Docstoc

Summary of Focus Group Interview

Document Sample
Summary of Focus Group Interview Powered By Docstoc
					Summary of Focus Group Interview
       Please fill one summary for each focus group discussion
       Write important things which were mentioned under the specific
       question complex.
       If there are important/interesting supplements add them also!
       Always have in mind, that we (who have to analyse the discussion)
       don’t know the context of the interview situation/interviewed persons.
       The summary should be up to 2-4 pages (excluding the biographical
       data).
       It would be helpful to discuss similarities and differences between the
       female and the male discussion group on an extra sheet, just your
       rough impressions.


Introduction

degree course:       Chemical engineering with Pharmaceutical Chemistry

university:          Heriot-Watt University

interviewees:      Leigh and Colin (Mechanical Engineering students were
also supposed to come but failed to show)

reference person/    Chemical Engineering Lecturer

connection to the interviewees:    Teaches them

group:
preparation:

Executive summary

Place:               classroom in Heriot-Watt chemistry department
Duration:            1.5 hours
Moderation:          Maureen Cooper and Cathy McLean
Issues:
issues missed:       some of the biographical information is missing

Methodological remarks: Unfortunately it was very difficult to find students to
come along. Mechanical Engineers and Electrical Engineers proved less
cooperative than the Chemical Engineers – perhaps this has something to do
with the very low numbers of women in these course. The two students were
open and thoughtful and enthusiastic.

Main results and analysis:

1. Study background: Mr 1 was originally was going to do Chemistry but at the
Open Day it was suggested he do Chemical engineering. He had been
guided by a joint effort from a chemistry teacher at school and a lecturer at
Heriot-Watt. He had carried out experimental work for his 6th year chemistry
project at Heriot-Watt and this encouraged him to attend that institution. He
enjoyed problem solving and was logical and he wanted more than he could
get from studying chemistry alone. Mr 2 agreed he wanted more than the pure
subject. His brother had studied chemical engineering. Mr 2 decided he
wanted something with more emphasis on Biology so encouraged by his
chemistry teacher he chose the combined degree with pharmaceutical
chemistry. Both found their parents were supportive and encouraging in
general terms – find something to do that they will enjoy and that will support
them. Once they opted for engineering their parents were very supportive.

Mr 1 had chosen Heriot-Watt because it was one of the local universities. He
already had links with the Chemistry Department, knew the facilities, and
found the staff were really friendly. The Open Day was good. The reputation
of HW was good; his dad had mechanical engineering friends who spoke
highly of that department. He liked the facilities and thought that Heriot-Watt
was more dynamic than other Universities he visited.

He had decided at the last minute to try for university that year and it was
easier to stay at home, also less expensive for his parents. It allowed him to
run a car which made travel to and from university relatively easy. He could
stay over with friends after a night out if he wished.

Mr 2 had chosen to stay in Scotland as the school course is more compatible
with Scottish degrees than English degrees. He had narrowed choices by
finding reasons to discount places – like people being off hand at Open Days,
or finding a city dark and unwelcoming. Again he chose Heriot-Watt because
he thought it was friendlier, warmer, smaller and more personal than other
places he had considered. He thought perhaps Heriot-Watt appealed to him
because he had come from a small town and a small school.

In early years of the course there are many common classes, such as maths
adn chemistry and biology. In later years it becomes more specialised.
Honours classes are very specialist but in the Masters Course classes are
shared with other Masters students. They have found there is little mixing
between the chemistry students and the chemical engineers, but this may in
part be due to the fact the chemical engineering students tend to outperform
the straight chemistry students but it may be due to the fact that they have
made friends with the people in their own course.

Mr 1 did not work hard enough in first year and thought of dropping out after
he failed Maths. His mentor encouraged him to attend revision classes over
the summer and he passed the resit and was then confident that he could
cope with work at any level. Mr 2 spent a year in industry and found it difficult
to adjust to being a student agian. He thought of dropping out breifly but
decide he had come too far to quit.
.
For their course the choice to embark on the Masters degree is made at the
end of second year and group work becomes an increasingly important
component of the course in successive years.
There was a lot of spoon-feeding in teaching in the early years but some
students then found it difficult in later years to actually take notes. Group
work was introduced in later years, but cross-disciplinary projects can be
artificial.

