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A case study of the utility of focus groups for program evaluation involving non-English speaking program… Ritch, Adele Denise 1997

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A CASE STUDY OF T H E U T I L I T Y OF FOCUS GROUPS FOR PROGRAM EVALUATION INVOLVING NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS  by  ADELE DENISE RTTCH B . E d . , The U n i v e r s i t y o f A l b e r t a , 1978  A THESIS SUBMITTED I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S FOR T H E DEGREE O F M A S T E R OF ARTS in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES  D e p a r t m e n t o f E d u c a t i o n a l Studies  W e accept this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g t o the required standard  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A O c t o b e r 1997 © A d e l e Denise R i t c h , 1997  In  presenting  degree freely  this  at the  thesis  in  partial f u l f i l m e n t > o f  University  of  British: Columbia,  available for  copying  of  department publication  this or  thesis by  o f this  permission.  Department  reference  his  or  thesis  of  her  I agree  I further  purposes  for. financial  gain  agree  may  representatives.  that  be  It  shall not  that  British  is be  Ar-VoW/-  1  %[  •  I^  permission  allowed  '-.  ^1- •'•.  an  advanced  Library shall  by  understood  Columbia .V'-  the  granted  • f~~<d[  Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  scholarly  requirements; for  . >,'.•.•  The University of  Date  for  and study.  the  for  the that  without  make  it  extensive  head  of  my  copying  or  my  written  ABSTRACT  In an English language context, the ability o f program participants with limited English competency to participate i n 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 N o b o d y ' s Perfect Parenting Program (Ritch & McLaren, 1994), a case study approach was used to determine the utility o f 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 i n 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.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract  ii  Acknowledgment  v  Chapter One:  Introduction  1  m v o r v i n g N o n E n g l i s h Speaking Participants i n P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n  1  D e s c r i p t i o n o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Parenting P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n  3  C h o o s i n g F o c u s G r o u p s as an E v a l u a t i o n M e t h o d  6  Case S t u d y o f F o c u s G r o u p s U s i n g Languages Other T h a n E n g l i s h  8  Chapter T w o :  Literature Review  11  Focus Groups i n Program Evaluation  11  U n d e r Representation o f M i n o r i t y G r o u p s i n P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n  14  U s i n g F o c u s G r o u p s W i t h " S p e c i a l " Populations  20  Use o f L a n g u a g e i n Research Processes  23  Chapter Three:  Methodology  28  T he Case S t u d y A p p r o a c h  28  D e v e l o p i n g the F o c u s G r o u p Questions  30  F o c u s G r o u p Facilitators  32  Cross C u l t u r a l Facilitation o f F o c u s G r o u p s  36  Focus Group Composition  38  Permission t o Participate  41  Support f o r Parent Participation  42  C o n d u c t i n g the F o c u s G r o u p s  43  R e c o r d i n g , T r a n s c r i p t i o n and Translation o f F o c u s G r o u p D a t a  44  Chapter F o u r :  Analysis o f F o c u s G r o u p s  48  Understanding Participants' Response t o the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m  48  W h y d i d y o u Choose t o Participate i n N o b o d y ' s Perfect?  51  W h a t d i d y o u L i k e A b o u t the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m ?  55  W h a t d i d y o u L e a r n F r o m the N o b o d y ' s Perfect Program?  58  D i d t h e L e a d e r o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m Seem M o r e L i k e a Teacher o r a Facilitator?  62  D i d the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m Seem A p p r o p r i a t e t o Y o u r Culture?  67  H o w W e r e the N o b o d y ' s Perfect B o o k s U s e f u l t o y o u and W h a t Suggestions d o y o u H a v e f o r I m p r o v e m e n t ?  69  W h a t Ideas do y o u H a v e f o r I m p r o v i n g the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m ?  74  iv  Chapter Five:  Summary and Conclusions  76  I n v o l v e m e n t o f N o n English Speaking P r o g r a m Participants i n P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n  76  Limitations o f Focus Groups  80  T r a n s l a t i o n Processes  83  P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n Standards  84  Bibliography  85  Appendix  91  ACKNOWLEDGMENT  I w i s h t o t h a n k t h e members o f m y research committee, D r . Judith O t t o s o n and D r . Bernie M o h a n f o r t h e i r enthusiasm and insight. I particularly t h a n k m y F a c u l t y A d v i s o r , D r . T o m Sork, f o r his patience, flexibility and clarity t h r o u g h o u t this study. I also w i s h t o t h a n k m y f a m i l y and friends w h o i n so m a n y w a y s supported the c o m p l e t i o n o f t h i s thesis. I express sincere gratitude t o m y life partner, Dianne L i s c u m b . H e r i n v o l v e m e n t t h r o u g h o u t the study and critique o f the m a n y drafts enriched all aspects o f this w o r k .  1  CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION  Involving Non English Speaking Participants in Program Evaluation  The demand f o r accountability o f p u b l i c l y funded p r o g r a m s is o n the rise creating an increasing need f o r relevant and comprehensive evaluation o f such p r o g r a m s . F a m i l y support services such as p a r e n t i n g p r o g r a m s offered t h r o u g h community-based n o n - p r o f i t agencies are a particular t y p e o f p u b l i c l y f u n d e d p r o g r a m w h i c h require the development o f evaluation strategies w h i c h are effective and appropriate t o the settings and circumstances t y p i c a l o f such services. A t m a n y c o m m u n i t y service agencies, f a m i l y support p r o g r a m s n o w include p r o g r a m s c o n d u c t e d i n languages other than E n g l i s h f o r families o f diverse c u l t u r a l and linguistic b a c k g r o u n d s w h o prefer t o attend p r o g r a m s w h e r e t h e i r first language is spoken. E v a l u a t i o n o f these p r o g r a m s offers particular challenges f o r p r o g r a m evaluation.  T o date, evaluation o f f a m i l y support p r o g r a m s has been done p r i m a r i l y w i t h w h i t e , m i d d l e t o upper class, E n g l i s h speaking populations. The omission o f p r o g r a m participants w h o do n o t speak English f r o m evaluation studies leads t o the u n d e r r e p o r t i n g o f the impact o f these p r o g r a m s i n these c u l t u r a l and linguistic communities (Johnson, Beiser & K r e c h , 1 9 9 1 ; L i n c o l n , 1 9 9 1 ; M a d i s o n , 1992; M o r g a n , 1993) . W h i l e there are n u m e r o u s studies o f parent education p r o g r a m s using v a r i o u s research designs, f e w investigations have been directed  2  t o w a r d evaluating the effectiveness o f parenting p r o g r a m s f o r parents o f different educational and socioeconomic status ( D a n g e l & Polster, 1985) .  A s w e l l the c o m m o n practice o f identifying b i l i n g u a l b i c u l t u r a l individuals ( o f t e n staff) t o act as a " b r i d g e " b e t w e e n p r o g r a m participants and the p r o g r a m evaluator does n o t address the need t o integrate p r o g r a m participants i n t o evaluation processes. I n order t o respond t o the c u l t u r a l and linguistic barriers t o p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f p r o g r a m participants i n the evaluation o f community-based f a m i l y support p r o g r a m s , i t is crucial f o r evaluators t o develop comprehensive, p r a c t i c a l and effective evaluation methods that address the reality o f the f a m i l y diversity usually f o u n d i n the general p o p u l a t i o n today.  The i m p o r t a n t question f o r evaluation o f social p r o g r a m s is n o t w h e t h e r the process used is capable o f d e t e n n i n i n g t r u t h ( M a d i s o n , 1992) . I t i s m o r e critical that t h e " d i s c o v e r y o f t r u t h entail mechanisms f o r i n p u t from the populations m o s t directly affected b y social p o l i c y " ( M a d i s o n , 1992, p. 1) . M a d i s o n contends that evaluators have an " e t h i c a l and m o r a l obligation t o examine the efficacy o f existing evaluation technologies i n determining the impact o f social p r o g r a m s o n the lives o f the p o o r and m i n o r i t i e s " ( M a d i s o n , 1992, p. 1) . Evaluators o f social p r o g r a m s must consider evaluation methods that address the particular needs o f n o n E n g l i s h speaking participants enabling t h e m t o be included as stakeholders i n the evaluation process. I t must be recognized that w h e n people have l i m i t e d E n g l i s h competency, their ability t o participate i n meamngfuL evaluative conversations c o n d u c t e d i n E n g l i s h , about their experiences i n p r o g r a m s is limited. W i t h i n an English language context, i n f o r m a t i o n  3  gathered f r o m p r o g r a m participants w i t h l i m i t e d English skills w i l l always be less complete than that o f first language E n g l i s h speakers. H o w e v e r , w h e n p r o g r a m participants are i n v i t e d t o engage i n the evaluation process i n their preferred language, t h e y have an o p p o r t u n i t y t o make a m e a n i n g f u l c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the evaluation process ( G u b a & L i n c o l n , 1989) . A s the n u m b e r o f f a m i l y support p r o g r a m s i n languages other t h a n E n g l i s h increases, i t becomes critical t o address t h e complexities inherent i n the evaluations o f such p r o g r a m s t h r o u g h the development o f m e t h o d o l o g i e s w h i c h w i l l encourage the i n v o l v e m e n t o f p r o g r a m participants and p r o v i d e useful i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers.  