How to Conduct Parent Focus Groups

With the transition to distance learning and reopening schools, parent focus groups have grown in popularity.

School decision-makers are turning to parents of students to understand how their classes, programs, and other logistics should be executed based on our “new normal.”

For instance, a private school in California contacted our education market research company to conduct parent focus groups online.

In this blog post, Drive Research shares our step-by-step process for those interested in implementing a similar study.

How to Conduct Parent Focus Groups | Education Market Research Company


Objectives of the Education Market Research

A private school system in California partnered with our education market research company to conduct a qualitative and quantitative research study

The hybrid market research study addressed several core objectives, including: 

  • Critical differentiators for the schools
  • Perception of the private school 
  • Drivers to perception
  • Analysis of core competencies
  • Program features that are most appealing
  • Pricing
  • Impact of COVID-19 on the future of the private school brand and experience 

The market research addressed these stated objectives for the school.

The investment in market research provided the client with operations, marketing, and strategic planning for stakeholder audiences.


Approach to Conducting Focus Groups with Parents

To address the objectives at hand, Drive Research utilized a combination of online surveys (to measure) and online focus groups (to explore). 

Our education market research firm used the online recruitment survey to find and target participants for the online focus groups and leverage the responses for quantitative analysis. 

The timeline was extremely aggressive for this scope of work, particularly running the research over the holidays.

Step 1 - Online Survey

The online survey took an average of 11 minutes to complete and included 43 questions. Fieldwork for the online survey began on December 5 and lasted until December 16, 2020. 

Step 2 - Online Focus Groups

Drive Research utilized the online survey to qualify individuals and target invitations for the follow up online focus groups. 

The client reviewed potential participants before beginning phone call invitations to participate. 

Respondents were rescreened to ensure they meet all qualifying criteria by telephone. 

The recruitment process included: 

  1. Confirmation emails 
  2. Requesting a yes response
  3. A calendar invitation with Zoom meeting information
  4. Instructions for a test run
  5. A reminder phone call the evening before the remote focus groups
  6. A reminder text the day of the focus groups

The focus groups covered a variety of topics to address the objectives.

The project team created a moderator’s guide and activities for the focus groups, which were ultimately signed off on by the client team.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Online Focus Groups

Achieving a 100% Participation Rate

The project consisted of 4 online focus groups, each evening from Tuesday, January 5 through Friday, January 8 at 5 p.m. PST. 

Each focus group lasted 90 minutes. Our market research company recruited a total of 6 participants for each group and earned a 100% participation rate. 

More participants were not suggested as part of the scope due to the limited time available to each attendee. 

More details of the education market research:

  • All online focus groups were conducted through Zoom. 
  • The client watched the groups live to listen to the feedback and discussion. 
  • Sessions were recorded, and transcripts were provided to the client. 

Recommended Reading: 3 Best Practices When Recruiting for Online Focus Groups


Post-Focus Group Survey with Parents

Following the online focus groups, participants were asked to complete a short post-focus group survey that included 5 follow-up questions.

The survey invitation was sent by 12 p.m. PST the day after each focus group. After completing the post focus group survey, each participant was paid $100 as a thank you for their time. 

Details about participants were shared separately from this report to protect participant anonymity. 


Results of the Parent Online Focus Groups

Before the online focus groups, Drive Research presented a full report of the survey data to the private school.

Once the online focus groups were complete, a comprehensive report was created. 

The comprehensive report consisted of a blended background and methodology, a themed executive summary, recommendations, personas, and an appendix of charts and graphs.

The online survey and focus groups results answered the following questions:

  1. What is the perception of the private school?
  2. What drives the perception of the private school?
  3. What are the core competencies of the private school?
  4. How does the private school compare?
  5. What factors are most important?
  6. How will COVID-19 impact the future of the private school?

The recommendations were based on insights from the online survey, focus groups, and experience in the education sector via Drive Research. 

The results were used to supplement and help provide direction for strategic planning purposes. 

Recommended Reading: Tips to Improve a Market Research Report


Contact Our Education Market Research Company

Drive Research is a national market research company that partners with various educational institutions across the country.

We have conducted both qualitative and quantitative market research studies for Pre-K schools to colleges and universities.

Ready to start a market research project with our team? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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