Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2016 Archive

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Qualitative and quantitative research methods


16 August 2016

The merit of the focus group discussion is that it creates conditions for interaction and debate so that a range of perspectives can be surfaced and discussed. Furthermore, when soliciting the views of students, it is feasible to train young people to conduct focus groups themselves. This point is an important one in school settings where teachers, when leading discussions, may be accustomed to correct and evaluate student responses, and unwittingly be following their own agenda. Well-trained student leaders can effectively open up the discussion.

There are many strategies for initiating a discussion, including: free listings, rating scales, rankings, pile sorting, choosing among alternatives, labeling, picture sorting, story telling, role playing, drawings and projective techniques.

An important follow-up step is to require participants to complete a short anonymous questionnaire that indicates their perception of the extent of their participation. Another is to ensure that provision is made for a membership check when documenting the outcome of the discussion. The discussion can be followed up with a more widely based survey designed to elicit the extent of the views expressed in the session/s.

In order to draw attention to a number of features of focus-group inquiry the session will model a discussion.

Event details

  • When: 4–6pm

  • Where: Room 458, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
    Education Building A35
    Click image for interactive map.

  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: RSVP by emailing the research student liaison officer.

  • Contact: Suin Jung
    Research Student Liaison Officer, Sydney School of Education and Social Work
    T: +61 2 9351 6268 | E:

  • More info:

  • Speaker: Susan Groundwater-Smith is an honorary professor in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work. She has co-authored a number of books and journal articles that make the case for participatory research with children and young people, including:
    • • Mockler, N. and Groundwater-Smith (2015). Engaging with Student
        Voice in Research, Education and Community: Beyond Legitimation and
      . Rotterdam: Springer.

    • • Groundwater-Smith, S., Dockett, S. and Bottrell, D. (2015) Participatory
        Research with Children and Young People
      . London: Sage

    • • Groundwater-Smith, S. and Mockler, N. (2015). "Why Global Policies
        Fail Disengaged Young People at the Local Level". In H. Proctor,
        P. Brownlee, P. Freebody (Eds.) Controversies in Education: Orthodoxy
        and Heresy in Policy and Practice
      . Rotterdam: Springer

    • • Groundwater-Smith, S., Ewing, R. and Le Cornu, R. (2015). Teaching:
        Challenges & Dilemmas
      (5th Edition). Melbourne: Cengage.

    • • Groundwater-Smith, S., Mayes, E. and Arya Pinatyh, K. (2014). "A
        bridge over troubling waters in education: The complexity of a
        'students-as-co-researchers' project". Curriculum Matters,
        10 pp. 213–31.

    Susan continues to advise and research in the area and is working on a project that is investigating with young people “how do I know I am learning?; and how do you know I am learning?”

Qualitative and quantitative research methods: focus group inquiry

Where Room 458, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
Education Building A35
Click image for interactive map.


16 August 2016

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