At WSU, Spring is the time of year for rain and tulips–and also for student focus groups. A number of academic programs conduct focus groups with their graduating seniors during the last weeks of spring semester every year or every other year to get feedback about students’ experiences in their major. This semester the Neuroscience program, for example, held a focus group for the fourth year in a row. The program uses focus groups in addition to other assessments to identify gaps and concerns in the curriculum. Senior students enrolled in the Neuroscience Capstone course are asked to participate voluntarily in the focus group during final exam week. Participants fill out an individual questionnaire as well as respond to questions in large and small groups. ATL assessment specialists facilitate the discussion and provide a summary to the program. Recurring themes of concern have emerged over the years and have led to the redesign of two courses and the development of three additional courses, as well as changes in the order that classes are offered. According to Samantha Gizerian, Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience, “Without student input our curriculum would be less effective.” Samantha recently presented a poster about what their program has learned from focus groups at a Neuroscience faculty workshop.

If you think your program could benefit from a student focus group, see ATL’s focus group guidelines and contact ATL for more information.