxed setting share their insights on a specific issue. Our OPIR team stands ready to offer training to other departments in all phases of focus group methodology, from refining the topic to generating the facilitator questionnaire to conducting the group report generation.
Resources permitting, OPIR staff will, on certain strategic projects, take full responsibility for conducting focus groups in their entirety, from protocol development to subject selection to group facilitation to reporting.
Focus groups are a rapid and comparatively inexpensive way to elicit very useful information. However, because the group size is typically small (8 - 12 participants), the main value of focus groups is to provide insights and perspectives as opposed to the more conclusive results that emerge from scientific samples with larger populations.
Over the years, OPIR has conducted focus groups for practically all the colleges, many academic departments and a good number of co-curricular offices ranging from UNIT to Facilities. Recently, OPIR finished a groundbreaking project wherein undergraduate students met in focus groups over the course of their four years at Villanova and shared their experiences ranging from their views on academics to a wide variety of co-curricular activities. Another innovative pair of focus groups saw OPIR partner with UNIT and using clicker voting technology and power point slides to simulate student feedback.
In addition to focus groups, OPIR can assist with other methodologies such as observation, individual interviews and garnering best practices. All three of these technologies and others were used in a major project with Falvey Library that was subsequently published in a leading journal.