Empowering students’ voices: The use of activity-oriented focus groups in higher education research

Jessica E Bourne*, Naomi Winstone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Surfacing student voices is of utmost importance in higher education institutions. However, the use of large-scale student surveys may not represent the most effective method of eliciting meaningful student perspectives. Focus groups have the potential to elicit a more authentic student voice through greater engagement with students. Furthermore, activities incorporated into these discussions may be beneficial in the higher education context. The aim of this article is to explore the use of activities in focus group discussions within a project focussed on students’ use of feedback. We draw on focus group discussion transcripts, debrief transcripts, field notes and activity artefacts to demonstrate how activities can be incorporated into focus group discussions. The findings indicate several benefits to using activities in higher education focus group discussions. As such, a framework to guide the use of activities, based on the purpose of the focus groups, is provided within the context of higher education research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Research & Method in Education
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2020

Structured keywords

  • SPS Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences


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