Campus Climate Focus Group Recruitment

By mid-November 2008, the Campus Climate Study Steering Committee (CCSSC) completed the Focus Group Phase of the Campus Climate Survey (CCS). The results of 25 focus groups that represent faculty, staff and student perceptions will be used to construct items for the CCS that will be administered to the entire SJFC community March 16 – 27, 2009. The following is an explanation of the recruitment procedures for populating representative focus groups at SJFC and a description of their scheduling.

Initially the CCSSC attempted to sample as many of the constituents of the Fisher community as possible within the two-day window of the Robinson Consultant Group’s (RCG) campus visit. The number of variables that could be considered for focus group participation included: students (commuters, residential, graduate, undergraduate, Asian American, Latin American, African American and Native American {ALANA}), faculty (tenured, untenured), staff (full-time, part-time). It was pre-determined by RCG that the ideal number in a focus group would be between 3-15 individuals; 25 invitations were sent to each group to ensure we would have representation that reflected the campus population. A maximum of 24 sessions could be conducted with up to 25 people, starting at 8:00 a.m. and running until 11:00 p.m., and using both consultants as facilitators. On Monday and Tuesday, October 27-28, 2008, a total of 23 focus groups sessions were held in the Campus Center. Two of the students’ focus groups were merged due to low attendance in one.

Breakdown of the 25 Focus Groups

(4) Full-time Faculty

(2) Part-time Faculty

(3) Staff

(14) Students (1 ALANA) (3 Grad Student)

(1) ALANA Faculty

(1) ALANA Staff

Recruitment Procedure

Recruitment for the first 24 slots took place in 2 phases.

Phase I focused on 3 main categories: Students, Faculty and Staff. A total of 600 invitation letters were sent with a specific date, time, and place to convene on October 8, 2008 to home addresses and requested to reply by October 13, 2008. Letters were followed up by email: 375 invitations to Students and 27 accepted; 150 invitations to Faculty and 47 accepted; 75 invitations to Staff and 34 accepted. Although all numbers were low, there were enough respondents to hold the faculty and staff groups, but not nearly enough students had responded.

Phase II focused solely on recruiting students for the focus groups and used face-to-face appeals in classes and other group forums. At this point any student could volunteer to participate, even if they had not received a prior invitation. Unlike Phase I, the students were given a choice of the day and time to convene, and finally students had the opportunity to sign up on the spot to participate. It is unclear how many faculty made announcements to students to encourage participation in the focus groups. However, multiple sign-in sheets were turned into the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs (OMADP) and individuals were sent confirmation emails. This phase resulted in 123 additional contacts and a total of 129 students who participated in the first 23 focus groups.

Phase III emerged when debriefing the two-day marathon of focus groups. Convening 2 additional focus groups was recommended by the consultants in order to capture the voices of ALANA faculty and staff who were absent from the nine sessions already held. A total of 18 ALANA Faculty invitations resulted in 5 accepting; 33 ALANA Staff invitations resulted in 7 accepting to participate. Two additional sessions were conducted via teleconference by RCG two weeks later on November 11, 2008.

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