2. Culture and social network:
Mr 2 recollected there was some kind of department welcome activity in
Fresher’s week but he could not recall what had happened. Mr 1 missed
most of the Fresher’s week activities because he did not receive a ‘Welcome
Pack’ in time and felt that he did not settle in so well. His first contact was
when he came along to register for classes and he felt as if he was dropped in
at the deep end. He felt at a disadvantage compared with students staying in
Halls of residence. He recollected being told they don’t repair washing
machines – they build chemical plants.

There was no special event for the class to get to know each other because
the classes were relatively small anyway, with about 27 students in first year.

There was an hour’s Introduction by the Departmental Head who explained
about mentors, Director of Studies. Classes were very small and informative

The Chemical Engineering Society had just been resurrected by a core of 5
students including the two interviewees and 2/3 lecturers. It aimed to get the
years together with social activities – for example a staff/student pub quiz;
student mentoring; Frank Morton Chemical Eng Sports day; improved industry
links; networking; site visits.

Currently student in different years are ‚territorial’ and don’t mix in the social
areas so one idea is to introduce student mentoring – so students in later
years of the course can help more junior students. The idea of improving
industry links is to provide chances to network, to arrange informal site visits
which would give more insight into what it is really like to be a chemical
engineer, as opposed to a visit for course work reasons.

3. Image of engineers:
One recollected being told at a welcome meeting in first year - they don’t
repair washing machines – they build chemical plants.

4. Questions for males resp. females:
For their course the choice to embark on the Masters degree is made at the
end of second year and group work becomes an increasingly important
component of the course in successive years.

The interviewees were of the opinion that In group work some groups need
someone to direct them whereas in other groups people sometimes don’t
work together well. They think that if groups work differently it is due to
personality rather than gender. There are currently two women in a group of
six on their course and the interviewees agree they are at least as able as the
male students. Mr 2 thought women might have a slightly different slant on
things but in terms of group work it doesn’t make a difference. Groups vary
when they carry out projects with other masters students but there has never
been an all female group. There have been all male groups because of a lack
of females. The interviewees think that group dynamics can depend very
much on the personality of individuals in the group – regardless of gender and
it is not necessarily the case that women are always the calming influence in a
mixed group. Mr 1 thinks having men in a class is good for women because
when they move out to industry they will be working mostly with men who may
not be so considerate.

They hadn’t noticed any difference in the way women students were treated
either favourably or to their disadvantage. They did not think female staff
treated male and female students differently either

One student who had transferred from another University had dropped out
because she had a baby. Other than that they were not aware of women
having different reasons for dropping out.

5. Final remarks:

Conclusion:

This is a course with a high proportion of females and individual personality is
‘allowed’ to emerge, similar to what has been observed in a course with a high
propotion of females at another university.
Summary of biographical data

      Please add the information according to the answers of the participants
      One for each participant Mr 1

1st participant:
     Sex                                 male
    
     Age                                  22
    
     Nationality                         Scottish
    
     University                          Heriot-Watt
    
     Degree course                         Chemical Engineering with Pharmaceutical Chemistr
    
     Semester                              3rd term Year 4 of 5 (Still operating on terms)
    
     Non engineering subjects during study Maths and Chemistry:
    
     Information about the mother:
    
     Information about the father:
    
     Information about grandparents:
    
     Is anyone (else) in her/his family an engineer?  no
    
        who:
     Is anyone else who has a significant influence on you an engineer?
    
         yes                                      no
        If yes, who? Please specify: __________________________________

    Where did she/he grow up: Dalkeith, on outskirts of Edinburgh
   High School background:

    Type of high school:
    state school  co-educational school
Summary of biographical data

       Please add the information according to the answers of the participants
       One for each participant   Mr 2

1st participant:
     Sex            male
    
     Age           _23______
    
     Nationality Scottish
    
     University    __Heriot-Watt__
    
     Degree course        Chemical Engineering with Pharmaceutical
        Chemistry
     Semester             3rd term of year 5 of 6
    
     Non engineering subjects during study: Maths and Chemistry
    
     Information about the mother:       Mother works in Education
    
     Information about the father:       Father has a forestry degree
    
     Information about grandparents:
    
     Is anyone (else) in her/his family an engineer?  yes
        who: His brother has also trained as a chemical engineer

      Is anyone else who has a significant influence on you an engineer?
        no
       If yes, who? Please specify:
       ____ ______________________________

    Where did she/he grow up: Fochabers in NE Scotland
   
   High School background:
    Type of high school:
   
    state school          co-educational school

				
DOCUMENT INFO