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A case study of the utility of focus groups for program evaluation involving non-English speaking program.. 1997

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A CASE S T U D Y O F T H E U T I L I T Y O F F O C U S GROUPS F O R P R O G R A M E V A L U A T I O N I N V O L V I N G N O N - E N G L I S H S P E A K I N G P R O G R A M P A R T I C I P A N T S by A D E L E D E N I S E R T T C H B.Ed. , The Univers i ty o f A lber ta , 1978 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S FOR T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S Department o f Educat ional Studies W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A October 1997 ©Ade le Denise Ri tch , 1997 In presenting this thesis in partial fu l f i lment > o f the requirements; for an advanced degree at the University of British: Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication o f this thesis for. financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. . >,'.•.• Department of • f~~<d[ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada . V ' - • '-. Date A r - V o W / - 1 %[ I ^ ̂ 1- •'•. DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T In an English language context, the ability o f program participants with limited English competency to participate in program evaluation processes is restricted. However, when program participants are invited to discuss their experiences in their preferred language, they make meaningful contributions as program stakeholders. Within the context o f a program evaluation o f the Nobody's Perfect Parenting Program (Ritch & McLaren, 1994), a case study approach was used to determine the utility of focus groups as a program evaluation methodology with non English speaking program participants. Six focus groups were facilitated by bilingual, bicultural facilitators using a set o f questions to encourage participants to discuss their experiences in the program and to offer suggestions for program improvement. Analysis o f these focus groups yielded new and useful information for program planners and policy makers. This work showed that people who are generally excluded from research samples because o f linguistic barriers are able to participate as stakeholders in the evaluation process when their participation is sought in their preferred language. In their own language, participants provided feedback to program planners and policy makers which they were not able to provide in English. Through this process, their response to the program and their recommendations for improvement became known. The inclusion o f program participants in the evaluation o f the Nobody's Perfect Program focused attention on detennining evaluation methodologies which would effectively include program participants from diverse cultural groups who are not English speakers. i i i T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S Abstract i i Acknowledgment v Chapter One: In t roduct ion 1 mvorv ing N o n Engl ish Speaking Participants i n P rogram Evaluat ion 1 Descr ip t ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Parenting P rog ram Evaluat ion 3 Choosing Focus Groups as an Evaluat ion M e t h o d 6 Case Study o f Focus Groups Us ing Languages Other Than Engl ish 8 Chapter T w o : L i terature Rev iew 11 Focus Groups i n P rogram Evaluat ion 11 Under Representation o f M i n o r i t y Groups in P rogram Evaluat ion 14 Using Focus Groups W i t h "Spec ia l " Populat ions 20 Use o f Language in Research Processes 23 Chapter Three: Me thodo logy 28 The Case Study Approach 28 Deve lop ing the Focus Group Questions 30 Focus Group Faci l i tators 32 Cross Cul tura l Faci l i tat ion o f Focus Groups 36 Focus Group Composi t ion 38 Permission to Participate 4 1 Support f o r Parent Part ic ipat ion 42 Conduct ing the Focus Groups 43 Record ing, Transcr ipt ion and Translat ion o f Focus Group Data 44 Chapter Four : Analysis o f Focus Groups 48 Understanding Part icipants' Response to the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m 48 W h y d id y o u Choose to Participate in N o b o d y ' s Perfect? 51 W h a t d id y o u L i k e A b o u t the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program? 55 W h a t d id y o u Learn F r o m the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program? 58 D i d the Leader o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram Seem M o r e L i k e a Teacher or a Facil i tator? 62 D i d the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram Seem Appropr ia te to Y o u r Culture? 67 H o w Were the N o b o d y ' s Perfect B o o k s Usefu l t o y o u and W h a t Suggestions do y o u Have f o r Improvement? 69 What Ideas do y o u Have fo r Improv ing the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program? 74 iv Chapter Five: Summary and Conclusions 76 Involvement o f N o n Engl ish Speaking P rog ram Part icipants i n P rog ram Evaluat ion 76 L imi ta t ions o f Focus Groups 80 Translat ion Processes 83 P rog ram Evaluat ion Standards 84 Bib l iography 85 Append ix 91 A C K N O W L E D G M E N T I w i sh t o thank the members o f m y research committee, Dr . Judi th Ot toson and Dr . Bernie M o h a n f o r their enthusiasm and insight. I part icular ly thank m y Facul ty Adv isor , D r . T o m Sork, f o r his patience, flexibility and clar i ty throughout this study. I also w ish t o thank m y fami ly and fr iends w h o in so many ways supported the complet ion o f th is thesis. I express sincere grat i tude to m y l i fe partner, Dianne Liscumb. Her involvement th roughout the study and cri t ique o f the many drafts enriched al l aspects o f this w o r k . 1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Involving Non English Speaking Participants in Program Evaluation The demand fo r accountabi l i ty o f publ ic ly funded programs is on the rise creating an increasing need fo r relevant and comprehensive evaluation o f such programs. Fami ly support services such as parent ing programs offered th rough community-based non-pro f i t agencies are a part icular type o f publ ic ly funded p r o g r a m wh ich require the development o f evaluation strategies w h i c h are effective and appropriate to the settings and circumstances typ ica l o f such services. A t many communi ty service agencies, fami ly support programs n o w include programs conducted in languages other than Engl ish fo r families o f diverse cul tural and l inguist ic backgrounds w h o prefer to attend programs where their f i rst language is spoken. Evaluat ion o f these programs offers part icular challenges fo r p r o g r a m evaluation. T o date, evaluation o f fami ly support programs has been done pr imar i ly w i t h wh i te , middle to upper class, Engl ish speaking populat ions. The omission o f p r o g r a m part ic ipants w h o do no t speak Engl ish f r o m evaluation studies leads to the underreport ing o f the impact o f these programs in these cul tural and l inguist ic communit ies (Johnson, Beiser & Krech , 1 9 9 1 ; L inco ln , 1991 ; Mad ison , 1992; M o r g a n , 1993) . Whi le there are numerous studies o f parent education programs using var ious research designs, f e w investigations have been directed 2 t o w a r d evaluating the effectiveness o f parent ing programs fo r parents o f different educational and socioeconomic status (Dangel & Polster, 1985) . A s w e l l the c o m m o n pract ice o f ident i fy ing b i l i ngua l b icul tura l individuals (of ten staff) t o act as a "b r idge" between p r o g r a m part icipants and the p r o g r a m evaluator does no t address the need to integrate p r o g r a m part icipants in to evaluation processes. I n order to respond to the cul tural and l inguist ic barriers t o part ic ipat ion o f p r o g r a m part icipants i n the evaluation o f community-based fami ly support programs, i t is crucial f o r evaluators to develop comprehensive, pract ical and effective evaluation methods that address the reali ty o f the fami ly diversity usually found in the general popula t ion today. The important question fo r evaluation o f social programs is no t whether the process used is capable o f detennining t ru th (Mad ison, 1992) . I t is more cr i t ical that the "d iscovery o f t r u th entail mechanisms f o r input from the populat ions most direct ly affected by social p o l i c y " (Madison, 1992, p. 1) . Mad ison contends that evaluators have an "ethical and mora l obl igat ion to examine the efficacy o f existing evaluation technologies i n determining the impact o f social programs on the l ives o f the p o o r and minor i t ies" (Mad ison , 1992, p. 1) . Evaluators o f social programs must consider evaluation methods that address the part icular needs o f n o n Engl ish speaking part icipants enabling them t o be included as stakeholders i n the evaluation process. I t must be recognized that when people have l imi ted Engl ish competency, their abi l i ty t o part ic ipate in meamngfuL evaluative conversations conducted in Engl ish, about their experiences in programs is l imited. W i t h i n an Engl ish language context, in fo rmat ion 3 gathered f r o m p r o g r a m part ic ipants w i t h l imi ted Engl ish skil ls w i l l always be less complete than that o f first language Engl ish speakers. However , w h e n p r o g r a m part ic ipants are invi ted to engage i n the evaluat ion process in their preferred language, they have an oppor tun i ty to make a meaningful cont r ibut ion to the evaluation process (Guba & L inco ln , 1989) . A s the number o f fami ly support programs i n languages other than Engl ish increases, i t becomes cr i t ical t o address the complexit ies inherent i n the evaluations o f such programs th rough the development o f methodologies wh ich w i l l encourage the involvement o f p r o g r a m part icipants and prov ide useful in format ion fo r p rog ram planners and po l icy makers. Description of the Nobody's Perfect Parenting Program Evaluation The N o b o d y ' s Perfect Parenting Program is described as being based o n an "adul t education mode l . " The p r o g r a m manual describes this mode l as one where part ic ipants learn th rough discussion w i t h others, rather than f r o m an "exper t " p rov id ing in format ion. This mode l distinguishes N o b o d y ' s Perfect f r o m other w e l l - k n o w n parent ing programs where a part icular approach t o parent ing is " taugh t " to parents by a professional educator. N o b o d y ' s Perfect is based on the premise that parents attending the group have experience and knowledge about parent ing and that they come together to learn more b y sharing their experiences w i t h other parents. The goals o f the Nobody 's Perfect P rogram are: • T o increase parents ' knowledge and understanding o f children's health, safety and behaviour. • T o effect posi t ive change in parents' behaviour relative t o their children's health, safety and behaviour. • T o improve parents ' coping skills. • T o improve parents ' confidence and self-esteem as parents. • T o bu i ld self-help and mutua l support networks. Groups o f 8-12 parents meet once a week fo r 6-8 weeks t o discuss parent ing issues. These groups are faci l i tated by hidividuals trained in faci l i tat ion methods and w h o are famil iar w i t h the content and phi losophy o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program. These group faci l i tators w o r k w i t h the g roup to develop an agenda wh ich relates to the interests o f the g roup participants. N o b o d y ' s Perfect p r o g r a m materials include five books entit led " B o d y , " "Safe ty , " ' M i n d , " "Behav iour , " and "Parents." These books contain in format ion about chi ldren's physical, intel lectual and emot ional development, in jury prevent ion, and p r o b l e m solving. These pla in language, i l lustrated books are published by Heal th Canada and are p rov ided to al l p r o g r a m part icipants free o f charge. Cri ter ia fo r par t ic ipat ion in the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram includes parents w i t h chi ldren under six years o ld w h o may be young, single, have l o w education and have l o w incomes or w h o may be socially, geographically, or cul tural ly isolated. P rog ram fees, lack o f chi ld care and t ransportat ion needs are recognized as common barriers prevent ing many parents from part ic ipat ing in parent ing programs (Cross, 1 9 8 1 ; Stevens, 1993) . I n recogni t ion o f these obstacles, the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram is offered at no charge and includes on-site chi ld 5 minding Transportat ion costs are covered fo r parents w h o express a need fo r this support and snacks or meals are frequent ly prov ided. These supports are an integral part o f the implementat ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram throughout Br i t i sh Columbia and are considered essential t o a l low parents o f small chi ldren to attend. I n Vancouver , many parents part icipate i n the p r o g r a m in languages in addit ion to Engl ish including Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese, and other languages as required. Over the past ten years numerous evaluations f r o m mult ip le perspectives have been done federally and provinc ia l ly to determine the effectiveness o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram in meeting i ts goals and objectives. Each o f these evaluations has ident i f ied N o b o d y ' s Perfect as a h ighly successful p r o g r a m (Brochu , 1992; Rivers and Assoc., 1990; VanderPlaat, 1988) . However , none o f these evaluations addressed implementat ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram w i t h part ic ipants w h o speak languages other than Engl ish part icular ly the var ious cul tural and l inguist ic aspects o f p r o g r a m content and delivery. Because o f l inguist ic and cul tural barriers n o n Engl ish speaking parents were unable to contr ibute to the usual p r o g r a m evaluation processes o f surveys, impact studies or satisfaction scales. I n 1994, an evaluat ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram in languages other than Engl ish was conducted in Vancouver , Canada (R i tch & M c L a r e n , 1994) . I n the context o f this comprehensive p r o g r a m evaluation, six focus groups were implemented w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part ic ipants t o enable p r o g r a m planners and po l i cy makers t o learn about the part icular experiences o f n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m participants. These six focus 6 groups fo rmed the basis o f this current study to determine the u t i l i ty o f focus groups to prov ide n e w and useful in format ion fo r p rog ram planning and po l icy making. Heal th Canada was part icular ly interested i n obtaining reactions o f n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants to the p r o g r a m books w h i c h are a fundamental part o f the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m and are prov ided free o f charge t o all p r o g r a m part icipants throughout the country. A s we l l , the agencies invo lved in p r o g r a m implementat ion and the prov inc ia l government, as a p r o g r a m funder, were al l interested in learning more about h o w this p r o g r a m was being implemented w i t h diverse cul tural groups. Choosing Focus Groups as an Evaluation Method One o f the key contextual factors w h i c h shaped the evaluat ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram was the inclusion o f p r o g r a m participants w h o did no t speak Engl ish as key stakeholders (Shadish, Cook , & Lev i ton , 1991) . I n part icular, a pr imary consideration in the development o f the evaluation design and choice o f data col lect ion methods was an emphasis on ensuring the involvement o f part icipants from N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups faci l i tated in languages other than English. I n this regard, the focus group, wh ich typical ly consists o f approximately 8 to 12 people, faci l i tated in a carefully planned discussion b y a skil led faci l i tator, was chosen as the most effective method. Focus groups are of ten used in p r o g r a m evaluation w h e n the goal is to obtain i n depth in format ion about a part icular topic. Through focus groups evaluators hope t o learn about issues that are best accessed th rough group conversation and discussion. I n this situation the focus group format p rov ided an oppor tun i ty 7 to obtain meaningful and comprehensive in format ion about the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram from group participants. Focus group questions involved t h e m in discussions about their experiences in the p r o g r a m and asked them fo r suggestions fo r i ts improvement. M o r g a n (1997) describes focus groups in the fo l l ow ing manner: Focus groups are basically group interviews.. .where the reliance is o n interact ion w i th in the group, based on topics that are supplied by the researcher w h o typical ly takes the ro le o f a moderator. The hal lmark o f focus groups is their expl ici t use o f group interact ion to produce data and insights that w o u l d be less accessible w i thou t the interact ion found in a group, (p .2) M o r g a n ' s descript ion o f focus group methodology is congruent w i t h the central aspect o f the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram where part icipants are especially encouraged to share in format ion, ideas and feelings w i t h each other and bu i ld knowledge th rough the exchange o f var ious personal perspectives. The similari ty between the research method and the p r o g r a m i tsel f made the focus group seem a most appropriate evaluation method f o r obtaining in format ion from p r o g r a m part icipants. I n contrast, surveys were no t considered to be as appropriate fo r the evaluation o f the Nobody 's Perfect P rogram because the approach did not fit w e l l w i t h the goals o f the evaluation w h i c h emphasized people 's reactions t o the p r o g r a m rather than ident i f icat ion o f 8 specific