Be careful how you ask! Using focus groups and nominal group technique to expore the barriers to learning

Jill Porter

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Schools have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils who experience barriers to learning. Inclusive approaches to data collection ensure that the needs of all children who are struggling are not overlooked. However it is important that the methods promote sustained reflection on the part of all children; don’t inadvertently accentuate differences between pupils; nor allow individual needs to go unrecognized. This paper examines more closely the processes involved in using Nominal Group Technique to collect the views of children with and without a disability on the difficulties experienced in school. Data were collected on the process as well as the outcomes of using this technique to examine how pupil views are transformed from the individual to the collective, a process that involves making the private, public. Contrasts are drawn with questionnaire data, another method of data collection favoured by teachers. Although more time-efficient this can produce unclear and cursory responses. The views that surface from pupils need also to be seen within the context of the ways in which schools customise the data collection process and the ways in which the format and organization of the activity impact on the responses and responsiveness of the pupils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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