Introduction to the Study
The Campus Climate Focus Group Research Project was initiated at the request of
the Campus Climate Committee (CCC), a Presidential advisory group composed of faculty, students, administrators, and staff. This study examines campus climate at SJSU based on data collected from thirteen focus groups composed of administrators, faculty, staff, and students. The initial impetus for this study came from findings of the 2006 Campus Climate Survey conducted by the CCC. As is
common practice in social science research, this research project was designed as a “follow
to offer a deeper understanding of the survey results (Morgan 1996). The primary goal of this research project was to explore experiences of campus climate through the lens of race, gender, sexuality and rank. Data collection began February, 2009 and ended November, 2009. The thirteen groups included in this study were:
African American, Asian American, International, Latino, LGBT, and White students, and African American, Asian American, Latino, LGBT, and women faculty and staff, lecturers, and MPPs.
Introduction to Focus Group Methodology
Focus group methodology is, “a research technique that collects data through group interaction on a topic determined by the researcher” (Morgan, 1996:130). Focus groups are
generally small (6-10 people) and are convened for a one-time discussion of a specific topic (Reinharz 1992). The logic of focus group methodology resides somewhere in between inductive and deductive approaches. The groups are typically convened around a specific topic and are guided by an interview schedule, however, the research questions can also be treated
as merely “probes” and the discussions allowed to range freely.
The advantage of focus groups (as compared with individual interviews) is that they can create a deeper exploration of complex topics as they allow participants to ask questions of and explain themselves to one another. Carey and Smith (1994) have termed this