Students Engaging Students to Improve Learning: Using Student-Led Focus Groups to Gather and Make Sense of Assessment Evidence

A Teagle Assessment Scholar workshop at the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College

In March 2016, the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College hosted a workshop to help institutions create and implement student-led focus groups to address institutional assessment questions. This was the fifth time since 2008 that the Center hosted a workshop to train students to lead focus groups with their peers. Ten teams, comprised of staff, faculty members, and students, gathered from Antioch College, California State University Stanislaus, Elon University, Flagler College, Illinois College, Kentucky Wesleyan College, North Carolina State University, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Scranton, and the University of Vermont.

Groups participated in training sessions, mock focus groups, poster sessions, and were able to work one-on-one with the Teagle Scholars and Center of Inquiry staff. The ten teams were focused on a variety of topics, such as diversity experiences on campus, multi- and interdisciplinary thinking, retaining at-risk students, and evaluating core competencies and student learning outcomes. Each team created a detailed plan to share with others at their institutions and to help them implement their focus groups. Teagle Assessment Scholars Leah Adams-Curtis (Knox College), Cindy Crimmins (York College of Pennsylvania), Anne Dueweke (Kalamazoo College) and Cathy Zeek (Lasell College) worked with the teams. Students Breanna Beard and Christopher Watkins from North Carolina A&T State University led the training for the teams. They were joined by their faculty advisors Galen Foresman, Karen Hornsby, and Scott Simkins.

The workshop was a success, with one attendee saying, “We came not really knowing much, except that the idea of students leading focus groups for students was intriguing. We leave with a plan for our own scholars group/program. I especially enjoyed the presentations by the A&T students.” Another participant said, “The workshop was particularly helpful in taking a project that was only an idea at the start and transforming it into an actionable plan.”

The Center will continue to host workshops to help institutions develop student-led focus groups initiatives because we believe this is an important component of assessment. Take a look at our workshop webpage to see if a workshop on this topic is coming up.

See the agenda and a list of the participants from the March 2016 workshop.