and measurable p r o g r a m effects or outcomes. A lso , implementat ion o f surveys can be di f f icul t w i t h populat ions w h o may no t be used to such instruments and w h o may no t be l i terate in Engl ish or other languages (Weiss, 1988) . Finally, translat ion o f survey instruments raises some complex issues including questions o f vaUdity i n a cross cul tural context (Boshier, 1991 ; E r v i n & Bower , 1953) . Use o f mdiv idua l interv iews w i t h part icipants was also deemed less valuable than focus groups fo r this evaluation. Personal interviews w i t h part icipants runs counter t o the previous experience o f these individuals w h o had come to rely on group support i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m t o express and exchange ideas. Whi le interv iews are generally ideal fo r obtaining in format ion about people 's feelings and experiences, they may no t be prudent i n al l situations. The in terv iew process involves an indiv idual part icipant in an intensive conversation w i t h an interviewer. Agency staff revealed that many p r o g r a m part icipants were "shy " and w o u l d probably no t volunteer fo r an indiv idual interv iew. These considerations along w i t h the h igh cost o f translat ion o f numerous in terv iew transcripts were strong factors i n deciding to proceed w i t h focus groups. Case Study of Focus Groups Using Languages Other Than English This thesis examines the u t i l i t y o f focus groups as a p rog ram evaluation methodo logy th rough a case study approach. The case study describes the development and implementat ion o f focus groups i n languages other than Engl ish and analyzes the extent to w h i c h these focus groups enabled part ic ipants t o prov ide n e w and useful in format ion to p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers. The purpose o f th is case study was t o determine the u t i l i t y o f focus groups as a p rog ram evaluation methodology w i t h p rog ram participants f r o m diverse cul tura l and l inguist ic backgrounds w h o are not confident Engl ish speakers. I n the context o f this study, u t i l i t y is considered to be the extent to wh ich the use o f focus groups contr ibutes to the abil i ty o f n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants to : • Participate as stakeholders i n the p rog ram evaluation process. • Provide elaborate descriptions o f their experience w i t h the p r o g r a m • Offer in fo rmat ion wh ich is useful f o r p r o g r a m planning decisions. This study indicates that people w h o are generally excluded f r o m research samples because o f l inguist ic barriers are able to part icipate as stakeholders i n the evaluation process when their part ic ipat ion is sought in their preferred language. Focus group discussions i n part ic ipants ' f irst language enable t h e m to fu l ly contr ibute to the evaluation process and prov ide p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers w i t h considerable in format ion about part ic ipants ' experience in the p r o g r a m as w e l l as ve ry clear directions fo r p r o g r a m improvement. Accord ing t o Br is l in (1981) , n o n Engl ish speaking part icipants may be invisible i n the evaluation context w h e n their opinions are no t sought in their preferred language. Th rough the use o f focus groups, n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants p rov ided in format ion that w o u l d otherwise have been unheard by p rog ram planners and po l icy makers. P rog ram part icipants became stakeholders in the evaluation process th rough par t ic ipat ion in a focus group discussion in their preferred language. Understanding the u t i l i ty o f focus groups fo r p rov id ing useful in format ion w h i c h is otherwise not available w i l l encourage the use o f focus groups as a methodo logy in the p r o g r a m evaluation field ( M o r g a n , 1997) . 11 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Focus Groups In Program Evaluation The use o f focus groups is a qualitative research approach designed t o obtain i n depth in format ion, understanding and ideas about a specific area o f interest (Basch, 1987; Kruegar, 1 9 9 4 ) . Focus groups are becoming increasingly popular as a p r o g r a m evaluat ion method fo r evaluators o f adult education programs to prov ide insight in to the att i tudes, perceptions, and opinions o f part ic ipants (Krueger, 1994; M o r g a n , 1993; M o r g a n , 1997) . Indeed, there has been a rap id and dramatic increase in the use o f focus groups i n a w i d e range o f research situations dur ing the past ten years ( M o r g a n , 1997) . Or iginal ly called focused interviews, this technique became popular dur ing the late 1940's after i t was first used by Rober t M e r t o n t o evaluate radio programs in the Un i ted States (Stewart & Shamdasani, 1990) . M e r t o n and others developed the focused in terv iew technique, modi fy ing the procedures fo r their o w n research needs. Focus groups have since become an impor tant t o o l f o r researchers i n many fields inc luding p r o g r a m evaluation, market ing, publ ic pol icy, advertising and conimunicat ions (Stewart & Shamdasani, 1 9 9 0 ) . I n the field o f health education, health educators had used small group process as a method fo r p r o g r a m delivery, skills t ra in ing, p rob lem solving, and organizing individuals and groups, but focus groups f o r research purposes were n o t used un t i l the 1980s (Basch, 1987) . The usefulness o f focus groups as a research t o o l i n health education, p r o g r a m planning and p r o g r a m evaluat ion has been w ide ly recognized and indeed m u c h o f the l i terature about focus groups has been wr i t t en in the last ten years (Basch, 1987; Kreuger , 1994; M o r g a n , 1997) . Focus groups may be used in many ways fo r research and bo th Krueger (1994) and M o r g a n (1997) encourage researchers t o experiment w i t h the range o f possibil i t ies f o r focus groups. M o r g a n (1997) suggests that there is no "one r ight w a y " t o do focus groups and encourages researchers to make choices that w i l l enhance bo th the research process and the resultant in format ion. Basch (1987) suggests that along w i t h the synergism vvithin groups w h i c h can uncover important understandings, there is potent ia l f o r groups to prov ide a secure setting fo r individuals to express ideas, part icular ly those related t o sensitive areas. The group process al lows comments f r o m one part icipant to stimulate ideas fo r other part icipants and provides opportuni t ies f o r part ic ipants ' o w n thoughts and theories about a top ic t o be considered alongside other ideas derived f r o m existing theory or p r io r research ( M o r g a n & Spanish, 1984) . M u l l e n and Reynolds (1982) argue that approaches w h i c h are concerned w i t h uncover ing the meanings, definit ions and interpretations made by the subjects o f the study are more l ike ly t o accurately depict their pr ior i t ies than methods w h i c h begin b y preconceiving that w o r l d and i ts meaning. Basch (1987) states that "understanding the target g roup 's perspective is integral t o achieving the goals o f health education and focus group interv iews are an appropriate method f o r understanding and developing sensitivity t o w a r d those w e serve" (p. 4 3 6 ) . 13 Focus groups are part icular ly w e l l suited to investigations wh ich hope to obtain a w ide range o f in format ion, a l lowing part icipants to explore issues and suggest improvements to programs. The focus group discussions conducted as part o f the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram al lowed the researcher to d raw on the rapport previously established among part icipants i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram and therefore begin the evaluative process w i t h part icipants i n a safe, famil iar and comfortable environment. The focus g roup has the advantage o f a l lowing people t ime to reflect and recal l experiences (Lo f land & Lo f land , 1995) . Responses f r o m indiv idual part icipants can spark ideas, memories, opinions or connections fo r other part icipants (Basch, 1987; Krueger, 1994; Lo f land & Lo f land , 1995) . The focus group, where part ic ipants are simultaneously inf luencing and are inf luenced b y others, provides a natural environment fo r the process o f exchange and bu i ld ing o f knowledge (Krueger, 1994) . Focus groups have become a w ide ly used t o o l fo r gathering in format ion and many evaluators have indicated a need fo r fur ther w o r k using focus groups in "specia l " populat ions (Krueger, 1994; M o r g a n , 1997) . However , th is w o r k has no t been w ide ly done o r reported. Y e t , the focus group seems part icular ly suited fo r obtaining in format ion from special populat ions especially w h e n p r o g r a m init iat ives such as parent ing groups are target ing populat ions wh ich may not be typical ly invo lved in health education and prevent ion programs (Lengua et aL 1 9 9 2 ) . 14 Program evaluat ion processes in prevent ion programs w i t h part icipants w h o speak l imi ted Engl ish are of ten a source o f great f rustrat ion fo r staff i n community-based agencies. Engl ish speaking agency staf f report that when they seek part ic ipants ' opinions about the effectiveness o f programs, part ic ipants w h o speak Engl ish as a second language w i l l typ ical ly give simplistic responses compared t o the comprehensive feedback received f r o m first language Engl ish speakers. Such simplistic responses are of ten perceived by agency staff as reticence on the part o f p r o g r a m part icipants to offer opinions about their experiences, and is of ten attr ibuted t o "cu l tura l dif ferences", i n some cases leading t o the conclusion that people f r o m some cul tural backgrounds are either less able or less w i l l i ng t o reflect on their experiences and t o prov ide feedback. Focus groups conducted in p r o g r a m part ic ipants ' first languages prov ide an oppor tun i ty to explore the relationship between part ic ipants' comfor t level and confidence w i t h the language used and part ic ipants' abil i ty to make a meaningful cont r ibut ion to the evaluative process. I n addit ion, these focus groups highUght the process o f language use w i th in a group context. Under Representation Of Minority Groups in Program Evaluation F e w studies specifically address the need to conduct research in languages other than Engl ish and there is l i t t le i n the l i terature to guide the evaluator i n w o r k i n g w i t h i n mul t icu l tura l organizations or w i t h group part icipants w h o speak languages other than Engl ish. Krueger (1994) suggests that as the nonprof i t sector reaches out to diverse audiences, sensitivity is 15 needed t o adapt focus groups t o bu i ld on the strengths o f the target audience. Th is need has not yet been w e l l addressed. M o r g a n (1993) states that wh i le the existing l i terature about focus groups concentrates on w o r k w i t h relat ively affluent people, there is also some discussion in the l i terature w h i c h alludes to the use o f focus groups w i t h "hard-to-reach" populat ions. However , l i t t le systematic attent ion has been given to these focus groups ( M o r g a n , 1993) . Wh i le i t may be recognized that a part icular strength o f the focus group methodology is that i t can be sensitive to diverse part icipants, l i t t le research using focus groups has been done w i t h part icipants w h o are no t wh i te and middle or upper class (Kreuger, 1994; M o r g a n , 1 9 9 3 ) . Mad ison (1992) points out that racial and ethnic minor i t ies as w e l l as the p o o r have of ten been omi t ted as stakeholder part ic ipants i n evaluation o f social service programs because o f the evaluat ion methods commonly used by researchers. Others agree that target beneficiaries are of ten the least l ike ly t o have their voices heard. Rossi and Freeman (1993) suggest that i n social programs the beneficiaries may be "unorganized, poo r l y educated, and reluctant to ident i fy themselves" (p .407) . L inco ln and Guba (1985) assert that "a l l stakeholder groups can expect to receive the oppor tun i ty t o prov ide input in to an evaluation that affects i t (s ic) . . .Anything else is patent ly unfair and d iscr iminatory" (p. 51) . I n a later w o r k L inco ln (1991) fur ther describes a v is ion o f research w h i c h addresses the ident i f ied absence o f var ious minor i t y groups: 16 Scientif ic inqui ry today includes commitments f irst, t o n e w and emergent relations w i t h respondents, second, t o a set o f stances-professional, personal, and p o l i t i c a l - t o w a r d the uses o f inqui ry and t o w a r d i ts abil i ty to foster act ion; and f inal ly, t o a v is ion o f research that enables and promotes social just ice, communi ty , diversity, civic discourse, and caring. L inco ln argues that any discussion o f standards o f research today necessarily signifies a radical shift i n the v is ion o f what research is, what i t is for , and w h o ought t o have access t o it. (p. 278) L inco ln (1991) places the onus o f responsibi l i ty on evaluators saying that most people w h o evaluate social programs k n o w very l i t t le about the minor i ty p r o g r a m part ic ipants ' w o r l d v i e w and "may even inst inct ively keep their distance" (p. 6) . Pr ieto (1992) echoes this v i e w and suggests that researchers may even be choosing not to w o r k towards overcoming this barrier in their w o r k . I n response t o the recogni t ion that evaluators may no t fu l l y understand the experiences o f those they are studying, L inco ln (1991) strongly urges evaluators to heed the fo l l ow ing advice: Rely on stakeholders w h o want to speak fo r themselves, t o part ic ipate in the radical social experiment o f g iv ing vo ice to those w h o cannot be heard, and to seeing those w h o have been invisible. . .Unt i l w e comprehend the l ives that w e do no t lead, w e w i l l never understand h o w t o assess what our programs are do ing f o r the persons w h o are l iv ing those l ives, and un t i l w e understand what they confront , w e w i l l never k n o w 17 h o w t o formulate humane and decent programs w h i c h direct ly address complex social problems, (p. 6) K k k m a n - L i f f and M o n d r a g o n (1991) state that the language o f the in terv iew is rarely i f ever considered by researchers. I n their rev iew o f 69 studies, they found that none o f the studies treated the language o f the in terv iew as a variable. I n their o w n study o f the heal th status o f Hispanics in the Southwest Un i ted States, the authors found str ik ing differences in the health o f those w h o were in terv iewed in Engl ish and those w h o were in terv iewed i n Spanish. Cross tabulations f o r nine health status variables and access to health care measurements revealed that Hispanics w h o were in terv iewed i n Spanish had lower health status and poorer access t o care than Hispanics w h o were interv iewed in Engl ish (K i r k rnan-L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991) . These results clearly ident i f ied language as a variable o f health and emphasized the importance o f conduct ing interv iews in Spanish to obtain in format ion about this part icular group o f uni l ingual Spanish speakers. The researchers in this study emphasized that the Hispanics interv iewed in Spanish w o u l d have been omi t ted from the usual research sample o f Engl ish speaking part ic ipants w i t h the resultant lack o f awareness o f the cr i t ical differences in health status between Engl ish speaking and exclusively Spanish speaking Hispanics. The authors o f this study argue that the refinement o f transl ingual and transcultural methodologies and the use o f translated instruments are cr i t ical t o research and that analysis o f the language o f in terv iew w i l l p romote understanding o f specific populat ions (K i r k rnan -L i f f & Mondragon , 1 9 9 1 ) . 18 Stansfield (1996) identif ies another example o f a situation where n o n Engl ish speakers were no t included i n the col lect ion o f research data. H e describes state-wide assessment programs in the Un i ted States w h i c h prov ide assessments o f al l students at several grade levels i n a var iety o f content areas. However , where students are Engl ish language learners, they are rout inely deferred from tak ing this test un t i l they become Engl ish prof ic ient or are seniors i n h igh school where the test is mandatory. Thus, these non Engl ish speaking students lose benefits such as feedback about their progress, appropriate remediat ion where necessary and can easily be over looked and fo rgo t ten by the education system. Stansfield (1996) suggests that the solut ion to this p rob lem is assessment o f students i n their nat ive languages. Whi le recognizing the dif f icult ies i n the accurate translat ion o f the tests, the author recommends translat ion o f the test in to students' native language and content assessment o f students' responses in the nat ive language. Such innovat ions in test ing w o u l d ensure that more comprehensive data were col lected on student achievement and that al l students w o u l d be included in assessments o f content knowledge. Another study w h i c h focused on schools in the Un i ted States identif ies the barriers to school involvement b y parents w h o do not speak Engl ish (Epstein, 1 9 8 6 ) . The authors o f this study conclude that schools w i l l need t o communicate w i t h parents i n their language o f prof ic iency and that publ icat ions and notices must be translated fo r parents to ensure f u l l understanding. A lso , interpreters must be available to help parents understand the in format ion and enable parents to communicate as an equal w i t h their chi ldren's teachers (Epstein, 1986) . These 19 efforts must be made t o prov ide the necessary supports in order fo r parents to fu l f i l l the basic obligations to support their chi ldren's schooling. Regarding the evaluat ion o f parent ing programs, Johnston et aL (1991) state that wh i le evaluations o f parent ing programs indicate that they are effective in p romo t ing posi t ive parent-chi ld interactions, most parent education programs have been developed and evaluated as applied t o mainstream Amer ican families or, occasionally, Canadian families. I n a rev iew o f the l i terature, these authors found l i t t le in format ion about programs fo r ethnocultural communit ies, and even less in format ion about their evaluation. T o obtain greater in format ion, the researchers distr ibuted a questionnaire to 100 agencies in Canada p rov id ing pr imary and tert iary care t o families. Through this process, they learned that whi le there were some parent ing programs fo r ethnocultural communit ies, no evaluations o f these programs were available. The authors o f this study strongly suggested fur ther research and evaluation o f the effectiveness o f parent ing programs fo r ethnocultural communit ies. They also suggest that w i t h the development o f programs fo r people o f diverse cul tural and l inguist ic backgrounds, there is a need to develop evaluation designs and methodologies to include populat ions w h o are of ten ignored due t o language and cul tural differences f r o m the p r o g r a m evaluator. 