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focus groups, online/virtual focus groups, virtual platforms, video conferencing, facilitator best practices, facilitator role


This paper briefly traces focus groups from its origins, through its development from in-person to virtual platforms, which are more commonplace today. The terms online and virtual are used interchangeably in the research literature. In this paper, the term virtual is used to describe focus groups that are face-to-face using technology that incorporate audiovisual features. This paper begins with a description of the origins and purpose of focus groups, the purpose, and how they have evolved to include synchronous, and asynchronous online text-based, and virtual face-to-face focus groups. Next, the paper outlines the role of the facilitator. Comparisons of best practices for in-person and virtual focus groups, including facilitator cues and facilitation best practices, techniques, and strategies; best practices and challenges of conducting virtual focus groups; and video-conferencing tools are also explored. A brief discussion regarding collecting and analyzing the data is also included.


SPARK: The Sheridan Centre for Academic Excellence

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
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