What Is a Focus Group?
CHID Focus groups are 2-credit classes offered under the course number CHID 496 and are graded on a credit/no credit basis. Unlike many other classes, which use a model of education built around instruction by an expert (generally a professor), focus groups rely on peer learning within a facilitated, discussion-based classroom. They allow students with common interests to create a space to discuss topics which may not be covered elsewhere in the UW undergraduate curricula.
Focus groups are not spaces for students to promote one particular point of view. While students can take on one idea or concept, this topic should be explored from multiple vantage points. Focus groups should not depart from CHID’s guiding philosophy that “the questions are the content.” They are about critical scrutiny, not about ideological imposition.
The Focus Group Experience
The focus group facilitator is there to assist peer learning around a particular topic. Each facilitator will also work with a faculty mentor (either a UW professor or a CHID instructor) to support them in designing and facilitating their focus group. Focus groups are a labor of love on the part of the person facilitating them and should also be a labor of love for the people participating in them. Because of this, the workload is often heavier than in other 2-credit classes.
Getting Credit for Focus Groups
Focus groups are graded on a credit/no credit basis; all assignments must be satisfactorily completed, and students may not have more than two unexcused absences in order to get credit for the class. Student-facilitators do not assign grades, but they are responsible for working with the CHID academic advisor and their faculty mentor to determine which participants have earned credit for the focus group.