20 Using Focus Groups With "Special" Populations One study w h i c h direct ly addressed the effectiveness o f focus groups to obtain in format ion about di f f icul t - to-reach, h igh r isk families, conducted by Lengua et al. (1992) , implemented six focus groups w i t h 53 parents o f chi ldren in elementary school. One goa l o f the study was to determine the effectiveness o f focus groups in obtaining in format ion about recrui tment o f families f o r programs related to the prevent ion o f mental health problems and alcohol and substance abuse i n children. The study concluded that focus groups were an efficient and inexpensive method o f obtaining in format ion fo r recrui tment and retent ion o f families, part icular ly in fo rmat ion about unique needs and concerns o f specific neighbourhoods (Lengua et al., 1 9 9 2 ) . The researchers emphasized the effectiveness o f focus groups in enhancing the development and implementat ion o f connnuni ty based, fami ly focused interventions th rough addressing the needs o f popula t ion sub-groups such as l o w income families (Lengua et al., 1992) . For example, this study ident i f ied the need fo r the prov is ion o f chi ld care, t ransportat ion and a convenient locat ion part icular ly fo r single parents and l o w income parents. A l so , l o w income parents expressed a part icular need f o r social support from the p r o g r a m This study concluded that focus groups were an effective method to help ident i fy the specific beliefs and values o f a specific popula t ion and thus can prov ide hr format ion needed to improve or create programs fo r families. Whi le the study does no t ment ion the sub-group o f parents w h o d id no t speak Engl ish and were, therefore, excluded fo r the most part from bo th parent ing programs and from the focus groups used t o obtain in format ion about these programs, the study does suggest that focus groups are effective in obtaining in format ion that is useful f o r p r o g r a m planning decisions. The study highl ights the need to consult w i t h var ious subgroups regarding the effective implementat ion o f fami ly programs in their communit ies. The study also clearly invites fur ther research in to the use o f focus groups w i t h part icular subgroups w i t h the v i e w towards enhancing communi ty programs. Another study w h i c h addresses focus group use w i t h low- income minor i ty populat ions is one described by Rob in Jarrett ( 1 9 9 3 ) . Jarrett 's study describes the implementat ion o f t e n focus groups in a study o f 82 low- income, Af r ican-Amer ican w o m e n in the Un i ted States and concentrates specifically on the interact ional dynamics that characterize b o t h the recrui tment process and the group discussion i tse l f I n discussing the recrui tment process Jarrett asserts that wh i le generally part icipants are invi ted to part icipate in focus groups th rough a process invo lv ing random sampling, she instead d rew on personalistic strategies of ten associated w i t h more intensive quali tat ive methods because o f the nature o f the study and the characteristics o f the populat ion (Jarrett, 1 9 9 3 ) . The focus group discussion described by Jarrett was in formal and conversat ional but maintained a data gathering purpose th rough the use o f a top ica l outl ine w h i c h was f lexible enough to discuss issues in " the language o f the w o m e n " (Jarrett, 1993, p. 1 8 8 ) . Analysis o f 22 the discussion p rov ided insight in to the dynamics o f the group discussion, the establishment o f rapport , the presence o f ' jperforming," and the intensive examination o f part ic ipants ' v iewpoints. Jarrett says that fo r some w o m e n the focus group discussion had the ' f e e l o f a rap session." I n addi t ion, w i t h the presence o f others, an "audience ef fect" f requent ly occurred. That is, members per formed fo r each other and this per forming encouraged w o m e n i n the groups to discuss issues w i t h great licence (Jarrett, 1993) . Jarrett 's descript ion o f this performance aspect o f the focus group w i t h Af r ican-Amer ican w o m e n is one example wh ich il lustrates the need fo r fur ther study o f the impl icat ions o f language and culture i n focus group discussions. Whi le discussion o f the language used in focus groups is no t available i n the l i terature, use o f language is commonly discussed in ethnographic studies o f specific populat ions. One such study by Shirley Br ice Heath (1983) focuses specifically on the cul tural aspects o f language use and the role o f language in school "success." Heath 's w o r k includes extensive ethnographic descriptions o f language use in in formal gatherings o f people in the A f r i can- Amer ican w o r k i n g class communi ty o f T rack ton and the neighbour ing wh i te w o r k i n g class communi ty o f Roadvi l le. Heath documents the presence o f "per formance" as a salient aspect o f interact ion among the A f r i can Americans and the absence o f such performance in the wh i te community. A s we l l , Heath documents the var ious uses o f storytel l ing in bo th communit ies. One example ci ted is the use o f storytel l ing in the wh i te communi ty fo r purposes o f teaching moral i ty to chi ldren and the absence o f mora l i ty tales in the A f r i can-Amer ican communi ty . These examples o f use o f language, wh i le no t situated in a fo rma l focus group environment, 23 do i l lustrate the importance o f analysis o f language and culture in focus group discussions. Gladstone (1972) states: Language and culture are inexorably inter twined. Language is at once an outcome or a result o f the culture as a who le and also a vehicle b y wh ich the other facets o f the culture are shaped and communicated. (P. 192) Cr ick (1976) argues that language is no t only a means o f communicat ion but also a conceptual organization. Cr ick analyzes the field o f modern anthropology and discusses the impact o f l inguistics and anthropology on each other i n developing the idea that language determines percept ion and that language is a symbolic organizat ion w h i c h is unders tood in terms o f "mean ing" and no t i n solely structural terms. Others state that there is a relationship between language and social behaviour (Robinson, 1972) and that language reflects the culture o f the speaker and reveals different assumptions, beliefs and values concerning human and physical real i ty (Br is l in & Yosh ida , 1994; Munha l l & Oiler, 1986) . Cul tura l concepts such as or ientat ion t o w a r d space and t ime, social hierarchy, fami ly and personal relationships, indiv iduahsm versus col lect iv ism, w o r k and play are al l concepts expressed th rough language. Use of Language in Research Processes A s is evident i n the l i terature, the involvement o f language use in research and evaluation processes is no t f requent ly addressed by researchers. Instead, most research simply omits 24 language as a variable ( K i r k m a n - L i f f & Mondragon , 1991) . However , there is some research wh ich addresses the inclusion o f n o n Engl ish speakers in research samples and w o r k s towards the development o f processes t o address the part icular methodological issues that are inherent when w o r k i n g w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking populat ions. Robinson (1972) describes a number o f systems used to describe the funct ions o f language. Whi le Robinson describes these systems as inadequate to describe the funct ions o f language completely, he classifies the funct ions o f language as including but no t l imi ted to showing agreement, showing satisfaction, g iv ing suggestions, g iv ing opinions, asking fo r opinions and suggestions, disagreeing, asking fo r help and showing antagonism. M o h a n (1986) also outl ines a f ramework to address issues o f language and meaning and to describe the var ious structures o f language required fo r the var iety o f language funct ions. M o h a n describes the th ink ing processes involved in compar ing and group ing or classifying as w e l l as the cause and effect pr inciple w h i c h includes inferr ing, predict ing, fo rmula t ing hypotheses and generalizing about cause and effect relationships, and then identi f ies the language structures that are required fo r each o f these language funct ions. M o h a n il lustrates a process o f evaluation and suggests that the more elaborate language structures required fo r evaluating are generally learned later in the Engl ish language acquisi t ion process. Research o n language acquisit ion supports this no t ion o f sequences or stages i n the development o f certain structures and the differences between second language learners f r o m diverse cultures is less str ik ing than the similarities ( L i g h t b o w n & Spada, 1993) . For example, learners pass th rough similar stages in learning the negative elements, " h o " and " d o n ' t " , and i n learning question format ion. Br is l in & Yosh ida ( 1 9 9 4 ) , i n a discussion o f language teaching, observes that language learners w h o are no t confident o f either their language abil i ty or their cul tural knowledge tend to be quiet and spend their t ime simply observing. Br is l in & Yosh ida conclude that this strategy tends t o make the learner invisible to the host. I n addi t ion, "even w h e n a more advanced stage comes to dominate i n a learner 's speech, condit ions o f stress or complexi ty i n a communicat ive interact ion can cause the learner t o 's l ip ' back t o an earlier stage" ( L i g h t b o w n & Spada, 1993, p. 66) . P rogram part ic ipants w h o choose to part icipate in the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m conducted in languages other than Engl ish do so fo r a var iety o f reasons. Whi le some part icipants speak l i t t le Engl ish, others feel that the level o f Engl ish they understand or speak is no t adequate to discuss complex and personal issues. Others prefer to discuss parent ing in their first language w i t h those from their o w n culture regardless o f their part icular level o f Engl ish competency. Br is l in 's (1981) discussion o f studies o f the effects o f language f luency o n newcomers indicates that people w i thou t the abil i ty to speak the host country language l imi t the interact ion they have w i t h members o f the host country. These l imitat ions o f interact ion include l imi ted involvement o f n o n Engl ish speaking newcomers w i t h p r o g r a m planning and evaluation. For researchers interested in the opinions o f p r o g r a m part icipants, i t becomes imperat ive to address this l imi ted communicat ion pattern. Each o f the aspects o f evaluat ion is impor tant 26 including planning, data col lect ion, data analysis, and repor t ing, and each o f these processes becomes in te rwoven w i t h issues o f language, h o w people use words to mediate and construct reality, t ranslat ion and cul tural sensitivity. I t is important that part icipants express their ideas about the p r o g r a m th rough the language in wh ich they are most able t o part ic ipate in evaluative discourse. M o h a n and Schwab (1997) describe language as a "resource fo r meaning and cul tural par t ic ipa t ion" and recommend greater attention t o research in language learning and the role o f discourse in inst i tut ional change. I n an address to the Internat ional Conference on Mul t icu l turaUsm and M i n o r i t y Groups, they prov ide an example o f female Engl ish as a second language students w h o are placed i n h igh school physical education classes even though many female immigrants have negative attitudes about P.E. The authors suggest that the l imi ted abil i ty o f the students to express feelings and reasons fo r judgments i n Engl ish has restr icted their effectiveness in inf luencing school pol icy. Students may be perceived by school off icials as 'Vent ing feel ings" rather than ' 'making a case fo r change." T o enable students t o part icipate in the inst i tut ional change process, the authors recommend p rov id ing opportuni t ies fo r E S L students that w i l l elicit their att itudes and judgments about P.E. as w e l l as help t hem to ident i fy the advantages and disadvantages o f proposed solutions. Evaluat ive discourse may also be di f f icul t f o r f i rst language Engl ish speakers. M a r t i n (1992) provides an example o f a student 's wr i t ten response to a l i terary w o r k . The student uses words such as "a f ra id " and "en joyed" to express personal feelings evoked by the w o r k but 27 fails t o use the language o f l i terary judgments. Therefore, the examiner j u d g e d these personal reactions as an inadequate expression o f understanding o f the l i terary w o r k . The examples prov ided by M o h a n and Schwab (1997) and M a r t i n (1994) suggest the complex i ty o f evaluative discourse including the expression o f attitudes, personal feelings and judgments. T o address this complex i ty and to involve non-Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part ic ipants i n evaluative discourse, i t is important that part icipants be g iven opportuni t ies to express themselves in the language in wh ich they can communicate most effectively. The choice o f using focus groups in part ic ipants' first language as the methodo logy fo r the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program was based on the intent ion t o include non - Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants as stakeholders i n the evaluation process and to gather in format ion f r o m t h e m in their preferred language. There was no need t o determine the level o f Engl ish competency o f part icipants on any k ind o f language test or other measure. Whi le such measures o f Engl ish language competence are relevant to some situations, they are unl ikely to predict language readiness or the comfor t level o f individuals to part icipate in Engl ish in a structured conversation such as a focus group. 28 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY The Case Study Approach The study o f the u t i l i t y o f focus groups as an evaluation t o o l f o r non-Engl ish speaking stakeholders is impor tant because o f what may be learned about the suitabiUty o f focus groups fo r evaluation purposes w i t h this part icular populat ion. A descriptive case study approach was selected as the research methodo logy because the specif icity o f focus o f the case study makes i t an especially g o o d design f o r pract ical p r o b l e m s - f o r questions, situations o r occurrences arising from everyday pract ice (Mer r iam, 1988) . The case study is suitable fo r addressing a specific phenomenon where understanding is sought i n order t o improve evaluat ion practice (Mer r iam, 1988; Stake, 1995; Y i n , 1994) . M e r r i a m (1988) states that whi le the use o f a case study approach is no t n e w t o the field o f education there is l i t t le material w h i c h addresses the actual methodo logy o f case studies. Recent w o r k s b y Y i n (1994) and Stake (1995) have discussed the use o f the case study approach fo r evaluations such as the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram evaluation. Y i n (1994) discusses the use o f the descriptive case study in evaluation research t o describe or i l lustrate specific topics w i t h i n an evaluation context. W i t h i n this context, the case study approach fo r this thesis was used t o explore the u t i l i t y o f focus groups w i t h p r o g r a m part ic ipants w h o did no t speak Engl ish. This approach enabled the researcher to gain an in-depth understanding o f 29 the complexi ty o f in format ion available th rough the focus groups conducted i n part ic ipants' first language. Stake (1995) points out that the knowledge gained th rough case studies can be concrete and contextual and can contr ibute t o an understanding o f specific aspects o f programs being evaluated. I n the study o f the Nobody 's Perfect Program, the case study approach fo rmed the basis o f understanding the u t i l i t y o f focus groups in obtaining evaluative in format ion f r o m non-Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m participants. M e r r i a m (1988) suggests that descriptive case studies are useful i n presenting in format ion about areas o f educat ion where l i t t le research has been conducted, that innovat ive programs and practices are of ten the focus o f descriptive case studies in education and that such studies can f o r m a base f o r future comparison and theory bui ld ing. Y i n (1994) identif ies five different applications f o r case studies i n evaluat ion research. These include explaining causal l inks i n real-l i fe situations that are t o o complex fo r survey or experimental strategies, describing an intervent ion and the real-l i fe context i n w h i c h i t occurred, i l lustrat ing certain topics w i t h i n an evaluation f r o m a journal is t ic perspective, explor ing situations where the intervent ion being evaluated has no clear, single set o f outcomes, and a meta-evaluat ion-a study across evaluation studies. The case study undertaken f o r this thesis w o u l d most clearly fa l l i n the second category described b y Y i n , w h i c h is a descript ion o f an intervent ion. The intervent ion being described is the six focus groups that were conducted w i t h recent non-Engl ish speaking part ic ipants o f the Heal th Canada parent ing p rogram, N o b o d y ' s Perfect. This case study describes six focus groups, t w o 30 focus groups to involve program participants and to provide new and useful information for program planners and policy makers. The design of this case study involved implementing a logical sequence that would connect the data to the study's research question and to its conclusions (Yin, 1994) . The process involved a number of components which included developing the focus group questions, identifying and working with bi-lingual and bi-cultural focus group facilitators, inviting participants, conducting the focus groups, translating the focus group transcripts, analyzing the data and developing conclusions. Each of these aspects of the process is described in this and later chapters of the thesis. Developing the Focus Group Questions Focus group questions were initially developed by the researcher in English and then refined through a consultative process with the Evaluation Steering Committee from the agency sponsoring the program evaluation of the Nobody's Perfect Program As the implementation of the parenting program with non English speaking participants had not been included in previous program evaluations the committee hoped to learn about the experiences of non English speaking participants. Questions were intended to enable program planners and funders to obtain comprehensive information that was previously unknown. 