Monash University
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The focus group interview: rising to the challenge in qualitative research methodology

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-02, 03:48 authored by Ho, Debbie
This paper explores the possibility of expanding the focus group interview into the field of English as a Second Language (ESL), where this research methodology is yet to be thoroughly explored. Specifically, it aims to challenge popular criticisms about the reliability and validity of the focus group as a qualitative research methodology. It does this by first setting up a list of five main criticisms of the focus group interview drawn from current literature on research methodology within the social sciences and education. Based on transcripts of interactional data gathered from focus group interviews carried out among ESL students in a formal ESL context, it then provides a direct and detailed response to each criticism. The arguments put forward demonstrate that the focus group interview, as a method of data collection, may be particularly relevant in gathering the viewpoints and opinions of participants who have traditionally not been well represented through the more conventional and common methods currently employed in ESL research studies. Furthermore, the paper raises conscious awareness about the potential of the focus group as a viable and verifiable tool in qualitative research methodology. Copyright 2006 Debbie G.E. Ho. No part of this article may be reproduced by any means without the written consent of the publisher.


Date originally published



Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 29, no. 1 (2006), p. 5.1-5.19. ISSN 1833-7139