Description of the Nobody's Perfect Parenting Program Evaluation  The N o b o d y ' s Perfect Parenting P r o g r a m is described as being based o n an " a d u l t education m o d e l . " T h e p r o g r a m manual describes this m o d e l as one w h e r e participants learn t h r o u g h discussion w i t h others, rather t h a n f r o m an " e x p e r t " p r o v i d i n g i n f o r m a t i o n . T h i s m o d e l distinguishes N o b o d y ' s Perfect f r o m other w e l l - k n o w n parenting p r o g r a m s w h e r e a particular approach t o p a r e n t i n g is " t a u g h t " t o parents b y a professional educator. N o b o d y ' s Perfect is based o n the premise that parents attending the g r o u p have experience and k n o w l e d g e about parenting and that t h e y come together t o learn m o r e b y sharing their experiences w i t h other parents. The goals o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m are: •  T o increase parents' k n o w l e d g e and understanding o f children's health, safety and behaviour.  •  T o effect positive change i n parents' behaviour relative t o their children's health, safety and behaviour.  •  T o i m p r o v e parents' c o p i n g skills.  •  T o i m p r o v e parents' confidence and self-esteem as parents.  •  T o b u i l d self-help and m u t u a l support n e t w o r k s .  G r o u p s o f 8-12 parents meet once a w e e k f o r 6-8 w e e k s t o discuss p a r e n t i n g issues. These g r o u p s are facilitated b y hidividuals trained i n facilitation methods and w h o are familiar w i t h the content and p h i l o s o p h y o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m . These g r o u p facilitators w o r k w i t h the g r o u p t o develop an agenda w h i c h relates t o the interests o f the g r o u p participants. N o b o d y ' s Perfect p r o g r a m materials include five b o o k s entitled " B o d y , " " S a f e t y , " ' M i n d , " " B e h a v i o u r , " and " P a r e n t s . " These b o o k s contain i n f o r m a t i o n about children's physical, intellectual and e m o t i o n a l development, i n j u r y p r e v e n t i o n , and p r o b l e m solving. These p l a i n language, illustrated b o o k s are published b y H e a l t h Canada and are p r o v i d e d t o all p r o g r a m participants free o f charge.  Criteria f o r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m includes parents w i t h children under six years o l d w h o m a y be y o u n g , single, have l o w education and have l o w incomes o r w h o m a y be socially, geographically, o r culturally isolated. P r o g r a m fees, l a c k o f child care and t r a n s p o r t a t i o n needs are recognized as c o m m o n barriers p r e v e n t i n g m a n y parents  from  participating i n p a r e n t i n g p r o g r a m s (Cross, 1 9 8 1 ; Stevens, 1993) . I n r e c o g n i t i o n o f these obstacles, the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m is offered at n o charge and includes on-site child  5  m i n d i n g T r a n s p o r t a t i o n costs are covered f o r parents w h o express a need f o r this support and snacks or meals are frequently p r o v i d e d . These supports are an integral part o f the i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m t h r o u g h o u t B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a and are considered essential t o a l l o w parents o f small children t o attend. I n V a n c o u v e r , m a n y parents participate i n the p r o g r a m i n languages i n addition t o English i n c l u d i n g Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese, and other languages as required.  O v e r the past t e n years n u m e r o u s evaluations f r o m m u l t i p l e perspectives have been done federally and p r o v i n c i a l l y t o determine the effectiveness o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m i n meeting its goals and objectives. E a c h o f these evaluations has identified N o b o d y ' s Perfect as a h i g h l y successful p r o g r a m ( B r o c h u , 1992; Rivers and Assoc., 1990; VanderPlaat, 1988) . H o w e v e r , n o n e o f these evaluations addressed i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w i t h participants w h o speak languages other t h a n E n g l i s h p a r t i c u l a r l y the v a r i o u s c u l t u r a l and linguistic aspects o f p r o g r a m content and delivery. Because o f linguistic and cultural barriers n o n E n g l i s h speaking parents w e r e unable t o contribute t o the usual p r o g r a m evaluation processes o f surveys, impact studies o r satisfaction scales.  I n 1994, an evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m i n languages other t h a n English w a s conducted i n V a n c o u v e r , Canada ( R i t c h & 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 w e r e implemented w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants t o enable p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y m a k e r s t o learn about the particular experiences o f n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants. These six f o c u s  6  groups f o r m e d the basis o f this current study t o determine the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s t o p r o v i d e n e w and u s e f u l i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planning and p o l i c y m a k i n g . H e a l t h Canada w a s p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n obtaining reactions o f n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants t o the p r o g r a m b o o k s w h i c h are a fundamental part o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and are p r o v i d e d free o f charge t o all p r o g r a m participants t h r o u g h o u t the country. A s w e l l , the agencies i n v o l v e d i n p r o g r a m i m p l e m e n t a t i o n and the p r o v i n c i a l g o v e r n m e n t , as a p r o g r a m funder, w e r e all interested i n learning m o r e about h o w this p r o g r a m w a s b e i n g implemented w i t h diverse c u l t u r a l groups.  Choosing Focus Groups as an Evaluation Method  One o f the k e y c o n t e x t u a l factors w h i c h shaped the evaluation o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w a s the inclusion o f p r o g r a m participants w h o d i d n o t speak E n g l i s h as k e y stakeholders (Shadish, C o o k , & L e v i t o n , 1991) . I n particular, a p r i m a r y consideration i n the development o f the evaluation design and choice o f data collection m e t h o d s w a s an emphasis o n ensuring the i n v o l v e m e n t o f participants from N o b o d y ' s Perfect g r o u p s facilitated i n languages other t h a n English. I n this regard, the focus g r o u p , w h i c h t y p i c a l l y consists o f approximately 8 t o 12 people, facilitated i n a carefully planned discussion b y a skilled facilitator, w a s chosen as the m o s t effective m e t h o d . Focus g r o u p s are o f t e n used i n p r o g r a m evaluation w h e n the g o a l is t o obtain i n depth i n f o r m a t i o n about a particular t o p i c . T h r o u g h f o c u s g r o u p s evaluators h o p e t o learn about issues that are best accessed t h r o u g h g r o u p conversation and discussion. I n this situation the f o c u s g r o u p f o r m a t p r o v i d e d an o p p o r t u n i t y  7  t o obtain m e a n i n g f u l and comprehensive i n f o r m a t i o n about the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m from g r o u p participants. Focus g r o u p questions i n v o l v e d t h e m i n discussions about their experiences i n the p r o g r a m and asked t h e m f o r suggestions f o r its i m p r o v e m e n t .  M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) describes f o c u s g r o u p s i n the f o l l o w i n g manner:  F o c u s g r o u p s are basically g r o u p interviews...where the reliance is o n interaction w i t h i n the g r o u p , based o n topics that are supplied b y the researcher w h o typically takes the r o l e o f a moderator. The h a l l m a r k o f focus g r o u p s is t h e i r explicit use o f g r o u p interaction t o p r o d u c e data and insights that w o u l d be less accessible w i t h o u t the i n t e r a c t i o n f o u n d i n a g r o u p , ( p . 2 )  M o r g a n ' s description o f focus group m e t h o d o l o g y is congruent w i t h the central aspect o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w h e r e participants are especially encouraged t o share i n f o r m a t i o n , ideas and feelings w i t h each other and b u i l d k n o w l e d g e t h r o u g h the exchange o f v a r i o u s personal perspectives. The similarity b e t w e e n the research m e t h o d and the p r o g r a m i t s e l f made the f o c u s g r o u p seem a m o s t appropriate evaluation m e t h o d f o r obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n from p r o g r a m participants.  I n contrast, surveys w e r e n o t considered t o be as appropriate f o r the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m because the approach d i d n o t fit w e l l w i t h the goals o f the evaluation w h i c h emphasized p e o p l e ' s reactions t o the p r o g r a m rather t h a n identification o f  8  specific and measurable p r o g r a m effects o r outcomes. A l s o , i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f surveys can be difficult w i t h p o p u l a t i o n s w h o m a y n o t be used t o such instruments and w h o m a y n o t be literate i n English or other languages (Weiss, 1988) . Finally, translation o f survey instruments raises some c o m p l e x issues including questions o f vaUdity i n a cross c u l t u r a l context (Boshier, 1 9 9 1 ; E r v i n & B o w e r , 1953) .  