31 The intent was t o develop a set o f questions that w o u l d encourage the discussion required to elicit in format ion about participants' experiences and reactions t o the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m Seven areas o f interest were explored: 1. W h y d id y o u choose to part icipate in N o b o d y ' s Perfect? 2. What d id y o u l ike about the program? 3. What d id y o u learn? 4. D i d the leader o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram seem more l ike a teacher or a faci l i tator? 5. D i d the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram seem appropriate t o your culture? 6. H o w were the N o b o d y ' s Perfect books useful t o y o u and what suggestions do y o u have fo r improvement? 7. W h a t ideas do y o u have fo r improv ing the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program? Focus group interv iews cannot be pre-tested i n the manner used b y ma i l out or telephone surveys where some people f r o m the intended audience are selected fo r a p i lo t test. For focus groups the process o f detennining appropriate questions must consider a range o f factors such as the in format ion required, the characteristics o f the part icipants and the interact ion between part icipants and the faci l i tator (Krueger, 1994, p. 68) . Accord ing ly , the focus group questions were rev iewed b y p r o g r a m staf f famil iar w i t h bo th the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and the evaluation goals. I t was acknowledged that the questions could no t be f ixed, as they w o u l d be in a convent ional survey fo r example, but , rather, w o u l d evolve dur ing the g roup process. I t was the responsibi l i ty o f the focus group faci l i tator t o encourage group process i n such a w a y 32 that part icipants w o u l d feel comfortable i n sharing their experiences and opinions about the program. Faci l i tators w o u l d begin w i t h the fixed set o f questions and w o u l d also be ready to alter the questions as required to elicit the desired in format ion f r o m the group. Focus Group Facilitators The importance o f the focus group faci l i tator i n the col lect ion o f data is paramount (Basch, 1987; Krueger , 1994; M o r g a n , 1993) . Focus groups prov ide an environment where open discussion is encouraged and nur tured, but i t is the faci l i tator w h o ensures a focused discussion (Krueger, 1994) . The data are the result o f the interact ion between and amongst the faci l i tator and group part icipants (Stewart & Shamdasani, 1 9 9 0 ) . M o s t o f the l i terature concerning focus groups and the col lect ion o f qualitative data suggests an advantage in having the researcher moderate the group direct ly (Mer r iam, 1988) . A f t e r all, the researcher is most famil iar w i t h the research top ic and w i t h the research questions. However , i n this case study, where focus groups were to be conducted in several different languages, i t was necessary that the Engl ish speaking researcher w o r k w i t h bi l ingual, b icul tura l faci l i tators from several language groups. The faci l i tators became key players i n the focus group process, strengthening the process b y addressing a var iety o f cul tural perspectives (Berr ien, 1967; Bornstein, TaL & Tamis -LeMonda, 1991 ; Slaughter, 1 9 9 1 ) . For the purpose o f the implementat ion o f the focus group discussion these individuals t o o k o n a "co-researcher f unc t i on " or acted as what Pomerleau, Ma lcu i t and Sabatier (1991) cal l "co- l inguist ic interviewers." 33 The l i terature addresses the contr ibut ions that can be made by researchers w o r k i n g together i n var ious roles. Anderson (1990) suggested that researchers f r o m diverse cultures should be invo lved to assist i n explaining the research t o part icipants, i n obtaining in fo rmed consent and i n interpret ing research results. Bornste in et al (1991) , ident i f ied benefits f r o m using "cul tura l nat ives" t o make observations. Krueger (1994) says that such persons may have skil ls, connections, energy, and ideas that can enhance the potent ia l o f the study. H e asserts that w h e n the faci l i tator is t rusted and the study is considered acceptable t o loca l part icipants, the focus group can be conducted in a var iety o f successful ways. For the focus groups implemented i n this evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program, bi l ingual, b icul tura l focus group faci l i tators p rov ided the mechanism b y wh ich the voices o f n o n Engl ish speaking focus group part ic ipants could be heard by the researcher. Successful selection o f focus group faci l i tators was largely the result o f the enthusiasm w i t h wh ich involvement o f n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants i n the evaluat ion was we lcomed b y agency staf f and p r o g r a m part icipants. Part icipants were pleased t o have the oppor tun i ty t o of fer their v iews o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram w h i c h had been popular w i th in their cu l tura l communit ies since 1989. B o t h agency staff and p r o g r a m part icipants we lcomed the chance to raise issues specific t o their part icular experiences w i t h N o b o d y ' s Perfect i n languages other than Engl ish. 34 Agency staff identified several individuals with the required language skills who also were respected within their cultural communities, understood the Nobody's Perfect Program, and possessed the necessary facilitation skills to act as focus group facilitators. Typically, candidates included individuals who were settlement workers or instructors at one of the agencies offering the Nobody's Perfect Program. It was necessary that focus group facilitators be credible individuals who were trusted by focus group participants. The importance of trust between the facilitator and group participants cannot be underestimated. Issues of crechbility and trust were carefully considered and consistently indicated as key components in the choice of individuals for the facilitator role. This notion of trust is discussed in the literature in the context of how researchers establish trust and the importance of personal relationships in gathering data in social research (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) . It also became evident that trust and relationship building were viewed in diverse ways in various cultural communities and while this diversity is an exciting area for future research, it was not the focus of this work. The individual experiences and circumstances of individuals chosen as facilitators varied. For example, the Spanish speaking facilitator was an individual who was working with groups in a number of settlement organizations in the city. She was familiar with the goals and content of the Nobody's Perfect Program through discussions with staff at those settlement agencies. She was described by program staff as someone who was known to, and trusted by, "the Spanish speaking community" through her various political and social connections. The Chinese speaking focus group facilitator had not worked in parenting programs but was experienced in the child care field and thus considered familiar with similar issues. She came 35 highly recommended from a variety o f sources for her knowledge, experience and facilitation skills. The Vietnamese and Punjabi speaking facilitators were chosen from among trained Nobody's Perfect facilitators as no other candidates could be identified. Facilitators who were familiar with parenting programs but not directly involved with Nobody's Perfect would have been preferred because there was a concern that focus group participants might not be as frank in their discussion i f the focus group facilitator was the same mdfvidual who had facilitated their own Nobody's Perfect group. To offset this, Vietnamese and Punjabi speaking focus group participants were selected from a number o f different Nobody's Perfect groups which had been conducted in those languages. However, there is no way to know what effect familiarity with the facilitator might have had on the data gathered from those particular groups. The researcher met with each facilitator to provide a general orientation to the philosophy and goals o f the Nobody's Perfect Program and to review the focus group questions. There was no attempt to train these individuals in group facilitation or group process as each o f the individuals had been chosen specifically for their identified skills in those areas. Rather, the researcher's intention was to ensure that each facilitator had sufficient understanding o f the Nobody's Perfect Program and o f the evaluation goals to guide the discussion as required. Additionally, the researcher and facilitators identified cross cultural issues related to the philosophy, content and materials of the Nobody's Perfect Program and the translation o f the focus group questions. 36 Cross Cultural Facilitation of Focus Groups The focus group question guide prepared by the researcher was reviewed by each of the group facilitators. Specific cultural issues related to the Nobody's Perfect Program were identified by each of the facilitators. For example, discussions with the Chinese speaking facilitator about the title of the program, "Nobody's Perfect," raised some significant cultural issues. The meaning of this term had long been a great source of discussion and learning for those interested in the cultural relevance of this parenting program to the Chinese community. Nobody's Perfect was chosen by Health Canada as the program title based on the principle that no one is a perfect parent, that parents need only try to be the best parent they can, and that no one should expect perfect children. This principle is contrary to a strong tenant of Chinese culture which does not have a verbal expression to indicate that it is desirable for an individual not to be perfect. Rather, the culture encourages people to strive for perfection and has a clearly articulated set of criteria which describe ideal parenting and ideal children. This discussion identified an area to be explored in the focus group discussions with Chinese speaking parents. The discussion between the researcher and the Spanish speaking facilitator focused on the relevance of the philosophy of the Nobody's Perfect Program to Latin American culture. In the Spanish speaking Nobody's Perfect groups, one of the issues which had often been raised was the role of the mother and the father in parenting and to what extent these roles changed with immigration to Canada. As a result, this community had frequently directed some N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups specifically to couples. Therefore, this research included t w o focus groups fo r Spanish speakers, one fo r parents f r o m "couples on ly " N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups and one fo r parents f r o m other " m i x e d " N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups. The planning process between the researcher and the Vietnamese faci l i tator also highHghted a cul tural issue. A l t h o u g h only one indiv idual had been selected fo r the faci l i tat ion ro le, when the researcher arr ived at the agreed u p o n meeting place, t w o w o m e n were present. One o f the w o m e n was the faci l i tator previously ident i f ied in the selection process and the other was a trained N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram faci l i tator and colleague o f the first woman . The t w o w o m e n explained that they intended t o co-facil i tate the focus group as they had done i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups. Wh i le co-faci l i tat ion o f focus groups had no t been in the research plan, there seemed no reason t o oppose the idea. Further consultat ion w i t h knowledgeable professionals p rov ided the cul tural context fo r this occurrence. Because w e had approached the faci l i tator w h o was somewhat less experienced than the other, she was obl iged t o invi te the other faci l i tator t o w o r k w i t h her. This act ion w o u l d maintain the "balance" between the t w o faci l i tators i n the eyes o f their communi ty and between the faci l i tators and the researcher. A f te r the discussions between the researcher and the focus group faci l i tators, the focus group questions were translated by each faci l i tator and a copy o f the translat ion g iven to the researcher. I t was the role o f the faci l i tator to facil i tate the group process in such a w a y that part icipants w o u l d be inv i ted and encouraged to share their responses t o the topics out l ined in 38 the focus group questions. The faci l i tator w o u l d ask the predetermined questions i n ways that w o u l d elicit the in format ion required fo r the research. One issue frequent ly discussed i n the l i terature pertaining to cross cul tura l research is the comparabi l i ty o f research instruments (Berr ien, 1967) and the equivalence o f measurement pr imar i ly related to the equivalence o f var ious types o f measures used in psychological tests (Adler , 1977; Bornste in et aL 1991 ; H u i & Triandis, 1983) . Wh i le these issues are clearly impor tant f o r quanti tat ive research methods, they are no t o f p r imary impor tance i n the analysis o f the quali tat ive data obtained from the focus groups i n this study. A s focus groups are discussions among groups o f people and as these discussions vary from group to group as w e l l as from culture to culture, the comparabi l i ty o f research instruments and the equivalence o f measurement are not central methodological issues. Rather, the translat ion process o f the focus group questions and the translat ion o f the data f o r the Engl ish speaking researcher are o f p r imary importance (Br is l in , 1976) . Focus Group Composition Former N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram part icipants were inv i ted to part ic ipate i n one o f six focus groups according to their preferred language. T w o focus groups invo lved Cantonese speaking parents w h o had part ic ipated in N o b o d y ' s Perfect i n Cantonese and t w o other focus groups involved Spanish speaking parents from N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups conducted in Spanish. A fifth focus group invo lved Punjabi speaking parents and the sixth focus group was conducted in Vietnamese. I t was decided t o ho ld t w o groups i n Chinese and Spanish because o f the higher enrol lment i n Nobody 's Perfect groups offered in these t w o languages as compared w i t h Punjabi or Vietnamese groups. The composi t ion o f focus groups is frequently discussed in the l i terature (Stewart & Shamdasani, 1990; M o r g a n , 1993; Krueger, 1994; M o r g a n , 1997; Vaughn , Schumm, & Sinagub, 1 9 9 6 ) . This discussion focuses pr imar i ly on the "strangers versus acquaintances" composi t ion and heterogeneous versus homogeneous composi t ion. Generally, the accepted guidelines favour groups composed o f "homogeneous strangers" and several authors offer suggestions as t o h o w to achieve this composi t ion. For example, i n a recent w o r k , M o r g a n (1997) discusses the recrui tment o f strangers and describes a process o f segmentation in w h i c h potent ia l part icipants are matched according to specific categories such as gender, age, o r race. H e suggests that such homogenei ty is sought to p romote free f l o w i n g conversat ion among people w h o feel comfortable w i t h one another. A t the same t ime, M o r g a n (1997) posits that the no t ion that focus groups must consist o f strangers is a myth . Instead, bo th M o r g a n (1997) and M o r g a n and Krueger (1993) argue fo r a k ind o f real ism where researchers must account fo r " real l i f e " situations in wh ich acquaintanceship in natural ly occurr ing groups is unavoidable and of ten beneficial t o the investigation. A l s o , bo th M