Making Room for Zoom in Focus Group Methods: Opportunities and Challenges for Novice Researchers (During and Beyond COVID-19)

Keywords: Zoom, online, focus group, qualitative research, videoconferencing, synchronous, online focus group, interviewing, qualitative methods

Abstract

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world, it forced many people to adapt to an online-based routine, including qualitative researchers looking for alternative ways to collect meaningful data. While focus groups are traditionally conducted in-person, advances with online videoconferencing applications present a new method to collect data, however, few studies have explored this. In this article we present 12 doctoral students' experiences with conducting focus groups using the videoconferencing application Zoom during a qualitative methods course on interviewing methods. Through this self-study qualitative analysis, participants reflected on the opportunities and challenges experienced as both moderators and participants using Zoom including: preparation, rapport, incorporating other digital tools, and internet connectivity. In conclusion, doing focus groups online using Zoom was a positive experience overall and comparable to in-person focus groups for collecting qualitative data, despite the introduction of technology. More research on participant recruitment, new technology, Zoom's security features, and Zoom's use outside of a pandemic should be further explored.

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Author Biographies

Michelle M. Falter, North Carolina State University

Michelle M. FALTER is an assistant professor of English education and educational equity in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at North Carolina State University and also teaches qualitative research methods courses. Her research interests include dialogical and critical pedagogies, English teacher education, young adult literature, and emotion in the teaching of literature and writing in the secondary classroom.

Aaron A. Arenas, North Carolina State University

Aaron A. ARENAS is a PhD student in education leadership, policy, and human development at North Carolina State University. His research interests include higher education governance, organizational theory, and diversity in college leadership.

Gordon W. Maples, North Carolina State University

Gordon W. MAPLES is a PhD student in education leadership, policy, and human development at North Carolina State University with a focus on higher education.

Chelsea T. Smith, North Carolina State University

Chelsea T. SMITH is a PhD candidate in education leadership, policy, and human development at North Carolina State University with a concentration in higher education administration. Her interests include diversity in STEM education and social justice education.

Lisa J. Lamb, North Carolina State University

Lisa J. LAMB is a PhD candidate in teacher education and learning sciences at North Carolina State University with a specialization in social studies education. She is a 26-year veteran educator.

Michael G. Anderson, North Carolina State University

Michael G. ANDERSON is a PhD candidate in English education at North Carolina State University and a high school English teacher who is interested in critical and visual literacies.

Elizabeth M. Uzzell, North Carolina State University

Elizabeth M. UZZELL is a PhD student and graduate research assistant in educational evaluation and policy analysis at North Carolina State University.

Laura E. Jacobs, North Carolina State University

Laura E. JACOBS is a PhD candidate in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences with a focus on Literacy and English Education at North Carolina State University.

Xavier L. Cason, North Carolina State University

Xavier L. CASON is a PhD student in education leadership, policy, and human development at North Carolina State University and director of Community Schools and School Transformation for the Durham Public School Foundation.

Tiara A.N. Griffis, North Carolina State University

Tiara A.N. GRIFFIS is a PhD student in educational psychology in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences and is currently working as a high school counselor and psychotherapist.

Megan Polzin, North Carolina State University

Megan POLZIN is a PhD student in science education at North Carolina State University and a middle school science teacher, interested in epistemic cognition and informal science education.

Nada Z. Wafa, North Carolina State University

Nada Z. WAFA is a PhD candidate and graduate research assistant in teacher education and learning sciences at North Carolina State University with a focus on social studies education.

Published
2022-01-29
How to Cite
Falter, M., Arenas, A. A., Maples, G. W., Smith, C. T., Lamb, L. J., Anderson, M. G., Uzzell, E. M., Jacobs, L. E., Cason, X. L., Griffis, T. A., Polzin, M., & Wafa, N. Z. (2022). Making Room for Zoom in Focus Group Methods: Opportunities and Challenges for Novice Researchers (During and Beyond COVID-19). Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-23.1.3768
Section
Single Contributions