Use o f m d i v i d u a l i n t e r v i e w s w i t h participants w a s also deemed less valuable t h a n f o c u s g r o u p s f o r this evaluation. Personal interviews w i t h participants runs counter t o the p r e v i o u s experience o f these individuals w h o h a d come t o rely o n g r o u p 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. W h i l e i n t e r v i e w s are generally ideal f o r obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n about p e o p l e ' s feelings and experiences, t h e y m a y n o t be prudent i n all situations. T h e i n t e r v i e w process involves an i n d i v i d u a l participant i n an intensive conversation w i t h an interviewer. A g e n c y staff revealed that m a n y p r o g r a m participants w e r e " s h y " and w o u l d p r o b a b l y n o t v o l u n t e e r f o r an i n d i v i d u a l i n t e r v i e w . These considerations along w i t h the h i g h cost o f translation o f n u m e r o u s i n t e r v i e w transcripts w e r e strong factors i n deciding t o p r o c e e d 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 f o c u s g r o u p s as a p r o g r a m evaluation m e t h o d o l o g y t h r o u g h a case study approach. The case study describes the development and i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f f o c u s groups i n languages other t h a n English and analyzes the extent t o w h i c h these f o c u s g r o u p s  enabled participants t o p r o v i d e n e w and useful i n f o r m a t i o n t o p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers. T h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s case study w a s t o determine t h e u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s as a p r o g r a m evaluation m e t h o d o l o g y w i t h p r o g r a m participants f r o m diverse c u l t u r a l and linguistic b a c k g r o u n d s w h o are n o t confident English speakers. I n the c o n t e x t o f this study, u t i l i t y is considered t o be the extent t o w h i c h the use o f f o c u s g r o u p s contributes t o the ability o f n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants t o :  •  Participate as stakeholders i n the p r o g r a m evaluation process.  •  P r o v i d e elaborate descriptions o f their experience w i t h the p r o g r a m  •  Offer i n f o r m a t i o n w h i c h 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 linguistic barriers are able t o participate as stakeholders i n the evaluation process w h e n t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n is sought i n their preferred language. Focus g r o u p discussions i n participants' first language enable t h e m t o f u l l y contribute t o the evaluation process and p r o v i d e p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers w i t h considerable i n f o r m a t i o n about participants' experience i n the p r o g r a m as w e l l as v e r y clear directions f o r p r o g r a m i m p r o v e m e n t .  A c c o r d i n g t o B r i s l i n ( 1 9 8 1 ) , n o n English speaking participants m a y be invisible i n the evaluation context w h e n their opinions are n o t sought i n their p r e f e r r e d language. T h r o u g h the use o f f o c u s g r o u p s , n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants p r o v i d e d i n f o r m a t i o n that w o u l d otherwise have been unheard b y p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers. P r o g r a m  participants became stakeholders i n the evaluation process t h r o u g h p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a f o c u s group discussion i n their preferred language. Understanding the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s f o r p r o v i d i n g u s e f u l i n f o r m a t i o n w h i c h is otherwise n o t available w i l l encourage the use o f f o c u s groups as a m e t h o d o l o g y i n 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 f o c u s g r o u p s is a qualitative research approach designed t o o b t a i n i n depth i n f o r m a t i o n , understanding and ideas about a specific area o f interest ( B a s c h , 1987; K r u e g a r , 1 9 9 4 ) . F o c u s g r o u p s are b e c o m i n g increasingly p o p u l a r as a p r o g r a m evaluation m e t h o d f o r evaluators o f adult education p r o g r a m s t o p r o v i d e insight i n t o the attitudes, perceptions, and opinions o f participants ( K r u e g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1993; M o r g a n , 1997) . Indeed, there has been a r a p i d and dramatic increase i n t h e use o f f o c u s g r o u p s i n a w i d e range o f research situations d u r i n g t h e past t e n years ( M o r g a n , 1997) . Originally called f o c u s e d interviews, this technique became p o p u l a r d u r i n g the late 1940's after i t w a s first used b y R o b e r t M e r t o n t o evaluate radio p r o g r a m s i n the U n i t e d States ( S t e w a r t & Shamdasani, 1990) . M e r t o n and others developed the focused i n t e r v i e w technique, m o d i f y i n g the procedures f o r t h e i r o w n research needs. F o c u s g r o u p s have since become an i m p o r t a n t t o o l f o r researchers i n m a n y fields i n c l u d i n g p r o g r a m evaluation, m a r k e t i n g , public p o l i c y , advertising and conimunications ( S t e w a r t & Shamdasani, 1 9 9 0 ) . I n the field o f health education, health educators h a d used small g r o u p process as a m e t h o d f o r p r o g r a m delivery, skills t r a i n i n g , p r o b l e m solving, and organizing individuals and g r o u p s , b u t f o c u s g r o u p s f o r research purposes w e r e n o t used u n t i l the 1980s (Basch, 1987) .  The usefulness o f f o c u s g r o u p s 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 evaluation has been w i d e l y recognized and indeed m u c h o f the literature about f o c u s groups has been w r i t t e n i n the last t e n years (Basch, 1987; K r e u g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1997) . F o c u s g r o u p s m a y be used i n m a n y w a y s f o r research and b o t h K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 4 ) and M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) encourage researchers t o experiment w i t h the range o f possibilities f o r f o c u s groups. M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) suggests that there is n o " o n e r i g h t w a y " t o do f o c u s g r o u p s and encourages researchers t o make choices that w i l l enhance b o t h the research process and the resultant information.  Basch ( 1 9 8 7 ) suggests that along w i t h the synergism vvithin g r o u p s w h i c h can u n c o v e r i m p o r t a n t understandings, there is p o t e n t i a l f o r g r o u p s t o p r o v i d e a secure setting f o r individuals t o express ideas, particularly those related t o sensitive areas. T h e g r o u p process allows c o m m e n t s f r o m one participant t o stimulate ideas f o r other participants and p r o v i d e s opportunities f o r participants' o w n t h o u g h t s and theories about a t o p i c t o be considered alongside other ideas derived f r o m existing t h e o r y o r p r i o r research ( M o r g a n & Spanish, 1984) . M u l l e n and Reynolds ( 1 9 8 2 ) argue that approaches w h i c h are concerned w i t h u n c o v e r i n g the meanings, definitions and interpretations made b y the subjects o f the study are m o r e l i k e l y t o accurately depict their priorities t h a n methods w h i c h b e g i n b y preconceiving that w o r l d and i t s meaning. Basch ( 1 9 8 7 ) states that "understanding t h e target g r o u p ' s perspective is integral t o achieving the goals o f health education and f o c u s g r o u p i n t e r v i e w s are an appropriate m e t h o d f o r understanding and developing sensitivity t o w a r d those w e serve" (p. 4 3 6 ) .  13  Focus g r o u p s are particularly w e l l suited t o investigations w h i c h h o p e t o obtain a w i d e range o f i n f o r m a t i o n , a l l o w i n g participants t o explore issues and suggest i m p r o v e m e n t s t o programs. The f o c u s g r o u p discussions conducted as part o f the evaluation o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m a l l o w e d the researcher t o d r a w o n the r a p p o r t p r e v i o u s l y established a m o n g participants i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and therefore b e g i n the evaluative process w i t h participants i n a safe, familiar and comfortable environment. The f o c u s g r o u p has the advantage o f a l l o w i n g people t i m e t o reflect and recall experiences ( L o f l a n d & L o f l a n d , 1995) . Responses f r o m i n d i v i d u a l participants can spark ideas, memories, opinions o r connections f o r other participants (Basch, 1987; K r u e g e r , 1994; L o f l a n d & L o f l a n d , 1995) . The focus g r o u p , w h e r e participants are simultaneously influencing and are influenced b y others, provides a n a t u r a l environment f o r the process o f exchange and b u i l d i n g o f k n o w l e d g e ( K r u e g e r , 1994) .  Focus g r o u p s have become a w i d e l y used t o o l f o r gathering i n f o r m a t i o n and m a n y evaluators have indicated a need f o r f u r t h e r w o r k using f o c u s g r o u p s i n " s p e c i a l " p o p u l a t i o n s ( K r u e g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1997) . H o w e v e r , t h i s w o r k has n o t been w i d e l y done o r r e p o r t e d . Y e t , t h e focus group seems p a r t i c u l a r l y suited f o r obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n from special p o p u l a t i o n s especially w h e n p r o g r a m initiatives such as parenting g r o u p s are t a r g e t i n g p o p u l a t i o n s w h i c h may n o t be t y p i c a l l y i n v o l v e d i n health education and p r e v e n t i o n p r o g r a m s ( L e n g u a et aL 1992).  14  P r o g r a m evaluation processes i n p r e v e n t i o n p r o g r a m s w i t h participants w h o speak l i m i t e d English are often a source o f great f r u s t r a t i o n f o r staff i n community-based agencies. English speaking agency s t a f f r e p o r t that w h e n they seek participants' opinions about the effectiveness o f p r o g r a m s , participants w h o speak English as a second language w i l l t y p i c a l l y give simplistic responses compared t o the comprehensive feedback received f r o m first language English speakers. Such simplistic responses are often perceived b y agency staff as reticence o n the part o f p r o g r a m participants t o offer opinions about their experiences, and is o f t e n attributed t o " c u l t u r a l differences", i n some cases leading t o t h e conclusion that p e o p l e f r o m some c u l t u r a l b a c k g r o u n d s are either less able o r less w i l l i n g t o reflect o n their experiences and t o p r o v i d e feedback. F o c u s g r o u p s conducted i n p r o g r a m participants' first languages p r o v i d e an o p p o r t u n i t y t o explore the relationship b e t w e e n participants' c o m f o r t level and confidence w i t h the language used and participants' ability t o make a m e a n i n g f u l c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the evaluative process. I n addition, these f o c u s g r o u p s highUght the process o f language use w i t h i n a g r o u p context.  