o r g a n and Krueger acknowledge that there are many examples o f groups w h i c h seem to " w o r k " perfect ly w e l l w i t h mixed genders, or races, or other 40 characteristics. In an article describing focus groups which discussed doctor-caregiver relationships, Morgan (1992) argues for informed design choice rather than adherence to a specific set of rules for focus groups. Both authors assert that the important criterion to consider is whether people can comfortably discuss a topic in a way that is of interest to the researcher. For the focus groups discussed in this thesis, the primary considerations for participant selection were completion of the Nobody's Perfect Program delivered in the participants' first language and a willingness to be an active part of the focus group discussion. In this context researchers saw no need to gather further demographic information from participants and in fact, agency staff suggested that asking for such information would severely inhibit program participants from agreeing to participate in the study. Instead, researchers made an assumption of homogeneity among focus group participants based on the criteria outlined for participation in the Nobody's Perfect Program Participants in the Nobody's Perfect Program are parents of children from newborn to six years of age who need support in parenting their children because of conditions related to limited income and education, because they may be young or single parents and because they may be socially, geographically or culturally isolated. A significant commitment and considerable effort were required from the agency staff to ensure an effective recruitment process. This involvement in the recruitment of focus group participants and the organization of groups ensured that most participants who had been recruited did actually attend the focus group (Morgan, 1997) . Typically, informants 41 part icipate in qualitat ive f ie ld studies because o f their relationship w i t h the researcher, (Jarrett, 1993) however , individuals part ic ipated in this study because o f their relationship w i t h agency staff or the N o b o d y ' s Perfect group faci l i tator w h o invi ted t h e m to attend the focus group. Each potent ia l part ic ipant was contacted by agency staff or group faci l i tator on the telephone or i n person and inv i ted to be a part o f the focus group. A l l discussions regarding the purpose o f the group, expectations o f the part icipants and logist ic considerations were conducted in the indiv idual 's first language. These ini t ia l contacts b y agency staff and faci l i tators produced considerable interest i n part ic ipat ion in the focus groups result ing in 23 people attending the t w o Chinese language groups (12 in one group and 11 in the other g roup) , 8 attending the Punjabi language group, 22 attending the t w o Spanish language groups ( 1 1 i n each group) and 13 attending the Vietnamese language group. I n summary, 66 people attended the 6 t w o - hour focus groups. Permission To Participate I t is required that part icipants i n any research study sign a document agreeing t o part icipate and indicat ing that they understand the nature o f the study as w e l l as their r ights and responsibilit ies (Anderson, 1 9 9 0 ) . Focus group part icipants were inv i ted t o part icipate in an evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram (see Append ix ) . I n considerat ion o f the need fo r part icipants t o prov ide in formed wr i t ten consent, focus group faci l i tators p rov ided an oral w o r d - f o r - w o r d translat ion o f the Engl ish document prepared by the researcher and then answered questions f r o m part icipants as needed. A f te r this process, al l part ic ipants signed the 42 document, retained a copy and gave one copy to the researcher. Ideal ly, this document w o u l d have been translated in to each o f the part ic ipants' first language. However , budget impl icat ions prec luded such translation. Data produced in the context o f the p rog ram evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram included transcripts o f the six focus groups conducted w i t h non Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants (R i tch & M c L a r e n , 1994) . The researcher conducted a secondary analysis o f these transcripts t o study the u t i l i t y o f these focus groups t o produce n e w and usefu l in format ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers. A s Thorne (1994, ) suggests, "analyt ic expansion, i n w h i c h the researcher makes fur ther use o f his or her o w n or ig inal database to answer questions at the next level o f analysis or to ask n e w quest ions" (p. 266) is an appropriate rationale fo r the use o f secondary analysis o f quali tat ive data. Support For Parent Participation The researcher w o r k e d w i t h parents and agency staff t o determine the specific supports needed to enable t h e m t o part icipate in the focus groups. These supports included convenient locations and t ime o f day and concurrent on site chi ld care. The six focus groups were held in locations determined to be the most comfortable and accessible fo r part ic ipants and at t imes most convenient fo r parents o f young children. Past experience w i t h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram indicated that many part icipants were reluctant t o t ravel outside o f their o w n 43 neighbourhoods. Of ten people w h o rel ied on publ ic t ransportat ion d id not have the required bus fare and so fo r al l six focus groups, bus fare was prov ided as needed. Caregivers f o r part ic ipants ' chi ldren were h i red from the available l ist o f chi ldminders w h o had p rov ided care to chi ldren at N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups. This meant that the parents and children were famil iar w i t h the caregivers and parents felt assured that their chi ldren were w e l l cared fo r dur ing the focus group session. I n all cases, at least one o f the cMchninders spoke the language o f the parents. This was crucial t o facil i tate the smooth t ransi t ion o f parents leaving their chi ldren to part icipate in the focus groups and t o ensure the comfor t o f the chi ldren i n the chi ld care setting. Participants were offered an honorar ia o f $25.00 as one w a y o f expressing the value placed by the researcher and the sponsoring agencies on part ic ipants' t ime. These honorar ia were distr ibuted at the complet ion o f each focus group session. Conducting the Focus Groups The focus group faci l i tators were responsible fo r p romot ing the group discussion necessary to respond to the topics out l ined in the focus group questions. The ro le o f the researcher dur ing the focus group was pr imar i ly t o operate the tape recorder and to prov ide other assistance to the faci l i tator. A t the beginning o f each o f the six focus groups, the researcher was in t roduced to the group as the indiv idual w h o was responsible fo r the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect 44 Program. D u r i n g the focus group process, the researcher observed the g roup bu t n o attempt was made to document the process itself. A t the conclusion o f each focus group, the researcher and the faci l i tator discussed the group process in relat ion t o h o w w e l l the focus group questions had elicited evaluative comments f r o m participants. Recording, Transcription and Translation Of Focus Group Data Each focus g roup was audio taped using a tape recorder and a P Z M mul t i -d i rect ional microphone specifically designed fo r use i n focus groups. This equipment p roduced a clearly audible tape o f the focus group discussion. Wr i t t en transcripts o f the audio tape were prepared by the focus group faci l i tators, all o f w h o m had previous experience prepar ing transcripts. These transcripts were translated in to Engl ish by experienced b icu l tura l translators w i t h knowledge o f the area o f parenting and fami ly issues (Casagrande, 1954; Slaughter, 1991). The process fo r the translat ion o f the focus group transcripts was a crucial ly important aspect o f this evaluation because the analysis o f part ic ipants ' responses was based on the Engl ish translat ion o f the transcripts prepared f r o m the audio taped focus group sessions. Whi le Krueger (1994) identif ies that transcript-based analysis o f focus groups is extraordinari ly s low and cumbersome, the element o f t ranslat ion o f data f r o m one language t o another necessitated a reliance on accurate transcripts. A lso , as the discussion i n focus groups depends heavi ly on the faci l i tator and since there is some uncertainty i n the f ie ld as to 4 5 standards w h i c h should apply to interpretat ion o f qualitative data, i t is important t o record the group and to prepare transcripts that can be analyzed and reanalyzed (Basch, 1987) . One o f the pr imary issues related t o conduct ing focus groups in languages other than Engl ish is the requirement fo r accurate translations o f focus group discussions. Br is l in (1976) , whose w o r k has been i n the area o f the use o f translat ion as a research t o o l i n cross-cul tural studies, defines translat ion as: The general t e r m referr ing to the transfer o f thoughts and ideas f r o m one language to another language whether the languages are in wr i t t en or ora l f o r m ; whether the languages have established orthographies or do not have such standardizat ion; or whether one or bo th languages are based on signs, as w i t h sign languages o f the deaf. (P-1) One technique of ten described as effective towards ensuring accurate translat ion is a technique called "back translat ion". This technique involves t w o bi l ingual ind iv idua ls -one w h o translates f r o m the source t o the target language and the other w h o translates f r o m the target language back to the source language (Br is l in , 1 9 7 0 ) . The authors suggest the fo l l ow ing process fo r back translation: the investigator prepares the in terv iew schedule and t w o translators w o r k on i t , each translating ha l f into the target language. Then each takes the other 's w o r k and translates i t back to English. The researcher then has t w o versions o f the Engl ish text and th rough them a t r iangulat ion on to the target language. This process highUghts any discrepancies in the translation. Regarding back translat ion, Werner and 46 Campbel l (1970) suggest that this technique is very useful w h e n the researcher is in terv iewing th rough an interpreter and w h e n the researcher k n o w s l i t t le o f the target language. The researcher is i n a "helpless" si tuation and the use o f back translat ion offers some degree o f discipline. Others suggest that wh i le back translat ion usually uncovers considerable diff icult ies i n the translated material, researchers should v i e w this as the strength o f the techn ique- i t confronts the researcher w i t h the diff icult ies o f researching i n contexts where the researcher is no t famil iar w i t h the target language (Sinaiko & Br is l in , 1973; Werner & Campbell , 1970) . Back translat ion is also suggested as a method by w h i c h the researcher may assess the competency o f the translators (Werner & Campbell , 1970) . Other techniques described fo r translat ion include the use o f bi l ingual individuals, pretest ing t o complement back translat ion and the use o f numerous translators to arrive at the best possible translat ion (Erv in & B o w e r , 1953; Prince & M o m b o u r , 1967) . I n these processes, i f there is consensus or a h igh level o f agreement on a single version, one might assume that i t is an accurate translation. "Consensus is, after all, the ul t imate arbiter o f l inguist ic usage" (Casagrande, 1954, p. 3 3 9 ) . The researcher w o r k e d w i t h communi ty agencies t o ident i fy translators in each o f the focus group languages w i t h translat ion experience in the content area o f fami ly issues. Wh i le the researcher recognized the strengths o f back translation, and whi le this technique w o u l d have made a cont r ibut ion to the accuracy o f the translations, back translat ion was no t conducted pr imar i ly due to i ts cost implications. Translat ion by more than one translator was also considered but no t used because o f budgetary restrictions. 47 B o t h the inherent complexit ies o f language wh ich describes diverse parent ing approaches and practices and the number o f languages being translated in to Engl ish were significant factors in the selection o f a translat ion process fo r the focus groups described i n this study. Communi ty groups invo lved in the translat ion o f pr in t materials related to issues o f fami ly, chi ld development and chi ld care have ident i f ied that translators' fami l iar i ty w i t h part icular concepts and terms used i n these content areas is as important as accuracy o f the language. This knowledge and understanding is k n o w n to contr ibute t o greater accuracy and more meaningful translations. This was the pr imary consideration in the selection o f a translat ion process fo r focus group transcripts. Where transcripts contained sentences w h i c h were no t grammatical i n Engl ish, these were brought in to standard Engl ish f o r clar i ty and easy reading. There seemed n o advantage t o using f lawed Engl ish w h i c h resulted from a l imi ta t ion o f the translat ion and no t a l imi ta t ion o f the focus group participants. 48 C H A P T E R F O U R A N A L Y S I S O F F O C U S G R O U P S Understanding Participants' Response to the Nobody's Perfect Program The preferred approach fo r the analysis o f data obtained th rough a case study is t o interpret the f indings i n l ight o f the theory w h i c h led t o the case study ( Y i n , 1994; M e r r i a m , 1988) . One is encouraged t o consider the or ig inal objectives and research questions u p o n wh ich the case study was designed ( Y i n , 1994) . For the purpose o f the research described in this thesis i t was established that the l i terature described focus groups as an effective t o o l t o involve part icipants as stakeholders and to obtain considerable in format ion f r o m focus group part icipants regarding their experience. I t was also established that wh i le the l i terature encouraged researchers to use focus groups w i t h "specia l " populat ions, this method had no t been used w i t h n o n Engl ish speakers. The analysis o f the focus groups w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants implemented fo r this study examined the extent t o w h i c h the discussion produced in format ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers w h i c h was no t previously k n o w n and w h i c h was useful f o r p r o g r a m evaluation. Focus group transcripts translated in to Engl ish were analyzed using a descriptive approach f o r organizing results based on the set o f focus group questions used in each o f the focus groups ( Y i n , 1994) . The p r imary purpose o f th is approach was t o organize the responses o f the part icipants to the structured set o f questions. Then, an analysis g r id was developed to 49 systematically code the focus group part ic ipants' responses to each o f the focus group questions (KnodeL 1 9 9 3 ) . T w o categories were developed t o enable the researcher to determine the substantiveness o f part ic ipants' responses to the questions. These categories served as an heurist ic device t o analyze and describe the complex i ty o f responses f r o m focus group part icipants and to ' i l luminate the reader's understanding o f the phenomenon under s tudy" (Mer r i am, 1988, p. 1 3 ) . Transcripts were rev iewed and each statement coded as either category one, "s imple responses" or category t w o , "elaborate responses." Simple responses were those where the responses p rov ided basic in format ion w i t h l i t t le o r no detail. Elaborate responses were those where part icipants p rov ided enhanced descriptions, specific details or complex explanations. For the purposes o f this thesis, no attempt was made to systematically analyze either similarities or differences between the var ious focus groups or language groups. M o r g a n (1997) suggests that w h e n a study design involves several groups wh ich are h igh ly segmented i n their composi t ion, the analysis process of ten invites the researcher t o make comparisons between the var ious groups. K n o d e l (1993) suggests, however , that i n spite o f this inv i tat ion, researchers are advised to concentrate on drawing conclusions based on similarit ies rather than those based o n differences. H e suggests that when similar v iews are expressed b y var ious groups, i t is l ike ly that these represent shared v iews and i t may be di f f icul t t o dist inguish differences among groups that may not be attributable to factors such as the w a y the group was faci l i tated, part icular group dynamics or personalit ies o f the ind iv idual part icipants. I n spite o f th is caut ion, analysis o f the focus groups done fo r this thesis indicates that there are 50 certain cul tural factors w h i c h may influence the implementat ion and results o f focus groups and fiuther research in this area is strongly advised. A s could be expected in any focus group, there were bo th simple and elaborate responses to each question. However , the vast major i ty o f responses in these focus groups p rov ided impor tant and relevant in format ion that was previously u n k n o w n t o p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers. These responses prov ided much insight in to the att i tudes, percept ions and opinions o f part icipants (Krueger, 1994) and permi t ted the study o f selected issues in depth and detai l (Pat ton, 1 9 9 0 ) . This research conf i rmed anecdotal reports f r o m those w o r k i n g in programs w i t h l imi ted Engl ish speaking part icipants that wh i le part icipants w i l l of ten sit silently dur ing discussions conducted i n Engl ish, these same individuals w i l l enthusiastically