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FOCUS GROUPS: C MODERATORâs GUIDEâPARENTS INTRODUCTION (5 Minutes) â¢ Moderator introduction: I represent GSG, an independent opinion-research firm that conducts discussion groups on various topics. We ask people their opinions about everything from hamburgers to cars. â¢ Explain the idea of the focus group. Go over features of the room, including: â One-way mirrorâI have colleagues taking notes behind the mirror so that they do not disturb us. . . . â Camera/microphonesâThis is being taped so that I donât have to take notes while you are all giving your opin- ions. . . . One ground rule: You must talk, and you must talk loud enough so we can all hear you. â Completely confidential. Your full names will never be used. We just want to hear your opinions . . . Not a class- room; There are no right or wrong answers. â If you have any questions or additional comments, please go right ahead at any time. We have a good deal of material 121
122 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION to cover in a short time; feel free to ask questions, but we will need to keep the conversation moving. . . . â¢ Group profile: personal background (name, where do you live, how many kids you have and their grades, what you wanted to be when you grew up, etc.). Warm-up â¢ Letâs talk a little bit about back when you were in school. What was your favorite subject when you were in high school? â PROBE: History/Social Studies, Math, Science, Reading/ English, Foreign Language, Music/Art, Gym? â Why did you like that subject? â¢ What subjects did you like the least? Why? â¢ Is there a subject that you took in school that, looking back on it, you wish you had learned better? Why do you say that? â¢ What is your childâs favorite subject in school? â PROBE: History/Social Studies, Math, Science, Reading/ English, Foreign Language, Music/Art, Gym? â How do you think your child ended up liking that subject? â¢ What subject does your child like the least? Why? â¢ Do your children know yet what they want to do when theyâre grown up? â What school subjects do you think your children will need to excel in to have a chance to go into their chosen line of work? â What subjects do you think your children could do with- out? Why?
Appendix C 123 â¢ When you help your child with their schoolwork, what is your favorite subject? Why? What is it that you like about that subject? â How did you end up liking that subject? Was it because of a certain teacher? A certain project? â¢ What subject do you least enjoy helping your child with? Why? Careers â¢ Letâs talk about your children and how they may choose their careers. What do you think your children want to become when they grow up? Have they already decided what they want to do when they grow up? â IF CHOSEN, ASK: Why do you think they have chosen that field? Do you think you will be able to do it? What will they need to do to go into that field? â IF NOT CHOSEN, ASK: Why do you think they have yet to choose? â¢ Think for a moment about some reasons you would want to have a certain kind of job or career. . . . What are some reasons why someone might try to have a certain job or career? GO TO BOARD, WRITE. â PROBE: Satisfaction? Celebrity? Recognition (honors, awards)? Interesting work? Money? Good career? Good lifestyle? Challenging? Good opportunities? Able to create things that will last? Competitive? â¢ Have you ever spoken with your children about what they want to become or what subject he or she wants to study in college? â What was this conversation like? â How much influence would you say you have on whether your (son or daughter) goes to college?
124 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION â¢ Letâs think again about when you were growing up. . . . Did you know anyone who had a job that was similar to the one you are doing now? â What was that person like? Engineering â¢ Now weâre going to talk about another topic. . . . Engineering. What are the first words or phrases that come to mind when you think about âengineeringâ? WRITE ON BOARD. PROBE FOR AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. â PROBE: Are there any positive words or phrases that come to mind when you think about engineers or engineering? How about negative words? â¢ What kind of person is an engineer? What traits and charac- teristics does an engineer have? PROBE FOR EXAMPLES. â¢ Do you know anyone who is an engineer? What does that per- son do? What is that person like? â PROBE: Can you name any engineers who are widely known? â¢ What are some examples of engineering at work today? WRITE ON BOARD â PROBE: What are the most interesting things on this list? Why? What skills would a person need to be able to do those things? What kind of person does those things? â¢ DISTRIBUTE HANDOUTS: I have something I would like you take a look at. Write your first name and your last initial at the top of the sheet. Here are some examples of engineer- ing at work today. Iâd like you to circle the ones you find most interesting or appealing, and cross out the ones you find very boring or least appealing. And when youâve circled and crossed out some of the items on the list, I want you to number 1, 2,
Appendix C 125 3 the three most interesting or appealing of the things on this list. â PROBE: What did you pick as the most interesting thing on this list? Why? What skills would a person need to be able to do those things? What kind of person does those things? â¢ Whatâs the difference between a scientist and an engineer? Is there any difference? What does a scientist do that an engineer doesnât do? What does an engineer do that a scientist doesnât? â¢ Now Iâm going to read you a list of descriptions and I want you to tell me if itâs more appropriate for scientists or engineers. . . . We can only give each description away once. . . Would you say scientists or engineers are better described as . . . ÂDesigners? Creators? Inventors? Lab technicians? Planners? Leaders? F Â ollowers? Original thinkers? Problem solvers? Hard working? Get results? Have a positive effect on peopleâs everyday lives? Innovative? Successful? â PROBE FOR EACH: Why does that describe engineers/ scientists better? â¢ Some people have said that engineers are âreal-world scientists.â What do you think that means? Do you agree? What does âreal worldâ mean? Iâd like to ask you about some other things that people have said about engineers and engineering. . . . â¢ Some people describe engineers as creative problem-solvers. They describe engineers as having a vision for how things should work, and they ask questions like âhow does it work?â âwhat will happen if . . . ?â and they work with other smart people to design and build new things and solve problems.
126 CHANGING THE CONVERSATION â PROBE: Is that description appealing to you? What is appealing about that? What are some kinds of examples of that kind of person? â¢ Some people describe engineers as being free to explore, and looking for better ideas, constantly learning new things, and they are never bored because there are always problems to find that need solving. Engineers are always being challenged and inspired to keep exploring. â PROBE: Is that description appealing to you? What is appealing about that? What are some kinds of examples of that kind of person? â¢ Some people describe engineers as making a world of differ- ence because theyâre able to shape the future, have a direct effect on peopleâs everyday lives, and solve tomorrowâs prob- lems today. â PROBE: Is that description appealing to you? What is appealing about that? What are some kinds of examples of that kind of person? â¢ What kind of careers do you think engineers have? â PROBE: How much money do they make? Do they work insane hours? Do they get to travel? Is their work interesting? â¢ Do you think engineering would be a good career for your child? â RETURN TO LIST OF CAREER ATTRIBUTES ON BOARD, ASK: Does a career in engineering have any of these career attributes? â¢ I want you to turn your handouts to the last page now. I want you to imagine that you are in charge of a marketing campaign to promote to young people to consider becoming an engineer or studying engineering, and your job is to write a slogan to
Appendix C 127 promote others to consider becoming an engineer. On the second set of lines, I want you to write down what you think the best image or photograph should go with your slogan. CHECK IN BACK ROOM FOR OTHER QUESTIONS. Wrap up â¢ What did you write for a slogan? What image or photograph did you choose? Why? Thank and dismiss.