the focus group: a dual tool for educational research and teacher training

Main Article Content

Francesca Oddone
Andrea Maragliano


This paper describes the use of focus group discussion as a supplementary qualitative method for educational research. The study is part of a research project involving lower-secondary school teachers based in Genoa, who used a cloud-based training environment. Focus groups represented one of the various data collection tools adopted, for the purpose of in-depth qualitative analysis of teachers’ self-efficacy constructs and representations. Indications emerging from the study suggest that focus group discussion may serve not only as a research tool, but also as a means for professional development. According to observation and analysis, focus groups proved to be crucial in generating discussion and self-reflection among teachers, thus sustaining peer-learning and professional development within the professional community.

Article Details

Articles - General topics


Albanesi, C. (2014). I Focus Group. Roma, Italia: Carocci.

Albion, P. (1999). Self-efficacy beliefs as an indicator of teachers’ preparedness for teaching with technology. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education, 1602-1608.

Angiolani, M., & Oddone, F. (2015). Un laboratorio di formazione tra pari nella scuola secondaria di primo grado. Atti del convegno DIDAMATICA 2015, 15-17 aprile 2015, Genova, Italia.

Baldacci, M., & Frabboni, F. (2013). Manuale di metodologia della ricerca educativa. Torino, Italia: UTET.

Bandura, A. (2000). Autoefficacia. Teoria e applicazioni. Trento, Italia: Erickson.

Bandura, A. (2006). Guide for constructing Self-Efficacy Scales. In F. Pajares & T. Urdan (Eds.), Self-efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents (pp. 307-337). Greenwich, CT: IAP.

Bax, S. (2011). Normalisation Revisited: The Effective Use of Technology in Language Education. International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, 1(2). doi: 10.4018/ijcallt.2011040101

Benigno, V., Chifari, A., & Chiorri, C. (2014). Adottare le tecnologie a scuola: una scala per rilevare gli atteggiamenti e le credenze degli insegnanti. TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 22(1), 59-62.

Benigno, V., Chiorri, C., Chifari, A., & Manca. S. (2013). Adattamento italiano della Intrapersonal Technology Integration Scale, uno strumento per misurare gli atteggiamenti degli insegnanti nei confronti delle TIC. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, XL(4), 815-835.

Biasi, V., Domenici, G., Capobianco, R., & Patrizi, N. (2014). Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale (Scala sull’auto-efficacia del Docente): adattamento e validazione in Italia. ECPS Journal, 10, 485-509. doi: 10.7358/ecps-2014-010-bias

Bloor, M. (2002). I focus group nella ricerca sociale. Trento, Italia: Erickson.

Busetti, E., Dettori, G., Forcheri, P., & Ierardi, M. G. (2006). Promoting teachers’ collaborative re-use of educational materials. Innovative Approaches for Learning and Knowledge Sharing (Lecture Notes in Computer Science), 4227, 61-73. doi: 10.1007/11876663_7

Chao, C. (2015). Rethinking Transfer: Learning from CALL Teacher Education as consequential transition. Language Learning and Technology, 19(1), 102- 118.

Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2014). The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research: Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

De Ketele, J.-M., & Roegiers, X. (2013). Metodologia della raccolta di informazioni. Milano, Italia: Franco Angeli.

Domine, V. E. (2009). Rethinking Technology in Schools. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Donadio, S., & Cipolli, C. (2014). Dati e percezioni sullo sviluppo di una comunità di pratica online di docenti: il caso della scuola “Don Milani”. TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 22(1), 39-47.

Engeström, Y. (2009). The future of activity theory: A rough draft. In A. Sannino, H. Daniels, & C. Gutierrez (Eds.), Learning and expanding with activity theory (pp., 303-328). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Furedi, F. (2003). Therapy Culture. Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age. London, UK: Routledge.

Gianferrari, L. (2009). Profilo professionale e competenze dei docenti neoassunti. FGA Working Paper, 10(1). Retrieved from media/Laura_Gianferrari__Docenti_ neoassunti_2007-8__FGA_WP10.doc.pdf

Guichon, N. (2012). Vers l’intégration des TIC dans l’enseignement des langues. Paris, France: Didier.

Kitzinger, J. (2005). Developing Focus Group Research: Politics, Theory and Practice. London, UK: SAGE.

Krueger, R. A. (2009). Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. London, UK: SAGE.
McNiff, J. (2013). Action research: Principles and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi:10.1111/0161-4681.00141

MIUR (2015). Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale. Retrieved from http://www. Materiali/pnsd-layout-30.10-WEB.pdf

Oddone, F. (2016a). Cloud Computing Applications and Services fostering Teachers’ Self-Efficacy. Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, 12(2), 15-25.

Oddone, F. (2016b). Self-Efficacy: a booster for pedagogical innovation. Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, 12(3), 51-64.

Oddone, F., & Firpo, E. (2015). Gli ostacoli all’innovazione didattica e l’attuale profilo professionale docente. TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 23(2), 112-120.

OECD (2009). Programme for International Student Assessment. Retrieved from

OECD (2013). An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from: allegati/2014/OCSE_TALIS_Rapporto_ Internazionale_EN.pdf

OECD (2015). Education at a glance. Retrieved from italy/Education-at-a-glance-2015-Italyin- Italian.pdf

Pozzi, F., Persico, D., & Sarti, L. (2015). Evaluating the acceptance of an Innovative Learning Design Environment within Communities of Practitioners. In Proceedings of WCES 2014, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1019- 1023. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.398

Trinchero, R. (2002). Manuale di ricerca educativa. Milano, Italia: Franco Angeli.

Tschannen-Moran, M., & Chen, J. A. (2015). Focusing Attention on Beliefs about Capability and Knowledge in Teachers’ Professional Development. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate. net/profile/Megan_Tschannen-Moran/ publication/261760691_Focusing_ attention_on_beliefs_about_ capability_and_knowledge_in_ teachers’_professional_development/ links/552818450cf2e089a3a395d6.pdf

Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783-805.

UNESCO, 2008. ICT Competency Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from images/0015/001562/156207e.pdf

Williams, A., & Katz, L. (2001). The Use of Focus Group Methodology in Education: Some Theoretical and Practical Considerations. International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning, 5(3).

Zammuner, V. L. (2003). I focus group. Bologna, Italia: Il Mulino.