Under Representation Of Minority Groups in Program Evaluation  F e w studies specifically address the need t o conduct research i n languages other than English and there is little i n the literature t o guide the evaluator i n w o r k i n g w i t h i n m u l t i c u l t u r a l organizations o r w i t h g r o u p participants w h o speak languages other t h a n English. K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 4 ) suggests that as the n o n p r o f i t sector reaches o u t t o diverse audiences, sensitivity is  15  needed t o adapt f o c u s g r o u p s t o b u i l d o n t h e strengths o f the target audience. T h i s need has n o t yet been w e l l addressed.  M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 3 ) states that w h i l e the existing literature about f o c u s g r o u p s concentrates o n w o r k w i t h relatively affluent people, there is also some discussion i n t h e literature w h i c h alludes t o the use o f f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h " h a r d - t o - r e a c h " populations. H o w e v e r , little systematic attention has been g i v e n t o these f o c u s g r o u p s ( M o r g a n , 1993) . W h i l e i t m a y be recognized that a particular strength o f the f o c u s g r o u p m e t h o d o l o g y is that i t can be sensitive t o diverse participants, little research u s i n g f o c u s g r o u p s has been done w i t h participants w h o are n o t w h i t e and m i d d l e o r u p p e r class ( K r e u g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1 9 9 3 ) . M a d i s o n ( 1 9 9 2 ) p o i n t s o u t that racial and ethnic minorities as w e l l as the p o o r have often been o m i t t e d as stakeholder participants i n evaluation o f social service p r o g r a m s because o f t h e evaluation methods c o m m o n l y used b y researchers. Others agree that target beneficiaries are often the least l i k e l y t o have their voices heard. Rossi and Freeman ( 1 9 9 3 ) suggest that i n social p r o g r a m s the beneficiaries m a y be "unorganized, p o o r l y educated, and reluctant t o identify themselves" ( p . 4 0 7 ) . L i n c o l n and G u b a ( 1 9 8 5 ) assert that " a l l stakeholder g r o u p s can expect t o receive the o p p o r t u n i t y t o p r o v i d e i n p u t i n t o an evaluation that affects it ( s i c ) . . . A n y t h i n g else is patently u n f a i r and d i s c r i m i n a t o r y " (p. 5 1 ) . I n a later w o r k L i n c o l n ( 1 9 9 1 ) f u r t h e r describes a v i s i o n o f research w h i c h addresses the identified absence o f v a r i o u s m i n o r i t y groups:  16  Scientific i n q u i r y t o d a y includes c o m m i t m e n t s first, 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 t h e uses o f i n q u i r y and t o w a r d its ability t o foster a c t i o n ; and finally, t o a v i s i o n o f research that enables and p r o m o t e s social justice, c o m m u n i t y , diversity, civic discourse, and caring. L i n c o l n argues that any discussion o f standards o f research t o d a y necessarily signifies a radical shift i n the v i s i o n o f w h a t research is, w h a t i t is f o r , and w h o o u g h t t o have access t o it. (p. 2 7 8 )  L i n c o l n ( 1 9 9 1 ) places the onus o f responsibility o n evaluators saying that m o s t people w h o evaluate social p r o g r a m s k n o w v e r y little about the m i n o r i t y p r o g r a m participants' w o r l d v i e w and " m a y even instinctively keep their distance" (p. 6 ) . Prieto ( 1 9 9 2 ) echoes this v i e w and suggests that researchers m a y even be choosing n o t t o w o r k t o w a r d s o v e r c o m i n g this barrier i n their w o r k . I n response t o the r e c o g n i t i o n that evaluators m a y n o t f u l l y understand the experiences o f those t h e y are studying, L i n c o l n ( 1 9 9 1 ) strongly urges evaluators t o heed the f o l l o w i n g advice:  R e l y o n stakeholders w h o w a n t t o speak f o r themselves, t o participate i n the radical social experiment o f g i v i n g v o i c e t o those w h o cannot be h e a r d , and t o seeing those w h o have been invisible...Until w e comprehend the lives that w e do n o t lead, w e w i l l never understand h o w t o assess w h a t o u r p r o g r a m s are d o i n g f o r the persons w h o are l i v i n g those lives, and u n t i l w e understand w h a t t h e y c o n f r o n t , w e w i l l never k n o w  17  h o w t o f o r m u l a t e humane and decent p r o g r a m s w h i c h directly address c o m p l e x social problems, ( p . 6 )  K k k m a n - L i f f and M o n d r a g o n ( 1 9 9 1 ) state that the language o f the i n t e r v i e w is rarely i f ever considered b y researchers. I n their r e v i e w o f 69 studies, they f o u n d that n o n e o f the studies treated the language o f the i n t e r v i e w as a variable. I n their o w n study o f the health status o f Hispanics i n the Southwest U n i t e d States, the authors f o u n d striking differences i n the health o f those w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d i n E n g l i s h and those w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d i n Spanish. Cross tabulations f o r nine health status variables and access t o health care measurements revealed that Hispanics w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d i n Spanish h a d l o w e r health status and p o o r e r access t o care t h a n Hispanics w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d i n E n g l i s h ( K i r k r n a n - L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991) . These results clearly identified language as a variable o f health and emphasized the importance o f c o n d u c t i n g i n t e r v i e w s i n Spanish t o obtain i n f o r m a t i o n about this particular g r o u p o f u n i l i n g u a l Spanish speakers. T h e researchers i n this study emphasized that the Hispanics i n t e r v i e w e d i n Spanish w o u l d have been o m i t t e d from the usual research sample o f English speaking participants w i t h the resultant lack o f awareness o f the critical differences i n health status b e t w e e n English speaking and exclusively Spanish speaking Hispanics. T h e authors o f this study argue that the refinement o f translingual and transcultural m e t h o d o l o g i e s and the use o f translated instruments are critical t o research and that analysis o f the language o f i n t e r v i e w w i l l p r o m o t e understanding o f specific populations ( K i r k r n a n - L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991).  18  Stansfield ( 1 9 9 6 ) identifies another example o f a situation w h e r e n o n E n g l i s h speakers w e r e n o t included i n the collection o f research data. H e describes state-wide assessment p r o g r a m s i n the U n i t e d States w h i c h p r o v i d e assessments o f all students at several grade levels i n a v a r i e t y o f content areas. H o w e v e r , w h e r e students are E n g l i s h language learners, they are routinely deferred from t a k i n g this test u n t i l t h e y become English p r o f i c i e n t o r are seniors i n h i g h school w h e r e the test is mandatory. Thus, these n o n English speaking students lose benefits such as feedback about their progress, appropriate r e m e d i a t i o n w h e r e necessary and can easily be o v e r l o o k e d and f o r g o t t e n b y the education system. Stansfield ( 1 9 9 6 ) suggests that the solution t o this p r o b l e m is assessment o f students i n their native languages. W h i l e recognizing the difficulties i n the accurate translation o f the tests, the author recommends translation o f the test i n t o students' native language and content assessment o f students' responses i n the native language. Such innovations i n testing w o u l d ensure that m o r e comprehensive data w e r e collected o n student achievement and that all students w o u l d be included i n assessments o f content k n o w l e d g e .  A n o t h e r study w h i c h focused o n schools i n the U n i t e d States identifies the barriers t o school involvement b y parents w h o do n o t speak English (Epstein, 1 9 8 6 ) . T h e 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 p r o f i c i e n c y and that publications and notices must be translated f o r parents t o ensure f u l l understanding. A l s o , interpreters must be available t o help parents understand the i n f o r m a t i o n and enable parents t o communicate as an equal w i t h their children's teachers (Epstein, 1986) . These  19  efforts must be made t o p r o v i d e the necessary supports i n order f o r parents t o f u l f i l l the basic obligations t o support their children's schooling.  Regarding the evaluation o f parenting p r o g r a m s , Johnston et aL ( 1 9 9 1 ) state that w h i l e evaluations o f parenting p r o g r a m s indicate that they are effective i n p r o m o t i n g positive parent-child interactions, m o s t parent education p r o g r a m s have been developed and evaluated as applied t o mainstream A m e r i c a n families or, occasionally, Canadian families. I n a r e v i e w o f the literature, these authors f o u n d little i n f o r m a t i o n about p r o g r a m s f o r ethnocultural communities, and even less i n f o r m a t i o n about their evaluation. T o obtain greater i n f o r m a t i o n , the researchers distributed a questionnaire t o 100 agencies i n Canada p r o v i d i n g p r i m a r y and tertiary care t o families. T h r o u g h this process, they learned that w h i l e there w e r e some parenting p r o g r a m s f o r ethnocultural communities, n o evaluations o f these p r o g r a m s w e r e available. T h e authors o f this study strongly suggested f u r t h e r research and evaluation o f the effectiveness o f parenting p r o g r a m s f o r ethnocultural communities. T h e y also suggest that w i t h the development o f p r o g r a m s f o r people o f diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, there is a need t o develop evaluation designs and methodologies t o include p o p u l a t i o n s w h o are often i g n o r e d due t o language and cultural 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 directly addressed the effectiveness o f f o c u s g r o u p s t o obtain i n f o r m a t i o n about d i f f i c u l t - t o - r e a c h , h i g h risk families, conducted b y L e n g u a et al. ( 1 9 9 2 ) , implemented six focus g r o u p s w i t h 53 parents o f children i n elementary school. One g o a l o f the study w a s t o determine the effectiveness o f f o c u s g r o u p s i n obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n about recruitment o f families f o r p r o g r a m s related t o the p r e v e n t i o n o f mental health p r o b l e m s and alcohol and substance abuse i n children. The study concluded that f o c u s g r o u p s w e r e an efficient and inexpensive m e t h o d o f obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n f o r recruitment and r e t e n t i o n o f families, particularly i n f o r m a t i o n about unique needs and concerns o f specific n e i g h b o u r h o o d s ( L e n g u a et al., 1 9 9 2 ) .  