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Give Your Education Market Research a Boost with Bulletin Board Focus Groups

As you look for ways to refine your K-12 outreach or develop your product with education market research, chances are focus groups are part of your plan. To maximize participant engagement and gain deeper insights, consider using a Bulletin Board Focus Group.

Regular focus groups are great, but they have some drawbacks in terms of the scale and depth of the qualitative insights you can draw from them.

Asynchronous “Bulletin Board” Focus Groups, or BBFG for short, have so many advantages when you have a research challenge that requires deep, but flexible methods to execute.

When is a Bulletin Board Focus Group the Best Fit?

BBFGs are a great option when you want to:

  • Develop deep insights on complex topics that have multiple layers or themes.
  • Ensure all voices are heard and no one gets “talked over” or intimidated by others.
  • Show images, videos, and sample materials, or direct participants to a website before they answer questions.
  • Foster engagement between participants to get their reactions to what others have shared.
  • Tackle sensitive or private topics—questions can be posted in private mode and respondents can always answer privately.
  • Provide expert, thoughtful moderation that allows time for participants to digest information before they react.
  • Accommodate participants with scarce time and who need flexibility.

How BBFGs Work

Here’s how a BBFG works: A pre-screened group of qualified participants log into a private forum at least once a day to answer a new set of questions for each day the group is open. Each day, participants see a new set of questions and can log in at their convenience and on any device to answer questions. They can type out responses, use speech-to-text, or upload video responses. If desired, participants can see the answers from others and reply to them as well for real community engagement.

Best practices for BBFGs:

  • 10 to 20 participants
  • 3 to 5 days duration
  • Most questions should be relevant to all participants, but you can branch out to custom questions.

At MMS, we design questions collaboratively with client input and organize them into different themes for each day. While running the focus group, our moderators quickly reply to responses to probe, clarify, and gain a deeper understanding and insights.

BBFGs as Part of a Larger Research Effort

This type of qualitative research is valuable as a stand-alone effort, but it can also be an integral part of a larger education market research initiative. Here are some examples:

  • After one-on-one interviews or traditional focus groups to go deeper and wider into a topic.
  • To inform survey design, when you need to develop hypotheses for question design.
  • When developing thought-leadership, white paper, or market scans.

When integrating BBFGs into your overall research, it’s also important to balance the information you can glean from other tactics, such as a competitive scan, with the focus of the BBFG, to maximize valuable (and limited) question topics and participant time.

BBFGs in Action

Here are just a few examples of the different topics where MMS utilized BBFGs to develop deep qualitative insights for our clients:

  1. ELA educators and decision-makers on the topic of supplementals.
  2. NGSS standards and the impact on the materials adoption process.
  3. Modernizing physical education in schools.

Here’s what we heard after a recent BBFG designed and moderated by MMS:

Reach out to MMS today to find out more and learn if Bulletin-Board Focus Groups are a good fit for your education market research needs. 

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