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NCJ Number: 201729 Find in a Library
Title: Focus Groups: An Needs Assessment Tool for Training
Journal: Law Enforcement Trainer  Volume:16  Issue:3  Dated:May/June 2001  Pages:16-17
Author(s): Laurie A. Austen
Date Published: May 2001
Page Count: 2
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses focus groups as a needs assessment tool for police training.
Abstract: The focus group research technique was developed in the mid-1940's. This technique uses a semi-structured group session in an informal setting with the purpose of collecting information on a certain topic. A group leader usually moderates this session. Focus groups have been widely used as a marketing strategy that helps businesses look at their targets as customers. Consumer marketers have used focus groups to gain clarification about what their customers want. There are 7 common elements that help define focus groups: (1) small group of 4 to 12 people; (2) meet with a trained researcher/facilitator/moderator; (3) for a 1 to 2 hour period of time; (4) discuss selected topic(s); (5) in a non-threatening environment; (6) explore participants’ perceptions, attitudes, feelings, ideas; and (7) encourage and use group interactions. Participant interaction plays an important role in the research aspect. There are three stages of the focus group with some corresponding steps for each stage. The first stage is setting the stage and involves five steps: identification of goals, development of moderator’s guide, selection of location, selection of participants, and preparation of the facility. The second stage is how to conduct a session. This stage involves allowing participants to talk freely, being flexible, and being diplomatic. The third and final stage is processing the results. This involves recording the session and compiling a list of findings. Focus groups are a qualitative device and cannot be used to replace quantitative analysis. They work well in combination with quantitative procedures to help provide some of the best training opportunities in police agencies. Bibliography
Main Term(s): Police training innovations; Police training needs assessment
Index Term(s): Communication techniques; Needs assessment; Police reform; Police training; Police training models; Teaching/training techniques; Training needs assessment
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