The researchers emphasized the effectiveness o f f o c u s g r o u p s i n enhancing t h e development and i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f c o n n n u n i t y based, f a m i l y focused interventions t h r o u g h addressing the needs o f p o p u l a t i o n sub-groups such as l o w income families ( L e n g u a et al., 1992) . F o r example, this study identified the need f o r the p r o v i s i o n o f child care, t r a n s p o r t a t i o n and a convenient l o c a t i o n p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r single parents and l o w i n c o m e parents. A l s o , l o w income parents expressed a particular need f o r social support from the p r o g r a m T h i s study concluded that f o c u s g r o u p s w e r e an effective m e t h o d t o help identify the specific beliefs and values o f a specific p o p u l a t i o n and thus can p r o v i d e h r f o r m a t i o n needed t o i m p r o v e o r create p r o g r a m s f o r families.  W h i l e the study does n o t m e n t i o n the sub-group o f parents w h o d i d n o t speak E n g l i s h and w e r e , therefore, excluded f o r the m o s t part from b o t h parenting p r o g r a m s and from the f o c u s groups used t o obtain i n f o r m a t i o n about these programs, the study does suggest that f o c u s g r o u p s are effective i n obtaining i n f o r m a t i o n that is useful f o r p r o g r a m p l a n n i n g decisions. The study highlights the need t o consult w i t h v a r i o u s subgroups regarding the effective i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f f a m i l y p r o g r a m s i n their communities. The study also clearly invites f u r t h e r research i n t o the use o f f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h particular subgroups w i t h t h e v i e w t o w a r d s enhancing c o m m u n i t y programs.  A n o t h e r study w h i c h addresses f o c u s g r o u p use w i t h l o w - i n c o m e m i n o r i t y p o p u l a t i o n s is one described b y R o b i n Jarrett ( 1 9 9 3 ) . Jarrett's study describes the i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f t e n f o c u s groups i n a study o f 82 l o w - i n c o m e , A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n w o m e n i n t h e U n i t e d States and concentrates specifically o n the interactional dynamics that characterize b o t h the recruitment process and the g r o u p discussion i t s e l f I n discussing the recruitment process Jarrett asserts that w h i l e generally participants are i n v i t e d t o participate i n f o c u s g r o u p s t h r o u g h a process i n v o l v i n g r a n d o m sampling, she instead d r e w o n personalistic strategies often associated w i t h m o r e intensive qualitative methods because o f the nature o f the study and the characteristics o f the p o p u l a t i o n (Jarrett, 1 9 9 3 ) .  The f o c u s g r o u p discussion described b y Jarrett w a s i n f o r m a l and conversational b u t maintained a data gathering purpose t h r o u g h the use o f a t o p i c a l outline w h i c h w a s flexible enough t o discuss issues i n " t h e language o f the w o m e n " (Jarrett, 1993, p. 1 8 8 ) . Analysis o f  22  the discussion p r o v i d e d insight i n t o the dynamics o f the g r o u p discussion, t h e establishment o f r a p p o r t , the presence o f ' j p e r f o r m i n g , " and the intensive examination o f participants' v i e w p o i n t s . Jarrett says that f o r some w o m e n the focus g r o u p discussion h a d the ' f e e l o f a rap session." I n a d d i t i o n , w i t h the presence o f others, an "audience e f f e c t " frequently occurred. That is, members p e r f o r m e d f o r each other and this p e r f o r m i n g encouraged w o m e n i n the g r o u p s t o discuss issues w i t h great licence (Jarrett, 1993) . Jarrett's description o f this performance aspect o f the f o c u s g r o u p w i t h A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n w o m e n is one example w h i c h illustrates the need f o r f u r t h e r study o f the implications o f language and culture i n f o c u s g r o u p discussions.  W h i l e discussion o f the language used i n f o c u s g r o u p s is n o t available i n t h e literature, use o f language is c o m m o n l y discussed i n ethnographic studies o f specific populations. One such study b y Shirley B r i c e H e a t h ( 1 9 8 3 ) focuses specifically o n the c u l t u r a l aspects o f language use and the role o f language i n school "success." H e a t h ' s w o r k includes extensive ethnographic descriptions o f language use i n i n f o r m a l gatherings o f people i n the A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n w o r k i n g class c o m m u n i t y o f T r a c k t o n and the n e i g h b o u r i n g w h i t e w o r k i n g class c o m m u n i t y o f Roadville. H e a t h documents the presence o f " p e r f o r m a n c e " as a salient aspect o f interaction a m o n g t h e A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n s and the absence o f such p e r f o r m a n c e i n t h e w h i t e c o m m u n i t y . A s w e l l , H e a t h documents the v a r i o u s uses o f storytelling i n b o t h communities. One example cited is the use o f storytelling i n the w h i t e c o m m u n i t y f o r purposes o f teaching m o r a l i t y t o children and the absence o f m o r a l i t y tales i n the A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y . These examples o f use o f language, w h i l e n o t situated i n a f o r m a l f o c u s g r o u p environment,  23  do illustrate the i m p o r t a n c e o f analysis o f language and culture i n f o c u s g r o u p discussions. Gladstone ( 1 9 7 2 ) states:  Language and culture are inexorably i n t e r t w i n e d . Language is at once an o u t c o m e or a result o f the culture as a w h o l e and also a vehicle b y w h i c h the other facets o f the culture are shaped and communicated. (P. 192)  C r i c k ( 1 9 7 6 ) argues that language is n o t o n l y a means o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n b u t also a conceptual organization. C r i c k analyzes the field o f m o d e r n a n t h r o p o l o g y and discusses the impact o f linguistics and a n t h r o p o l o g y o n each other i n developing the idea that language determines p e r c e p t i o n and that language is a symbolic organization w h i c h is u n d e r s t o o d i n t e r m s o f " m e a n i n g " and n o t i n solely structural terms. Others state that there i s a relationship b e t w e e n language and social behaviour ( R o b i n s o n , 1972) and that language reflects the culture o f the speaker and reveals different assumptions, beliefs and values concerning h u m a n and physical reality ( B r i s l i n & Y o s h i d a , 1994; M u n h a l l & Oiler, 1986) . C u l t u r a l concepts such as orientation t o w a r d space and t i m e , social hierarchy, f a m i l y and personal relationships, i n d i v i d u a h s m versus collectivism, w o r k and play are all concepts expressed t h r o u g h language.  Use of Language in Research Processes  A s is evident i n t h e literature, the i n v o l v e m e n t o f language use i n research and evaluation processes is n o t frequently addressed b y researchers. Instead, m o s t research simply o m i t s  24  language as a variable ( K i r k m a n - L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991) . H o w e v e r , there is some research w h i c h addresses the inclusion o f n o n English speakers i n research samples and w o r k s t o w a r d s the development o f processes t o address the particular m e t h o d o l o g i c a l issues that are inherent w h e n w o r k i n g w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking populations. R o b i n s o n ( 1 9 7 2 ) describes a n u m b e r o f systems used t o describe the functions o f language. W h i l e R o b i n s o n describes these systems as inadequate t o describe the functions o f language completely, he classifies the f u n c t i o n s o f language as i n c l u d i n g b u t n o t l i m i t e d t o s h o w i n g agreement, s h o w i n g satisfaction, g i v i n g suggestions, g i v i n g opinions, asking f o r opinions and suggestions, disagreeing, asking f o r help and s h o w i n g antagonism.  M o h a n ( 1 9 8 6 ) also outlines a f r a m e w o r k t o address issues o f language and meaning and t o describe the v a r i o u s structures o f language required f o r the v a r i e t y o f language functions. M o h a n describes the t h i n k i n g processes i n v o l v e d i n c o m p a r i n g and g r o u p i n g o r classifying as w e l l as the cause and effect principle w h i c h includes i n f e r r i n g , p r e d i c t i n g , f o r m u l a t i n g hypotheses and generalizing about cause and effect relationships, and t h e n identifies t h e language structures that are required f o r each o f these language functions. M o h a n illustrates a process o f evaluation and suggests that the m o r e elaborate language structures required f o r evaluating are generally learned later i n the English language acquisition process.  