offer extensive feedback w h e n they have opportuni t ies to discuss their experiences using their first language. The f indings regarding the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram that resulted f r o m analysis o f the focus groups discussions i n languages other than Engl ish substantiate the u t i l i t y o f focus groups fo r purposes o f p r o g r a m evaluation. None o f the individuals part ic ipat ing i n these focus groups w o u l d have been able to prov ide such in-depfh ir i forrnation in Engl ish. I n addi t ion, the focus group process suggests that the secure setting o f group discussion mvorv ing part ic ipants w h o were famil iar w i t h one another contr ibuted to the uncover ing o f impor tant in fo rmat ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers. The remainder o f this chapter describes the extent to 51 w h i c h part icipants p rov ided substantive responses t o focus group questions and suggests ways that the discussion process i tse l f contr ibutes to part icpants' responses. Why Did You Choose To Participate In Nobody's Perfect? W h e n focus group part icipants were asked to discuss w h y they had chosen to part icipate in the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program, they offered a var iety o f explanations. O f the 49 separate responses to this question 14 were coded as category one whi le 35 responses were considered "e laborate" and coded as category t w o . Elaborate responses f r o m Engl ish as a Second Language parents are rare when feedback is inv i ted i n Engl ish, however , when given opportuni t ies t o express opinions i n their first language, these parents p rov ided valuable in format ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers as to their reasons f o r part ic ipat ing i n the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m I n category one responses, parents br ief ly described their reasons fo r attending the p r o g r a m Typical ly these parents repor ted that they attended because they wanted to learn more about parent ing and the p r o g r a m was available i n their first language. A s basic as these responses are, i t is l ike ly that they prov ided more in format ion than these parents could have prov ided i n English. This conf i rmed fo r planners and po l icy makers the importance o f p rov id ing programs in parents' first languages. The fo l l ow ing are typical o f category one responses to this question: 52 Since my kids were at the right age I attended this group for my personal benefit and for the benefit of my children. I wanted to learn how to treat my children in a different way. I would like to know how to educate my children and how to prevent them from danger. Staff at the Neighbourhood House told me they were doing a parenting group in Punjabi so I came. Typica l category t w o responses contrast sharply w i t h the previous examples i n terms o f the complexi ty o f the ideas expressed and the richness o f in format ion given. These responses describe parents ' awareness o f the need to understand Canadian culture t o better understand the cul tural influences faced b y their children. Program planners and po l i cy makers were prov ided w i t h in format ion w h i c h indicated the concern parents had fo r the successful integrat ion o f their fami ly in to Canadian culture. Previously, some p r o g r a m planners had suggested that parents d id no t wan t t o be inf luenced b y Western parent ing practices and that distinct parent ing programs f o r diverse cul tural groups needed t o be developed. A s each parent in the focus groups discussed their concerns, others fo l l owed w i t h similarly elaborate descriptions o f their o w n concerns. The fo l low ing provides examples o f the richness o f the discussion related t o th is topic: 5 3 We are in a new culture with different patterns and values. We wanted to understand how our children were going to be and to try to understand them better in their new world. We wanted to learn how to deal with the new ways because we are aware that the outside is going to have a major influence in our children's life. Now I am living in Canada, and I have two children who will grow up in the Canadian culture; therefore, I would like to learn this program in order to educate my children. The reasons which encourage me to attend this program are: I want to learn more about how to educate children in the Western culture; I also want to compare the differences between the Western and Oriental education for young children. We are in a new culture with different patterns and values. We want to understand how our children are going to be in their new world. We wanted to learn how to deal with the new ways because we are aware that the outside is going to have a major influence in our children's life. No matter if you are a new or old immigrant to Canada, our upbringing and backgrounds are different from the Western culture. We hope to be able to know how 54 to raise our children in the Western culture and how to communicate better with them. The old Chinese method of child rearing may not be completely suitable for today's needs. Some ideas are not applicable anymore. This motivated me to come to Nobody's Perfect. We are always interested in knowing about our children's development. When we arrived we did not know how to guide our children in this new environment. We didn't know what Nobody's Perfect was all about but while doing it we liked it a lot. We would have like to have gotten deeper into some topics but there was not enough time. These parents' complex statements helped p r o g r a m planners and po l i cy makers t o understand more fu l ly the mot ivat ions and personal goals o f p r o g r a m participants. A l t h o u g h , as in the first group, the pr imary mot iva t ion expressed was a desire to learn about parent ing, these respondents expanded upon this basic idea t o offer reflections o f their part icular challenges related to parent ing in western culture. These parents ident i f ied an intense desire t o guide their chi ldren appropriately i n a culture wh ich they themselves d id no t fu l ly understand. This was n e w in format ion f o r p r o g r a m planners w h o previously had been unaware o f the degree to wh ich immigrant parents felt i t important to learn "new w a y s " i n order t o feel successful i n parent ing i n a n e w environment. This expanded understanding o f the settlement process led t o the decision no t t o proceed to develop other parent ing programs f o r newcomer parents. 55 Rather, p r o g r a m planners understood the need t o p romote discussion related t o parent ing i n a " n e w " culture w i t h i n the current structure o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m The expression o f the complex i ty o f the settlement process and the extensive in format ion p rov ided th rough the focus groups was possible because the discussion was in parents' first language and invo lved a discussion process in wh ich parents felt comfortable to discuss their struggles in the n e w culture. What Did You Like About The Nobody's Perfect Program? There were a to ta l o f 36 responses f r o m parents to this question. Near ly 9 0 % o f these were category t w o elaborate responses. I n all o f the focus groups, th is quest ion seemed t o p rompt parents to discuss benefits they had derived from the p r o g r a m and to some extent the structural elements o f the p r o g r a m i tsel f including the prov is ion o f on-site chi ld care, p r o g r a m books fo r each part ic ipant and ident i f icat ion b y parents o f favour i te topics o f discussion. For the most part , however , parents' comments addressed the benefits der ived from the p r o g r a m as w e l l as specific in format ion parents had learned in the p r o g r a m that improved their parenting. Discussion vvithin the context o f each o f the focus groups produced in fo rmat ion about a range o f topics. I n one group most o f the part icipants expressed a personal react ion to the p r o g r a m facil i tator. W h e n one part icipant expressed a dislike fo r the faci l i tat ion style o f the mdfviduaL each o f the other part icipants expressed a personal react ion t o the faci l i tator, some posi t ive and some negative. A s we l l , in response to the question regarding what they l i ked about the p rogram, each o f the part icipants commented on aspects o f the p r o g r a m such as the sharing o f in format ion among part icipants and the reduced sense o f isolat ion as a family. I n another group, w h e n one indiv idual ment ioned l ik ing the visi t from the Public Heal th Nurse and the discussion about chi ldren's health, there fo l l owed a discussion in the focus group about the posit ive and negative aspects o f inv i t ing "professionals" to meet w i t h parents as part o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m This discussion became related t o the role o f the faci l i tator in the p rog ram w h i c h was actually a later planned question in the focus group process. Because parents were comfortable i n their spoken language, the discussion cou ld develop natural ly w i t h part ic ipants responding bo th t o the questions asked b y the faci l i tator and t o comments made by focus group participants. I n another group the first respondent ment ioned the helpfu l sharing o f in fo rmat ion among first-time mothers. Subsequently, each o f the other part icipants addressed the aspect o f sharing in format ion among group members. I n this group a simple statement made by one part icipant regarding shared in format ion was fo l l owed b y six elaborate descriptions o f the same aspect o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m The fo l l ow ing comments from parents are examples o f elaborate statements wh ich indicated that the p r o g r a m was indeed successful i n p romot ing the development o f such support networks: 57 Staying home all the time taking care of our children is tiring and stressful and makes us grumpy. Coming to Nobody's Perfect we can share our ups and downs with each other. Having a group to lean on we become more happy and not so grumpy. We are quite lonely in Canada with few relatives andfriends around. Even if we have friends they are busy with jobs, house-work andfamily. We seldom get in touch with them. Coming to Nobody's Perfect, we can actively share, get support, and release our stresses. We are happier after joining the group. Before I joined the group, I was very quiet, very private and not used to sharing. Now I have learned to open up myself and to share my feelings with others. My husband said that I have become a new person. It is very important that the couple can do the program together, because there are a lot ofprograms offeredfor women but not for men. We met new people and created goodfriendships. I liked the Nobody's Perfect Program because I learned to educate my children and prevent them from danger at home or school. I liked everything in this program because I could share my concerns about my children. Also, I liked the group. We shared experiences when we got together and the group encouraged me to make decisions. I feel more relaxed. 58 These discussions in parents' f i rst languages al lowed p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers to gain insights in to aspects o f the p rog ram wh ich were most appreciated b y p r o g r a m participants. M o r e important ly , they also obtained detailed descriptions o f the benefits derived f r o m the group dynamics and f r o m sharing experiences w i t h other parents. Discussions were characterized by the ' bu i l d ing ' ' o f the conversation w h i c h is a hal lmark o f focus group discussions (Krueger , 1994; M o r g a n , 1993; M o r g a n , 1 9 9 7 ) . W i t h i n the context o f the focus group part ic ipants seemed to be honest about the stresses they had been experiencing vvithin their famil ies and the contr ibut ion the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram had made t o their wel l -being. They noted the sense o f isolat ion w i th in their families and their communit ies and indicated that part ic ipat ion in the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram had helped reduce some o f that isolat ion. P rogram planners learned the extent t o wh ich the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram was achieving i ts goal o f buttding self-help and mutua l support ne tworks among non Engl ish speaking participants. What Did You Learn From The Nobody's Perfect Program? Responses t o th is question enabled p r o g r a m planners to understand more about what parents learned th rough part ic ipat ion in the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m The 32 responses t o this question p rov ided in format ion about pract ical , knowledge based learning related t o chi ld safety, chi ld development and discipline. Because o f the concrete nature o f th is question, i t is no t surprising that the p ropor t i on o f simple and elaborate responses was fa i r ly even w i t h 59 category t w o responses accounting fo r slightly more that 5 0 % o f the to ta l number o f responses. The focus groups w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking parents p rov ided considerable in format ion about h o w p r o g r a m in format ion was used and what outcomes were realized from the p r o g r a m I n bo th category one and category t w o responses parents described in some detai l actual situations where they had applied the knowledge they gained from the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m I n most cases situations described invo lved incidents that compromised health or safety where parents were able to intervene result ing in a posi t ive outcome fo r the child. However , elaborate responses extended this type o f descript ion t o include expressions o f parents' g r o w i n g confidence in themselves as competent parents that stemmed from their abil i ty to respond t o their chi ldren's needs. These elaborate responses contained insight ful descriptions o f parents ' understanding o f their o w n chi ldren's needs as w e l l as some discussion o f h o w parents learned t o meet those needs more effectively. A s we l l , the complexi ty o f the focus group discussions al lowed the l ink between parental confidence and knowledge about safety and chi ld development to be made clear. In fo rmat ion about the extent to wh ich parents' sense o f confidence had increased th rough greater knowledge o f chi ld development and safety demonstrated the importance o f p rov id ing in format ion t o parents. Overal l , i n the secure environment o f a group o f parents w i t h similar experiences, parents were able to express their diff icult ies and describe h o w the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram had helped them be more competent and confident parents. The fo l l ow ing 60 comments show examples of situations where newly acquired knowledge had a direct effect on both the child's well-being and the parents' self-esteem: My son complained of severe pain in his arm one time. I didn't know what the problem was. I wondered if it was a fracture. I remembered the first aid that I learned from Nobody's Perfect. I then used some cloth to tie around his arm and gave it support before taking him to hospital. It felt good to know what to do for him. I learned child safety along with taking care of them and loving them no matter what they do. And that we should be more understanding of them because they are just kids. When we talked about health and age development I started observing my child carefully. I realize that something was wrong with his ear. With the information I had I went to the doctor with my child. I was right and because it was early enough, my child is doing great. Through this program I can understand the emotions of my children, their ups and their downs. They are just like us adults, and they also need to release their stresses. 