TTV Blog 7 – Dig for a Deeper Meaning by Tanya
By: Tanya Iwas
As a student currently learning about research processes and training to moderate focus groups, my eyes have been opened to the level of detail that goes into this kind of work. As a high school student volunteering with the HEAL, I was never aware of how much I did not know about research. I only thought about research on a surface level, never about how the answers to the questions may have been influenced by circumstances affecting those interviewed. Factors such as the number of participants, the location and timing of the interview, the sensitivity of the topic, and the personal factors of each participant in a group can have an impact on their contribution.
Critically thinking about circumstances each participant may be going through in their personal lives is crucial while conducting focus groups. It allows the researcher to dig for a deeper meaning to some responses. For example, teens may have used vaping to help them cope with stress or anxiety caused by COVID-19. However, many of those teens have also had to hide their vaping habits from their family members during the quarantine. In addition, it would be a good idea to inform the participants that the moderators are in no way trying to impose their opinions on their habits; the focus groups will be judgment-free zones.
Reflecting on what I have learned so far, I realize how being a part of this project will help me to start looking at the world from multiple perspectives. Thinking about deeper questions to ask and seeking more than what is simply shown on the surface will allow my fellow teen co-researchers and I to truly make the most of this opportunity.