Research o n language acquisition supports this n o t i o n o f sequences o r stages i n the development o f certain structures and the differences between second language learners f r o m diverse cultures is less striking t h a n the similarities ( L i g h t b o w n & Spada, 1993) . F o r  example, learners pass t h r o u g h similar stages i n learning the negative elements, " h o " and " d o n ' t " , and i n learning question f o r m a t i o n . B r i s l i n & Y o s h i d a ( 1 9 9 4 ) , i n a discussion o f language teaching, observes that language learners w h o are n o t confident o f either their language ability o r their c u l t u r a l k n o w l e d g e t e n d t o be quiet and spend their t i m e simply observing. B r i s l i n & Y o s h i d a conclude that this strategy tends t o m a k e the learner invisible t o the host. I n addition, " e v e n w h e n a m o r e advanced stage comes t o dominate i n a learner's speech, conditions o f stress o r c o m p l e x i t y i n a communicative interaction can cause the learner t o ' s l i p ' b a c k t o an earlier stage" ( L i g h t b o w n & Spada, 1993, p. 6 6 ) .  P r o g r a m participants w h o choose t o participate i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m conducted i n languages other t h a n English do so f o r a v a r i e t y o f reasons. W h i l e some participants speak little E n g l i s h , others feel that the level o f English they understand o r speak is n o t adequate t o discuss c o m p l e x and personal issues. Others prefer t o discuss parenting i n their first language w i t h those from t h e i r o w n culture regardless o f their particular l e v e l o f E n g l i s h competency. B r i s l i n ' s ( 1 9 8 1 ) discussion o f studies o f the effects o f language f l u e n c y o n n e w c o m e r s indicates that people w i t h o u t the ability t o speak the host c o u n t r y language l i m i t the interaction t h e y have w i t h members o f the host country. These limitations o f interaction include l i m i t e d i n v o l v e m e n t o f n o n English speaking n e w c o m e r s w i t h p r o g r a m planning and evaluation.  F o r researchers interested i n the opinions o f p r o g r a m participants, i t becomes imperative t o address this l i m i t e d c o m m u n i c a t i o n pattern. E a c h o f the aspects o f evaluation is i m p o r t a n t  26  i n c l u d i n g p l a n n i n g , data collection, data analysis, and r e p o r t i n g , and each o f these processes becomes i n t e r w o v e n w i t h issues o f language, h o w people use w o r d s t o mediate and construct reality, translation and c u l t u r a l sensitivity. I t is i m p o r t a n t that participants express their ideas about the p r o g r a m t h r o u g h the language i n w h i c h they are m o s t able t o participate i n evaluative discourse.  M o h a n and Schwab ( 1 9 9 7 ) describe language as a "resource f o r meaning and c u l t u r a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n " and r e c o m m e n d greater attention t o research i n language learning and the role o f discourse i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l change. I n an address t o the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Conference o n M u l t i c u l t u r a U s m and M i n o r i t y G r o u p s , they p r o v i d e an example o f female E n g l i s h as a second language students w h o are placed i n h i g h school physical education classes even t h o u g h m a n y female i m m i g r a n t s have negative attitudes about P.E. T h e authors suggest that the l i m i t e d ability o f the students t o express feelings and reasons f o r j u d g m e n t s i n E n g l i s h has restricted their effectiveness i n influencing school policy. Students m a y be perceived b y school officials as ' V e n t i n g f e e l i n g s " rather than ' ' m a k i n g a case f o r change." T o enable students t o participate i n the institutional change process, the authors r e c o m m e n d p r o v i d i n g opportunities f o r E S L students that w i l l elicit their attitudes and j u d g m e n t s about P.E. as w e l l as help t h e m t o identify the advantages and disadvantages o f p r o p o s e d solutions.  Evaluative discourse m a y also be difficult f o r first language English speakers. M a r t i n ( 1 9 9 2 ) p r o v i d e s an example o f a student's w r i t t e n response t o a literary w o r k . T h e student uses w o r d s such as " a f r a i d " and " e n j o y e d " t o express personal feelings e v o k e d b y the w o r k b u t  27  fails t o use t h e language o f literary j u d g m e n t s . Therefore, t h e examiner j u d g e d these personal reactions as an inadequate expression o f understanding o f the literary w o r k . T h e examples p r o v i d e d b y M o h a n and Schwab ( 1 9 9 7 ) and M a r t i n ( 1 9 9 4 ) suggest the c o m p l e x i t y o f evaluative discourse including the expression o f attitudes, personal feelings and j u d g m e n t s . T o address this c o m p l e x i t y and t o i n v o l v e n o n - E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants i n evaluative discourse, i t is i m p o r t a n t that participants be g i v e n o p p o r t u n i t i e s t o express themselves i n the language i n w h i c h they can communicate m o s t effectively.  The choice o f u s i n g f o c u s g r o u p s i n participants' first language as the m e t h o d o l o g y f o r the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w a s based on the i n t e n t i o n t o include n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants as stakeholders i n the evaluation process and t o gather i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m t h e m i n their preferred language. There w a s n o need t o determine the level o f E n g l i s h competency o f participants o n any k i n d o f language test o r other measure. W h i l e such measures o f E n g l i s h language competence are relevant t o some situations, t h e y are u n l i k e l y t o p r e d i c t language readiness o r the c o m f o r t level o f individuals t o participate i n English i n a structured conversation such as a focus g r o u p .  28  CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY  The Case Study Approach  The study o f the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s as an evaluation t o o l f o r n o n - E n g l i s h speaking stakeholders is i m p o r t a n t because o f w h a t m a y be learned about the suitabiUty o f f o c u s g r o u p s f o r evaluation purposes w i t h this particular p o p u l a t i o n . A descriptive case study approach w a s selected as the research m e t h o d o l o g y because the specificity o f f o c u s o f the case study makes i t an especially g o o d design f o r p r a c t i c a l p r o b l e m s - f o r questions, situations o r occurrences arising from everyday practice ( M e r r i a m , 1988) . The case study is suitable f o r addressing a specific p h e n o m e n o n w h e r e understanding is sought i n order t o i m p r o v e evaluation practice ( M e r r i a m , 1 9 8 8 ; Stake, 1995; Y i n , 1994) .  M e r r i a m ( 1 9 8 8 ) states that w h i l e the use o f a case study approach is n o t n e w t o the field o f education there is little material w h i c h addresses the actual m e t h o d o l o g y o f case studies. Recent w o r k s b y Y i n ( 1 9 9 4 ) and Stake ( 1 9 9 5 ) have discussed the use o f the case study approach f o r evaluations such as the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m evaluation. Y i n ( 1 9 9 4 ) discusses the use o f the descriptive case study i n evaluation research t o describe or illustrate specific t o p i c s w i t h i n an evaluation context. W i t h i n this context, the case study approach f o r this thesis w a s used t o explore the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h p r o g r a m participants w h o d i d n o t speak English. This approach enabled the researcher t o gain an i n - d e p t h understanding o f  29  the c o m p l e x i t y o f i n f o r m a t i o n available t h r o u g h the f o c u s g r o u p s c o n d u c t e d i n participants' first language. Stake ( 1 9 9 5 ) p o i n t s o u t that the k n o w l e d g e gained t h r o u g h case studies can be concrete and c o n t e x t u a l and can contribute t o an understanding o f specific aspects o f p r o g r a m s b e i n g evaluated. I n the study o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m , the case study approach f o r m e d the basis o f understanding the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s i n obtaining evaluative i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m n o n - E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants. M e r r i a m ( 1 9 8 8 ) suggests that descriptive case studies are u s e f u l i n presenting i n f o r m a t i o n about areas o f education w h e r e little research has been conducted, that innovative p r o g r a m s and practices are o f t e n the f o c u s o f descriptive case studies i n education and that such studies can f o r m a base f o r f u t u r e comparison and t h e o r y building.  Y i n ( 1 9 9 4 ) identifies five different applications f o r case studies i n evaluation research. These include explaining causal links i n real-life situations that are t o o c o m p l e x f o r survey or experimental strategies, describing an intervention and the real-life context i n w h i c h i t occurred, illustrating certain t o p i c s w i t h i n an evaluation f r o m a j o u r n a l i s t i c perspective, exploring situations w h e r e the intervention being evaluated has n o clear, single set o f outcomes, and a m e t a - e v a l u a t i o n - a study across evaluation studies. T h e case study undertaken f o r this thesis w o u l d m o s t clearly f a l l i n the second category described b y Y i n , w h i c h is a description o f an intervention. The intervention being described is the six f o c u s groups that w e r e c o n d u c t e d w i t h recent n o n - E n g l i s h speaking participants o f the H e a l t h Canada parenting p r o g r a m , N o b o d y ' s Perfect. This case study describes six f o c u s 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 w a s t o develop a set o f questions that w o u l d encourage the discussion r e q u i r e d t o elicit i n f o r m a t i o n 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 w e r e explored:  1.  W h y d i d y o u choose t o participate i n N o b o d y ' s Perfect?  2.  W h a t d i d y o u like about the p r o g r a m ?  3.  W h a t d i d y o u learn?  4.  D i d the leader o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m seem m o r e l i k e a teacher o r a facilitator?  5.  D i d the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m seem appropriate t o y o u r culture?  6.  