61 I learned that they have needs and that I should fulfill those needs to make them feel that there is support for them. I am a new immigrant. I don't have many friends or relatives around me. My daughter cried a lot, and I didn't know what to do to take care of her. For a while, I was so frustrated and bored with staying home taking care of a crying baby, that I wanted to quit. But the group gave me a lot of help and support and I can go on. Sharing experiences with other mothers I realized I was not a bad mother after all. Parents also no ted that the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m h a d i n f l u e n c e d the i r approach to d isc ip l ine and g u i d i n g the i r ch i l d ren ' s behaviour . I n thei r f i rs t language parents were able to re f lect o n th is comp lex aspect o f parent ing and e loquent ly express changes i n the i r att i tudes and the i r act ions. M o s t parents i den t i f i ed an approach to d isc ip l ine w h i c h i nc luded corpora l pun ishmen t as an in tegra l part o f thei r cu l tu ra l background . Some parents emphas ized a n abrupt change i n the i r approach that resul ted f r o m the p r o g r a m w h i l e other parents ' commen ts descr ibed a gradual t rans i t ion f r o m a t rad i t iona l approach that u t i l i z e d corpora l pun ishmen t to a m o r e " W e s t e r n " approach character ized b y ve rba l gu idance techniques. M o s t o f the comments seemed to ind icate agreement w i t h the n o t i o n that " W e s t e r n " d isc ip l ine was preferable. T h e f o l l o w i n g are examples o f the statements m a d e b y m a n y parents: 62 I learned to discipline my kids the way that we both can benefit and not just me yelling at them and they not knowing what they did wrong. You should teach them right and wrong things as you go along and not expect them to do the right things all the time. Sometimes we had unhappy times between wife and husband or parents and our children annoyed or disturbed me. I wanted to spank them but I realized what I have learned in the program and I stopped doing it. It is an excellent program. I learned to use reward and consequence systems on my children to encourage them to do good and to develop virtuous characters. I now stop and think over the whole matter when I am about to apply physical punishment on my son. I don't force him to do things my way anymore. Westerners are more concerned about manners and showing respect to their children. That is what we should learn from them. Did The Leader Of The Nobody's Perfect Program Seem More Like A Teacher Or A Facilitator? This focus group question related to the learner-centred mode l u p o n w h i c h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rog ram is based. A basic pr inciple o f this mode l is that parents want t o learn more 63 about parent ing and can learn parent ing and bui ld a support n e t w o r k th rough part ic ipat ion in a group learning experience. The p r o g r a m l i terature describes this mode l as one w h i c h values the part ic ipat ion o f al l parents, where there is no expert or teacher and where the knowledge about parent ing is shared th rough group discussion. The theory behind this approach stems f r o m the emphasis on a health p romo t ion approach w h i c h attempts t o shift responsibi l i ty fo r health from the "exper t " t o the "consumer. " The Nobody's Perfect Leaders' Guide l ists six guidelines fo r the implementat ion o f the learner centred approach: • Invo lve the parents i n deciding what they want to learn in the p r o g r a m and h o w they want to learn it. • Create a friendly, safe, and n o n judgmenta l atmosphere. • Encourage discussion. • Create learning activit ies wh ich enable parents to understand their situations and solve some o f their o w n problems. • B e prepared to change your session p lan t o suit the needs and interests o f parents. • Encourage self-help and mutua l support. Because o f the central i ty o f this mode l to the p rog ram design i t was impor tant fo r p rog ram planners t o learn about the degree t o w h i c h var ious groups adhered t o th is mode l and the perceived effectiveness o f this approach by n o n Engl ish speaking parents from a var iety o f cultures. Pr io r to this research, p r o g r a m planners had speculated that parents w i t h o u t a Western educational background w o u l d not accept a learning mode l that was no t based o n the central leadership role o f a teacher or an expert. I t was argued that these group part icipants 64 would expect to have an "expert" teaching them the "right way" to parent and without this approach parents would not feel they had learned anything. This notion was shown to be incorrect as parents in these focus groups expressed strongly positive views on the effectiveness of the learner-centred program model. Focus group participants were asked to reflect on the effect of the program structure on their experiences in the program and to consider whether their Nobody's Perfect group had been 'facilitated" or "taught." Parents' descriptions of the group sessions indicated that delivery of Nobody's Perfect adhered very closely to the program guidelines. Of the responses to this question, 85% were elaborate and described the atmosphere of Nobody's Perfect as a program where parents learned and shared with other parents and with the facilitator. Many parents were able to identify the specific aspects of the model that they appreciated: I liked the fact that in the first session we lay down the ground rules of what was acceptable behaviour. We had a framework that we were working from so we understood andfelt comfortable. We had a lot of chances to input to Nobody's Perfect and to address the issues we wanted to talk about. She explained what was happening. We were talking all the time and she listened. She never said you should. 65 I liked it because she was also a mother and she had a struggle coming here and starting over and raising a family. And I liked it that she shared that with us... She could give us some insight. This group sharing format gave us opportunities to learn from the book, our facilitator, and gain support from other members. What I liked the best about this program was that when we came here we all had a lot on our minds including the stresses of our home lives and when I came to the group I felt a sense of relief and support and there was no pressure here. And everyone was very understanding and supportive of everyone's feelings. We all talked openly about our problems and we discussed our kids openly and how we all differed in child rearing. Our ideas were shared with everyone and we all learned from all of the other parents. We were all very friendly with each other it was a very amicable, learning atmosphere. Some parents ' comments created an understanding o f a developmental process where, over t ime, parents became increasingly comfortable w i t h the learner centred approach. For example, w h e n part icipants ref lected on their experiences w i t h the learner centred approach, their comments were h igh ly descriptive and enthusiastic t o w a r d the m o d e l but no ted that i t t o o k some t ime t o adapt t o i t : 66 At first I didn't want to talk about my child not behaving but after a while I talked about it and everyone helped me. It did take some time before we could feel comfortable to open ourselves up in sharing. Our facilitator did a great job in encouraging us to share our experiences freely. It is not too difficult to share our problems regarding our children. It took time to begin sharing husband and wife conflicts and in-law conflicts. We may be afraid of losing face. I n most cases the discussion wh ich fo l l owed this question was a though t fu l ref lect ion o f each indiv idual 's experience w i t h the group process itself. Overohe lming ly , parents were able t o ident i fy the faci l i tat ion techniques used by the faci l i tator t o encourage sharing among part icipants and they were very posi t ive about the outcomes o f this process. A t the same t ime, some parents expressed a desire fo r the p r o g r a m t o invi te special speakers w h o are "exper ts" on specific parent ing topics. The abil i ty o f the focus group discussion t o uncover bo th aspects o f parents' reactions is indicat ion o f the usefulness o f focus groups i n learning about complex issues such as a part icular mode l o f p r o g r a m implementat ion. 67 Did The Nobody's Perfect Program Seem Appropriate To Your Culture? Since 1989 w h e n N o b o d y ' s Perfect had f irst been used in Vancouver , the implementat ion o f the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m i n languages other than Engl ish had been controversial. Some o f the cr i t ic ism o f other-than-EngUsh implementat ion was probably related t o a general reluctance t o p rov ide services in languages other than Engl ish (and perhaps French) based on the v i e w that immigrants should learn English. However , publ ic discussion o f this issue centred around questions o f the "cu l tura l appropriateness" o f the p r o g r a m and whether the p r o g r a m wh ich had been developed fo r a certain "target g r o u p " could address the needs o f parents f r o m diverse cul tural backgrounds, especially those parents w i t h l imi ted Engl ish speaking ability. Some argued that the p r o g r a m content included in the f ive parent books did no t address the specific parent ing experiences o f newcomer parents. Others had said that the p r o g r a m was " t o o Wes te rn " and many immigrant parents w o u l d no t l ike it. The in format ion prov ided by p r o g r a m part icipants in the focus groups described in this study made an impor tant cont r ibut ion t o this discussion. Oveiwhehningly , parents spoke posi t ively o f their experience i n the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram emphasizing the cont r ibut ion the p r o g r a m had made t o their abi l i ty to successfully parent their children in a Canadian context. O f the 56 responses t o the question about the cul tural appropriateness o f the p rog ram, 48 responses were elaborately descriptive prov id ing insight in to the process o f settlement in to a n e w culture. Parents ref lected deeply on their experiences w i t h parent ing in the Canadian cross- cul tural environment and h o w this had been addressed in the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m 68 Parents' discussions a l lowed planners to understand the complex i ty o f the settlement process and to recognize the careful and thought fu l consideration immigrant parents give to cul tural differences and similarit ies as they explore var ious parenting approaches. Parents indicated that much o f the discussion in the parent ing p r o g r a m had addressed similarit ies and differences in chi ld rear ing amongst var ious cultures. W i t h i n the "safe" environment o f the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m parents had discussed the complex issues o f parent ing and i n the equally safe environment o f the first language focus groups these same parents were able t o describe their v iews o f cul tural differences in parent ing practices. The fo l l ow ing quotat ions prov ide some insight in to parents ' reflections: Our background and life style as Chinese is different in many ways from the Westerners. The Westerners are more focused on their children while the Chinese are more focused on our job. The Westerners oppose giving physical punishment toward children. Chinese culture is for physical punishment. But I think we should keep a balance. We should give them the right degree of discipline. We are more conservative. We are not used to verbally and physically expressing and showing our love to our children by telling them "I love you" or giving them a hug. We prefer to hide our feelings in our hearts. Hugging and telling our children "I love you " while they are young is ok. But it is kind of awkward to do so when they are older. Anyhow, I am getting more used to the hugging now. 6 9 In this book, there are some similarities with the Vietnamese culture in teaching children, but there is a dissimilarity such as training children to be independent. It is the good way but being a Vietnamese mother, I am always worried that my children do not have enough warmth andfood. Actually, in Canada, to let children be independent since they are young is a better way. There are some similarities with the Vietnamese culture. One is that we need to be good so children can follow our example. Also, we train children when they are young because when they are older we cannot train them. How Were The Nobody's Perfect Books Useful To You And What Suggestions Do You Have For Improvement? The Nobody 's Perfect P rogram includes five books intended fo r use dur ing the group sessions and b y parents at home. The five books are entit led Body, Safety, Mind, Behaviour, and Parents. Each b o o k is about fifty pages in length and consists o f bo th wr i t t en tex t and accompanying i l lustrations. Each o f the five books addresses sub-topics related t o the t i t le o f the book. For example, the Safety b o o k includes sections related to accidents, ch i ldproof ing the home, t o y safety, car safety, road safety, safety outside the home and first aid. The Behaviour b o o k has sections entit led, " L o v e and Spoi l ing, " " H o w Can I Teach T h e m to Behave?," "Spank ing " and "So lv ing Some C o m m o n Behaviour Problems." F r o m parents' comments i n focus group sessions, p r o g r a m planners learned that parents great ly appreciated 70 the in format ion contained in the books and used this in format ion w i th in their families. Planners also learned, however , that the usefulness o f the books was signif icantly tempered by the inabi l i ty o f most part icipants t o read English. The use o f the p r o g r a m books by part icipants bo th dur ing the p r o g r a m i tse l f as w e l l as at home was discussed at length in all o f the focus groups. I n to ta l , 88 statements were made concerning what parents had learned from the books; 9 0 % o f these statements were elaborate descriptions. Regarding the use o f the books dur ing the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m sessions, part icipants indicated that the degree t o w h i c h the books were used depended pr imar i l y u p o n the group faci l i tator. Where the books had been used extensively, i t was because the faci l i tator had prov ided either w r i t t en or verbal translat ion o f var ious sections o f the books. I n other groups faci l i tators had made verbal reference t o in format ion wh ich they said was in one o f the books. Use o f the books at home was much more common. Some parents indicated that they looked in the books fo r in format ion w h e n they had a concern or a p r o b l e m M a n y parents said they had t r ied t o read the books at home, but often said they could only part ial ly understand the text. Parents repor ted reading or ' l o o k i n g a t " the books w i t h their chi ldren pr imar i ly to teach children h o w t o behave. Some parents repor ted that they looked at the i l lustrat ions and guessed at the message being communicated. Some repor ted discussing these "guesses" w i t h their children. The fo l l ow ing quotat ions are examples o f parents ' comments: 71 I don't know English but I imagined and sometimes guessed what is in the books. We use the books with our children. Both parents and children enjoy them very much. We read, then put the books aside for a while and pick them up again. The pictures are very attractive and helpful. Just by looking at the pictures the children can understand the message. I'm trying to use the Mind book but I'm having trouble with the English. I've been looking for ways to help my daughter when other children take advantage of her at school. I think this book is useful to me even though I can understand only about 50% of the book. I have almost finished reading all of them except the safety book. This one I do not understand clearly. Our English level is not very high. It's not easy to understand the messages in the books. Even though we try to find out the meaning from the dictionary it takes time and sometimes we don't know which definition to pick. There are times when we were frustrated and lost interest in continuing reading. 72 I have not learned too much from the book. The book is not goodfor people who do not know how to read in English. Also, for people whose English level is low, there is lots of new vocabulary that needs to be looked in the dictionary; it will take lots of time to do it. The diff icult ies parents had accessing in format ion f r o m the books was impor tant in format ion fo r planners and po l icy makers. The real ization that the p r o g r a m content might w e l l be incorrect ly interpreted by parents w h o could no t read Engl ish and were dependent on the i l lustrations alarmed Heal th Canada officials. A specific example o f this is the use o f the terms " so r r y " and "safe" w i t h accompanying i l lustrations in the Safety book . Var ious typ ica l situations are i l lustrated w i t h one i l lustrat ion showing an "unsafe" si tuat ion and the other a "safe" situation. However , w i thou t an understanding o f the wr i t t en w o r d s there could easily be confusion regarding the safety o f specific situations. A s we l l , i t was realized that most o f the i l lustrat ions were adequate w h e n accompanied by the wr i t ten text but cou ld no t take the place o f the text i n communicat ing the intended meaning. A lmos t al l part ic ipants i n the focus groups identi f ied translat ion o f the Nobody 's Perfect parent books as the most cr i t ical need fo r change in the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m W i t h o u t translat ion o f the books, parents felt they were not receiving the f u l l benefit o f the p r o g r a m A f e w parents used the simple, yet meaningful imperat ive, "translate the b o o k s " to express this idea. M o s t parents, however , used elaborate statements t o explain w h y translat ion was needed and h o w translat ion o f the books w o u l d benefit their learning. Parents p rov ided very articulate 73 and convincing arguments in support o f translat ion o f the p r o g r a m books t o increase the effectiveness o f the p r o g r a m A s a result, funding was prov ided t o translate al l f ive N o b o d y ' s Perfect books in to Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese and to distr ibute the books i n translat ion t o N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups as needed. The f o l l o w i n g prov ides examples o f parents' comments about the language o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect books: The books are a resource but they are difficult because of the language. We need the information in our language to help us take care of our children. I would like the book translated because my English level is not enough to understand the book. I can get the information in the group, but not from the book. I only can see the pictures. Translate the books to meet the needs of those who are poor in English. When we use the English version we are just like little kids who have to guess the meaning by reading the pictures. The books have to be translated. They were made for Canadians but we need them now. I take the books home and I can't understand them. 74 Translate one book at a time if it is too expensive to do all of them. It may take quite a while before the whole set can be finished. But it is still worth it. It can benefit other mothers in the future. What Ideas Do You Have For Improving The Nobody's Perfect Program? Experienced planners o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P rogram had learned over t ime that Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants typical ly suggested three improvements to the p r o g r a m Focus group discussions analyzed fo r this study suggested that non Engl ish speaking parents, regardless o f their l inguist ic or cul tural background, made the same suggestions fo r p r o g r a m improvement: programs w i t h more sessions, opportuni t ies to continue to meet periodical ly, and fo l low-up programs fo r parents o f older children. I n addi t ion t o the suggestions fo r translat ion o f the Nobody 's Perfect P rogram books, many parents i n the n o n Engl ish speaking focus groups suggested the p r o g r a m be p romoted th rough advertising i n the media o f specific cul tural communit ies. The fo l l ow ing comments from parents in the focus groups indicated their appreciat ion o f the p r o g r a m and their desire to have the p r o g r a m extended and promoted: There should be more programs like this one and the length of these programs should be longer. There should also be a follow up group after the program finishes. 