In the field of education, success of a school system has traditionally been determined through quantitative methods, such as through scores on achievement tests and survey results. In short, the quantitative method can determine if a school is failing or not. However, it does not answer the question of why a school is failing, a particularly important question for school administrators who hope to make positive changes in their districts. Focus group research, or qualitative analysis, is an underutilized method for gathering data in schools. Focus group methodology offers a more in-depth understanding of participants' perceptions than do quantitative measures such as test scores and surveys, thereby providing potential answers to why a school is failing. The purpose of this article is threefold. First, it attempts to define focus group research in the field of education. Second, it presents the disadvantages and advantages of focus group research, and finally, it provides methodological guidance to administrators who are interested in using focus group research as a way to gather information about the performance of a school system.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lisa_shoaf/3/