H o w w e r e the N o b o d y ' s Perfect b o o k s useful t o y o u and w h a t suggestions do y o u have for improvement?  7.  W h a t ideas do y o u have f o r i m p r o v i n g the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m ?  Focus g r o u p i n t e r v i e w s cannot be pre-tested i n the manner used b y m a i l o u t o r telephone surveys w h e r e some people f r o m the intended audience are selected f o r a p i l o t test. F o r f o c u s g r o u p s the process o f detennining appropriate questions must consider a range o f factors such as the i n f o r m a t i o n required, the characteristics o f the participants and the i n t e r a c t i o n b e t w e e n participants and the facilitator ( K r u e g e r , 1994, p. 6 8 ) . A c c o r d i n g l y , the f o c u s g r o u p questions w e r e r e v i e w e d b y p r o g r a m staff familiar w i t h b o t h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and the evaluation goals. I t w a s a c k n o w l e d g e d that the questions c o u l d n o t be f i x e d , as t h e y w o u l d be i n a conventional survey f o r example, b u t , rather, w o u l d evolve d u r i n g the g r o u p process. I t w a s the responsibility o f the f o c u s g r o u p facilitator t o encourage g r o u p process i n such a w a y  32  that participants w o u l d feel c o m f o r t a b l e i n sharing their experiences and o p i n i o n s about t h e p r o g r a m . Facilitators w o u l d b e g i n w i t h the fixed set o f questions and w o u l d also be ready t o alter the questions as required t o elicit the desired i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m the g r o u p .  Focus Group Facilitators  The i m p o r t a n c e o f the f o c u s g r o u p facilitator i n the collection o f data is p a r a m o u n t (Basch, 1987; K r u e g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1993) . Focus g r o u p s p r o v i d e an environment w h e r e open discussion is encouraged and n u r t u r e d , b u t i t is the facilitator w h o ensures a focused discussion ( K r u e g e r , 1994) . T h e data are the result o f the interaction b e t w e e n and amongst the facilitator and g r o u p participants ( S t e w a r t & Shamdasani, 1 9 9 0 ) . M o s t o f the literature concerning f o c u s g r o u p s and the collection o f qualitative data suggests an advantage i n h a v i n g the researcher moderate the g r o u p directly ( M e r r i a m , 1988) . A f t e r all, the researcher is m o s t familiar w i t h the research t o p i c and w i t h the research questions. H o w e v e r , i n this case study, w h e r e f o c u s g r o u p s w e r e t o be conducted i n several different languages, i t w a s necessary that the English speaking researcher w o r k w i t h bilingual, b i c u l t u r a l facilitators from several language groups. The facilitators became k e y players i n the f o c u s g r o u p process, strengthening the process b y addressing a v a r i e t y o f cultural perspectives ( B e r r i e n , 1967; B o r n s t e i n , TaL & T a m i s - L e M o n d a , 1 9 9 1 ; Slaughter, 1 9 9 1 ) . F o r the purpose o f the implementation o f the f o c u s g r o u p discussion these individuals t o o k o n a "co-researcher f u n c t i o n " o r acted as w h a t Pomerleau, M a l c u i t and Sabatier ( 1 9 9 1 ) call "co-linguistic interviewers."  33  The literature addresses the contributions that can be made b y researchers w o r k i n g together i n v a r i o u s roles. A n d e r s o n ( 1 9 9 0 ) suggested that researchers f r o m diverse cultures should be i n v o l v e d t o assist i n explaining the research t o participants, i n obtaining i n f o r m e d consent and i n interpreting research results. B o r n s t e i n et al ( 1 9 9 1 ) , identified benefits f r o m u s i n g " c u l t u r a l n a t i v e s " t o m a k e observations. K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 4 ) says that such persons m a y have skills, connections, energy, and ideas that can enhance the p o t e n t i a l o f the study. H e asserts that w h e n the facilitator is t r u s t e d and the study is considered acceptable t o l o c a l participants, the f o c u s g r o u p can be c o n d u c t e d i n a v a r i e t y o f successful ways. F o r the f o c u s g r o u p s implemented i n this evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m , bilingual, b i c u l t u r a l f o c u s g r o u p facilitators p r o v i d e d t h e mechanism b y w h i c h the voices o f n o n E n g l i s h speaking f o c u s g r o u p participants c o u l d be heard b y the researcher.  Successful selection o f f o c u s g r o u p facilitators w a s largely the result o f the enthusiasm w i t h w h i c h i n v o l v e m e n t o f n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants i n the evaluation w a s w e l c o m e d b y agency s t a f f and p r o g r a m participants. Participants w e r e pleased t o have t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o offer their v i e w s o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w h i c h h a d been p o p u l a r w i t h i n their c u l t u r a l communities since 1989. B o t h agency staff and p r o g r a m participants w e l c o m e d the chance t o raise issues specific t o their particular experiences w i t h N o b o d y ' s Perfect i n languages other t h a n English.  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 carefieldand 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 N o b o d y ' 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. T o offset this, Vietnamese and Punjabi speaking focus group participants were selected from a number o f different N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups which had been conducted in those languages. However, there is no way to k n o w 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 N o b o d y ' 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 o f 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 g r o u p s specifically t o couples. Therefore, this research i n c l u d e d t w o f o c u s groups f o r Spanish speakers, one f o r parents f r o m "couples o n l y " N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups and one f o r parents f r o m other " m i x e d " N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups.  The planning process b e t w e e n the researcher and the Vietnamese facilitator also highHghted a c u l t u r a l issue. A l t h o u g h only one i n d i v i d u a l h a d been selected f o r the f a c i l i t a t i o n r o l e , w h e n the researcher arrived at the agreed u p o n meeting place, t w o w o m e n w e r e present. One o f the w o m e n w a s the facilitator p r e v i o u s l y identified i n the selection process and the other w a s a trained N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m facilitator and colleague o f the first w o m a n . T h e t w o w o m e n explained that they intended t o co-facilitate the f o c u s g r o u p as they h a d done i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups. W h i l e co-facilitation o f focus g r o u p s h a d n o t been i n t h e research plan, there seemed n o reason t o oppose the idea. Further consultation w i t h knowledgeable professionals p r o v i d e d the c u l t u r a l context f o r this occurrence. Because w e h a d approached the facilitator w h o w a s somewhat less experienced t h a n the other, she w a s obliged t o invite the other facilitator t o w o r k w i t h her. This action w o u l d maintain the " b a l a n c e " b e t w e e n the t w o facilitators i n the eyes o f their c o m m u n i t y and b e t w e e n the facilitators and the researcher.  A f t e r the discussions b e t w e e n the researcher and the f o c u s g r o u p facilitators, the f o c u s g r o u p questions w e r e translated b y each facilitator and a c o p y o f the translation g i v e n t o the researcher. I t w a s the role o f the facilitator t o facilitate the g r o u p process i n such a w a y that participants w o u l d be i n v i t e d and encouraged t o share their responses t o the t o p i c s outlined i n  38  the focus g r o u p questions. T h e facilitator w o u l d ask the predetermined questions i n w a y s that w o u l d elicit the i n f o r m a t i o n required f o r the research.  One issue frequently discussed i n the literature pertaining t o cross c u l t u r a l research is the comparability o f research instruments ( B e r r i e n , 1967) and the equivalence o f measurement p r i m a r i l y related t o the equivalence o f v a r i o u s types o f measures used i n p s y c h o l o g i c a l tests ( A d l e r , 1977; B o r n s t e i n et aL 1 9 9 1 ; H u i & Triandis, 1983) . W h i l e these issues are clearly i m p o r t a n t f o r quantitative research methods, t h e y are n o t o f p r i m a r y i m p o r t a n c e i n the analysis o f the qualitative data obtained from the f o c u s groups i n this study. A s f o c u s g r o u p s are discussions a m o n g g r o u p s o f people and as these discussions v a r y from g r o u p t o g r o u p as w e l l as from culture t o culture, the comparability o f research instruments and the equivalence o f measurement are n o t central m e t h o d o l o g i c a l issues. Rather, the translation process o f the focus g r o u p questions and t h e translation o f t h e data f o r the E n g l i s h speaking researcher are o f p r i m a r y i m p o r t a n c e ( B r i s l i n , 1976) .  Focus Group Composition  F o r m e r N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m participants w e r e i n v i t e d t o participate i n one o f six f o c u s groups according t o their preferred language. T w o f o c u s g r o u p s i n v o l v e d Cantonese speaking parents w h o h a d participated i n N o b o d y ' s Perfect i n Cantonese and t w o other f o c u s g r o u p s i n v o l v e d Spanish speaking parents from N o b o d y ' s Perfect g r o u p s c o n d u c t e d i n Spanish. A  fifth f o c u s g r o u p i n v o l v e d Punjabi speaking parents and the sixth f o c u s g r o u p w a s conducted i n Vietnamese. I t w a s decided t o h o l d t w o g r o u p s i n Chinese and Spanish because o f the higher enrollment i n N o b o d y ' s Perfect g r o u p s offered i n these t w o languages as compared w i t h Punjabi o r Vietnamese groups.  