7 5 We would have liked to have gotten deeper into some topics but there was not enough time. There should be a group for parents of older aged kids and teenagers. We are worried about raising teenagers in this culture. The culture's influence is very strong and we want to be ready for what is coming. I hope that there will be a weekend or evening Nobody's Perfect program for working mothers for I will soon be going back to work after my maternity leave. I would like to take the program again in the future. I was ignorant of how or what to feed my baby. Through Nobody's Perfect I am doing fine now. This is an excellent program. It should be widely promoted. There are many other parents who need this kind of information and education. Especially those mothers who have to work full time, come home and take care of the family. The stress they face is tremendous. The Nobody's Perfect program should be advertised in the Vietnamese television, and be emphasized that it is in Vietnamese language. Also, the phone number should be given. 76 C H A P T E R FIVE S U M M A R Y A N D C O N C L U S I O N S Involvement of Non English Speaking Program Participants in Program Evaluation The purpose o f this research was to determine the u t i l i t y o f focus groups as a p r o g r a m evaluation methodo logy w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m participants. A case study approach was used t o study six focus groups w h i c h were conducted in the context o f a p r o g r a m evaluat ion o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m conducted in Vancouver , Canada (R i tch & M c L a r e n , 1 9 9 4 ) . These focus groups were implemented w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part ic ipants t o involve part icipants as stakeholders i n the p r o g r a m evaluation process, to enable p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers t o learn about the experiences o f n o n Engl ish speaking part ic ipants i n the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram and t o improve the p r o g r a m based on the suggestions o f those p r o g r a m participants. The Engl ish speaking researcher w o r k e d w i t h bi l ingual, b icul tural focus g roup faci l i tators in a "co-researcher" relationship p r io r to conduct ing the groups to establish a shared understanding o f the focus group questions and t o ensure consistent w o r d i n g o f the questions that w o u l d enable part icipants t o contr ibute t o the group conversation. Six focus groups were implemented, t w o each in Chinese and Spanish and one each i n Punjabi and Vietnamese. A n average o f t e n p r o g r a m participants attended each o f the t w o hour focus group sessions. On-site chi ld care was prov ided w i t h caregivers w h o spoke the language o f the parents attending. Each focus group was audio 77 recorded and the researcher was an observer at al l sessions. A u d i o tapes o f the sessions were transcribed and translated in to Engl ish by bi l ingual, b icul tura l translators w h o were famil iar w i t h the content area o f parent ing programs. This famil iar i ty w i t h the language and approach o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m contr ibuted t o the p roduc t ion o f meaningful transcripts i n English. These transcripts were then analyzed by the researcher to determine whether focus groups in part ic ipants' first language had produced n e w and useful in format ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers regarding the experiences o f n o n Engl ish speaking Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram participants. M u c h o f the in format ion that was gathered th rough these focus group discussions was " h e w " in format ion fo r p r o g r a m planners and po l icy makers and prov ided suggestions f o r improv ing the effectiveness o f p r o g r a m delivery o f N o b o d y ' s Perfect to n o n Engl ish speaking parents. In fo rmat ion obtained th rough the focus groups conducted in this study regarding the use o f the p rog ram books by n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants is a case in point . Where previously the developer and publisher o f the books, Heal th Canada, had been aware f o r some t ime that bo th staff and p r o g r a m part ic ipants had suggested translat ion o f the books in to several languages, i t was the real izat ion stemming from these focus group discussions that some in format ion in the books was actually being misinterpreted b y n o n Engl ish speaking readers that p rompted officials to take immediate act ion to translate the books in to four addit ional languages. The in format ion gathered from these focus groups and the result ing po l i cy and p r o g r a m changes supports the no t i on o f the u t i l i t y o f focus groups as a p r o g r a m evaluation method w i t h n o n 78 Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m participants. However , given the absence o f in fo rmat ion i n the l i terature related to the use o f focus groups w i t h "specia l " populat ions, more research is needed to understand the process more completely. Jarrett (1993) suggests that the exist ing l i terature on focus group in terv iewing is useful f o r focus group implementat ion generally but that fur ther w o r k is needed t o understand focus group in terv iewing w i t h low- income and/or ethnic and racial minori t ies part icular ly addressing issues such as group composi t ion, facihtat ion, advantages and l imitations. The research fo r the study repor ted in this thesis also suggests the need t o more fu l ly understand the group discussion process i tse l f w i th in a specific cul tural context. The focus groups described i n th is study were most certainly inf luenced b y the fact that all p r o g r a m part ic ipants had completed the Nobody 's Perfect P rog ram and had become famil iar w i t h a group discussion fo rmat to express and exchange ideas. A t the same t ime, regardless o f their readiness to part icipate i n such a group process, their part ic ipat ion in the Nobody 's Perfect Program evaluation w o u l d no t have been possible w i thou t the oppor tun i ty t o prov ide feedback in their first language. T h r o u g h these focus groups conducted in their f i rst language, part icipants were able to part icipate as p r o g r a m stakeholders and to describe their experience in the p r o g r a m A n d al though parents were no t direct ly asked to describe changes in their parent ing result ing f r o m the program, many parents d id suggest ways their everyday l ives were affected by their part ic ipat ion i n the p r o g r a m This in format ion w o u l d have been inaccessible i f the " f i rs t language focus g r o u p " methodo logy had no t been ut i l ized. 79 The recent d i rect ion in social services towards greater user involvement i n p r o g r a m planning has had significant impl icat ions fo r p r o g r a m evaluation including h o w and from w h o m in format ion is gathered (Cro f t & Beresford, 1990) . Conduct ing focus groups in part ic ipants ' preferred language is a response t o the need t o include diverse stakeholders i n p r o g r a m evaluation. I t is a call f o r the applicat ion o f methods w h i c h facil i tate the meaningful part ic ipat ion o f stakeholders i n p r o g r a m evaluation (Kruegar, 1994) and highUghts the importance o f doing research w i t h specific sub populat ions in order t o explore their part icular needs (K i rk rnan-L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991) . Where people feel that their language abil i ty w i l l no t a l low them to fu l ly express themselves, they may feel d isempowered to part icipate in the process. Inv i t ing their input th rough methodologies that a l low part icipants fu l l expression th rough use o f their first language assures equi ty o f outcome fo r these individuals and thus the abil i ty to influence decision-making processes that may affect then- o w n lives. M o r g a n (1997) suggests that w e j udge the u t i l i t y o f focus groups b y whether they help us reach our research goals. The impor tant in format ion result ing from implementat ion and analysis o f focus groups w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking p r o g r a m part icipants i n this study is evidence o f the usefulness o f this quali tat ive method in el ic i t ing in format ion from specific populat ions w h i c h are generally excluded from research samples. I n this study o f the u t i l i ty o f focus groups fo r n o n Engl ish speaking part icipants, the in format ion obtained from part icipants was crucial i n helping evaluators realize the overal l goals o f the evaluation o f the Nobody 's Perfect P r o g r a m The involvement o f these part icipants was also important i n that i t gave these groups the oppor tun i ty t o prov ide input into an evaluation that w o u l d affect t h e m and to exercise some cont ro l on behal f o f their o w n 80 interests (Guba & L inco ln , 1 9 8 9 ) . T h r o u g h meaningful par t ic ipat ion i n the evaluat ion process, n o n Engl ish speaking parents can begin t o take on the stakeholder role i n their o w n services. Limitations of Focus Groups The pr imary l imi ta t ion o f focus groups discussed in the l i terature is that o f the lack o f generalizabihty o f the in format ion gathered. I n quantitative research, sampling methods are used to ensure generalizabihty; such generalizabihty is not possible w i t h focus group methodology. Even i f quantitat ive sampling techniques could be used t o assemble groups, the var iat ions present i n any group mclud ing h o w much individuals w i th in the group ta lk and h o w they share v iews w i th in the groups w o u l d always preclude generalizabihty. I n addressing the issue o f focus group generalizabihty, Krueger (1994) suggests that focus groups are a valuable and useful methodo logy fo r programs in community-based social services agencies specifically because w i th in such organizations, considerable credibi l i ty is g iven to the experience o f the individual. A l so , where i t is important t o hear f r o m p r o g r a m part icipants direct ly concerning the value o f a part icular p r o g r a m to them, there may be sufficient reason t o sacrifice some precision in measurement w i t h the hope that this w i l l increase the usefulness o f the f indings t o persons in and around the p r o g r a m (Shadish et al, 1991) . Ano ther l imi ta t ion ci ted fo r focus groups is that the people inc luded i n the focus group are generally those w h o are ready to vo ice their v iews publ icly. Potent ial ly valuable contr ibutors such as people w i t h hearing or speech problems, very young and ve ry o ld individuals, and people int imidated by art iculat ing their v iews in publ ic are l ike ly to be excluded (Basch, 1987). 81 A fur ther l im i ta t ion is the general lack o f d i rect ion in the l i terature regarding analysis o f the results o f focus groups. M u c h o f the Hterature concerning focus groups describes methods fo r conduct ing the focus groups, but there is l i t t le discussion o f what t o do w i t h the results. I n the absence o f such direct ion, researchers generally f o l l o w qualitative analysis procedures. For focus group analysis vvithin a p r o g r a m evaluation context, researchers generally describe and analyze the responses t o focus group questions in terms o f the usefulness o f the in format ion they prov ide to p rog ram planners and po l icy makers in making decisions regarding p r o g r a m delivery. I n addit ion, in fo rmat ion that w o u l d help researchers analyze the group dynamic among focus group part icipants or the dynamic o f the faci l i tator and the part icipants is generally absent f r o m the hterature. Wh i le the hterature does somewhat address the capacity and indeed the strength o f focus groups t o bu i ld knowledge th rough "g roup t h i n k " the dynamics o f the g roup process are no t sufficiently described. The l imi ted in format ion about group process i n Engl ish language focus groups contr ibutes t o the di f f icul ty o f conduct ing analysis o f the group dynamics w i t h i n other cul tural and l inguist ic groups. Whi le the analysis o f the focus groups fo r this study made no attempt t o compare or contrast the focus group discussions o f diverse cultures or t o draw inferences regarding the ro le o f cul tural background i n either the focus group process or the evaluative in format ion generated by the focus group discussion, i t seems evident that culture is an important factor i n aspects o f the focus group discussion such as turn- tak ing, leading the discussion, and " t r iggers" fo r the top ic or pace o f the discussion. One example o f the influence o f culture was noted in the focus group discussion in 82 Vietnamese in the w a y in w h i c h part icipants seemed to be " t r i ggered" by statements made by the facil i tator. I n this group the faci l i tator per iodical ly summarized what recently had been said by part icipants and i n th is summary the faci l i tator of ten included an idea or top ic w h i c h had no t been previously ment ioned b y group members. Fo l l ow ing the faci l i ta tor 's remarks, this " n e w " top ic was usually addressed b y many o f the participants. This pat tern o f conversat ion was congruent w i t h cul tural pract ice in the Vietnamese communi ty where individuals w h o are he ld i n h igh esteem are of ten emulated by others. The focus group faci l i tator w o u l d ho ld such a place o f honour and respect and, therefore, part icipants w o u l d f o l l o w the faci l i tator 's lead regarding top ics f o r discussion. Whi le this pat tern may suggest to some analysts that the focus group may no t be a useful method f o r p r o g r a m evaluat ion because part ic ipants are t o some degree ' l e d " b y the faci l i tator, this conclusion may be a niisunderstanding o f the process in its cul tural context. This example o f the " t r i gger ing" process is only one example o f aspects o f cul tural dynamics w h i c h are deeply embedded in the focus group process and wh ich require fur ther study so that focus groups may be ut i l ized effectively w i t h diverse populat ions fo r p r o g r a m evaluation purposes. Because i t is no t possible to d raw definit ive conclusions f r o m this one study, cul tural dynamics in these areas warrant further study in order to extend our understanding o f the u t i l i t y o f this methodo logy fo r p rog ram evaluation. 83 Translation Processes The need for translation of research instruments and research data is a major factor which is cited as hindering the amount of research done with linguistic minorities and which has contributed to the reluctance to conduct research with non English speaking populations. The cost of translation and a lack of confidence in the reliability of translated instruments are the two most prevalent reasons cited for avoiding situations where translation of research instruments would be required. The strengths and weaknesses of several methods for translation are described in the literature. Clarke (1992) describes the analysis of qualitative studies as a process of attribution by the investigator of meaning or importance to the data. She raises the question of whether sets of data give rise to the same categories when interpreted by various investigators. Interpretation and the attribution of meaning is of special concern where analysis is being done using transcriptions which have been translated from one language into another. It is important that adequate care be taken to define and check terminology as far as possible (Clarke, 1992) to ensure that the speaker's intended meaning is translated accurately. Because of the need for sensitivity to culturally-specific terms, it is important that translators be familiar with the concepts that are inherent in the program being evaluated. For example the term "Nobody's Perfect" cannot easily be translated into the Chinese language because the notion that one might not strive for perfection is so incompatible with the values of this culture that an equivalent phrase simply does not exist. Translators used Chinese terminology that suggested ideas that were compatible with the intention of the program title and were understandable within Chinese culture. Careful attention to 84 definit ions and checking o f tenn ino logy as w e l l as back translat ion techniques or ver i fy ing translat ion th rough more than one translator, wh i le costly, can serve as mechanisms to ensure consistent at t r ibut ion o f meaning to the data. Program Evaluation Standards Focus groups conducted w i t h n o n Engl ish speaking part icipants o f the Nobody 's Perfect P rogram w i l l contr ibute t o the abil i ty o f evaluations to address the Program Evaluat ion Standards published by the Joint Commit tee o f Standards (1994) . These standards call fo r evaluations w h i c h have ut i l i ty , feasibil i ty, p ropr ie ty and accuracy. The u t i l i t y standards are intended to ensure that the evaluation w i l l serve the in format ion needs o f intended users (The P rog ram Evaluat ion Standards, 1 9 9 4 ) . One o f the aspects ident i f ied as contr ibut ing to this u t i l i t y is the ident i f icat ion o f stakeholders i n the evaluation and attent ion to addressing their needs. 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