Spill the tea: Understanding and joining a focus group

focus-group-cover-photo.jpgThe first step to improving your residence experience is to hear your impression of it. The good, the bad and even the ugly. But before we discuss how you can share your thoughts at one of our upcoming focus groups (and get $10 added to your ONEcard), let's first discuss what focus groups are and why they matter.

What is a focus group?

Focus Groups are facilitated conversations about a particular topic to gather in-depth responses and real-life experiences, so that the right decisions are made in the future. Our focus groups will explore topics such as our brand identity, communication practices and policies around emotional support animals.

How do focus groups work?

Focus groups start with explaining the purpose of the discussion and how information will be collected and used. Someone will be taking notes, just so we can ensure all the important details are captured and so we can share our insights with the university's change-makers.

Questions in a focus group are generally open-ended and intended to get the most amount of information about your experience, feedback or ideas. The facilitator will ask questions to the group, either in a discussion format, or sometimes using an activity such as writing on flipchart paper. After the focus group, we take our notes and start looking at what changes we can make and you get that hard-earned $10 added to your ONECard!

Do focus groups really lead to change?

The short answer? Yes, all the information is reviewed and change—of some sort—typically follows.

The long(er) answer? Not every good idea can be executed, unfortunately. We try our best to implement the feedback we receive in a meaningful way, with our resources and capacity in mind. Some changes are easier to enact immediately, while others direct us to look more into an issue through additional consultations.

One example of a change that came from a focus group is our BaseCamp orientation program (our first-year residence orientation). In a session, students highlighted a desire to connect with upper-year students before they arrive as a first-year, and new orientation sessions and opportunities to be mentored were successfully added to our programming.

How can I share my opinions about living in residence?

Residence has a few upcoming sessions where you can tell us how you really feel, in a safe, supportive environment.

Upcoming focus groups

Our focus groups are facilitated by Caitlin McLeod, Supervisor of Education and Leadership and feature approximately 13 participants over a one-hour period. All participants will receive $10 on their ONEcard.

Topic Date and Time Location Description
Brand Identity and Marketing Communications Two options:
1. March 9, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
2. March 10, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Nîpisîy Multipurpose Room This focus group examines our visual identity and communication practices. We're covering topics like your impression of residence, how you want residence to communicate with you, what kind of emails you want to receive, and what you would like to see on social media. Share your experiences, ideas and insight.
Emotional Support Animals in Residence Two options:
1. March 9, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
2. March 10, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Nîpisîy Multipurpose Room This group gives you a chance to share your experiences with emotional support animals in residence. From processes and resources to how we should communicate the topic to you and other residents. Whether you have an emotional support animal or simply have thoughts about how we can improve our policies about support animals in residence, we want to hear from you!