The c o m p o s i t i o n o f f o c u s g r o u p s is frequently discussed i n the literature ( S t e w a r t & Shamdasani, 1990; M o r g a n , 1993; K r u e g e r , 1994; M o r g a n , 1997; V a u g h n , S c h u m m , & Sinagub, 1 9 9 6 ) . This discussion focuses p r i m a r i l y o n the "strangers versus acquaintances" c o m p o s i t i o n and heterogeneous versus h o m o g e n e o u s c o m p o s i t i o n . Generally, t h e accepted guidelines f a v o u r g r o u p s composed o f " h o m o g e n e o u s strangers" and several authors offer suggestions as t o h o w t o achieve this composition. F o r example, i n a recent w o r k , M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) discusses the recruitment o f strangers and describes a process o f segmentation i n w h i c h p o t e n t i a l participants are matched according t o specific categories such as gender, age, o r race. H e suggests that such h o m o g e n e i t y is sought t o p r o m o t e free f l o w i n g conversation among people w h o feel comfortable w i t h one another.  A t the same t i m e , M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) posits that the n o t i o n that focus g r o u p s must consist o f strangers is a m y t h . Instead, b o t h M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) and M o r g a n and K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 3 ) argue f o r a k i n d o f realism w h e r e researchers must account f o r " r e a l l i f e " situations i n w h i c h acquaintanceship i n naturally o c c u r r i n g g r o u p s is unavoidable and o f t e n beneficial t o the investigation. A l s o , b o t h M o r g a n and K r u e g e r a c k n o w l e d g e that there are m a n y examples o f groups w h i c h seem t o " w o r k " perfectly w e l l w i t h m i x e d genders, o r races, o r 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  participate i n qualitative field studies because o f their relationship w i t h the researcher, (Jarrett, 1993) h o w e v e r , individuals participated i n this study because o f their relationship w i t h agency staff o r the N o b o d y ' s Perfect g r o u p facilitator w h o i n v i t e d t h e m t o attend the f o c u s group. E a c h p o t e n t i a l participant w a s contacted b y agency staff o r g r o u p facilitator o n the telephone o r i n p e r s o n and i n v i t e d t o be a part o f the focus group. A l l discussions regarding the purpose o f the g r o u p , expectations o f the participants and logistic considerations w e r e c o n d u c t e d i n the i n d i v i d u a l ' s first language. These initial contacts b y agency staff and facilitators p r o d u c e d considerable interest i n p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the focus g r o u p s resulting i n 23 people attending the t w o Chinese language g r o u p s ( 1 2 i n one g r o u p and 11 i n the other g r o u p ) , 8 attending the Punjabi language g r o u p , 22 attending the t w o Spanish language g r o u p s ( 1 1 i n each g r o u p ) and 13 attending the Vietnamese language g r o u p . I n summary, 66 people attended the 6 t w o h o u r f o c u s groups.  Permission To Participate  I t is required that participants i n any research study sign a document agreeing t o participate and indicating that t h e y understand the nature o f the study as w e l l as their r i g h t s and responsibilities ( A n d e r s o n , 1 9 9 0 ) . Focus g r o u p participants w e r e i n v i t e d t o participate i n an evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m (see A p p e n d i x ) . I n consideration o f the need f o r participants t o p r o v i d e i n f o r m e d w r i t t e n consent, f o c u s g r o u p facilitators p r o v i d e d an oral w o r d - f o r - w o r d translation o f the English document prepared b y the researcher and then answered questions f r o m participants as needed. A f t e r this process, all participants signed the  42  document, retained a c o p y and gave one c o p y t o the researcher. Ideally, this document w o u l d have been translated i n t o each o f the participants' first language. H o w e v e r , b u d g e t implications p r e c l u d e d such translation.  D a t a p r o d u c e d i n the context o f the p r o g r a m evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m included transcripts o f the six f o c u s g r o u p s conducted w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants ( R i t c h & M c L a r e n , 1994) . The researcher conducted a secondary analysis o f these transcripts t o study t h e u t i l i t y o f these f o c u s g r o u p s t o p r o d u c e n e w and u s e f u l i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers. A s T h o r n e ( 1 9 9 4 , ) suggests, "analytic expansion, i n w h i c h the researcher makes f u r t h e r use o f his or her o w n o r i g i n a l database t o answer questions at the next level o f analysis or t o ask n e w questions" ( p . 2 6 6 ) is an appropriate rationale f o r the use o f secondary analysis o f qualitative 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 t o enable t h e m t o participate i n the f o c u s groups. These supports i n c l u d e d convenient locations and t i m e o f day and concurrent o n site child care. T h e six f o c u s g r o u p s w e r e held i n locations determined t o be the m o s t comfortable and accessible f o r participants and at times most convenient f o r parents o f y o u n g children. Past experience w i t h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m indicated that m a n y participants w e r e reluctant t o t r a v e l outside o f their o w n  43  neighbourhoods. O f t e n people w h o relied o n public t r a n s p o r t a t i o n d i d n o t have t h e required bus fare and so f o r all six f o c u s groups, bus fare w a s p r o v i d e d as needed.  Caregivers f o r participants' children w e r e h i r e d from t h e available list o f childminders w h o h a d p r o v i d e d care t o children at N o b o d y ' s Perfect groups. This meant that t h e parents and children w e r e familiar w i t h t h e caregivers and parents felt assured that t h e i r children w e r e w e l l cared f o r d u r i n g the f o c u s g r o u p session. I n all cases, at least one o f the cMchninders spoke the language o f t h e parents. This w a s crucial t o facilitate t h e s m o o t h t r a n s i t i o n o f parents leaving their children t o participate i n t h e f o c u s g r o u p s and t o ensure t h e c o m f o r t o f the children i n t h e child care setting.  Participants w e r e offered an h o n o r a r i a o f $25.00 as one w a y o f expressing t h e value placed b y the researcher and t h e sponsoring agencies o n participants' time. These h o n o r a r i a w e r e distributed at t h e c o m p l e t i o n o f each f o c u s g r o u p session.  Conducting the Focus Groups  The focus g r o u p facilitators w e r e responsible f o r p r o m o t i n g the g r o u p discussion necessary t o respond t o t h e t o p i c s outlined i n t h e f o c u s g r o u p questions. T h e r o l e o f the researcher d u r i n g the f o c u s g r o u p w a s p r i m a r i l y t o operate the tape recorder and t o p r o v i d e other assistance t o the facilitator. A t t h e beginning o f each o f the six f o c u s groups, t h e researcher w a s i n t r o d u c e d t o t h e g r o u p as t h e i n d i v i d u a l w h o w a s responsible f o r the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect  44  P r o g r a m . D u r i n g the f o c u s g r o u p process, the researcher observed t h e g r o u p b u t n o attempt w a s made t o document the process itself. A t the conclusion o f each f o c u s g r o u p , t h e researcher and the facilitator discussed the g r o u p process i n r e l a t i o n t o h o w w e l l the focus g r o u p questions h a d elicited evaluative comments f r o m participants.  Recording, Transcription and Translation Of Focus Group Data  E a c h f o c u s g r o u p w a s audio t a p e d u s i n g a tape recorder and a P Z M m u l t i - d i r e c t i o n a l m i c r o p h o n e specifically designed f o r use i n f o c u s groups. This equipment p r o d u c e d a clearly audible tape o f the f o c u s g r o u p discussion. W r i t t e n transcripts o f the audio tape w e r e prepared b y the f o c u s g r o u p facilitators, all o f w h o m h a d p r e v i o u s experience p r e p a r i n g transcripts. These transcripts w e r e translated i n t o E n g l i s h b y experienced b i c u l t u r a l translators w i t h k n o w l e d g e o f the area o f parenting and f a m i l y issues (Casagrande, 1 9 5 4 ; Slaughter, 1991). The process f o r the translation o f the f o c u s g r o u p transcripts w a s a crucially i m p o r t a n t aspect o f this evaluation because the analysis o f participants' responses w a s based o n the English translation o f the transcripts prepared f r o m the audio taped f o c u s g r o u p sessions.  W h i l e K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 4 ) identifies that transcript-based analysis o f f o c u s g r o u p s is extraordinarily s l o w and cumbersome, t h e element o f translation o f data f r o m one language t o another necessitated a reliance o n accurate transcripts. A l s o , as the discussion i n f o c u s g r o u p s depends heavily o n the facilitator and since there is some uncertainty i n the f i e l d as t o  45  standards w h i c h should apply t o interpretation o f qualitative data, i t is i m p o r t a n t t o r e c o r d the g r o u p and t o prepare transcripts that can be analyzed and reanalyzed (Basch, 1987) .  One o f the p r i m a r y issues related t o c o n d u c t i n g focus g r o u p s i n languages other t h a n English is the requirement f o r accurate translations o f f o c u s g r o u p discussions. B r i s l i n ( 1 9 7 6 ) , w h o s e w o r k has been i n the area o f the use o f translation as a research t o o l i n cross-cultural studies, defines translation as:  The general t e r m referring t o the transfer o f t h o u g h t s and ideas f r o m one language t o another language w h e t h e r the languages are i n w r i t t e n o r o r a l f o r m ; w h e t h e r the languages have established orthographies or do n o t have such standardization; o r w h e t h e r one o r b o t h languages are based o n signs, as w i t h sign languages o f the deaf. (P-1)  One technique o f t e n described as effective t o w a r d s ensuring accurate translation is a technique called " b a c k translation". T h i s technique involves t w o b i l i n g u a l i n d i v i d u a l s - o n e w h o translates f r o m t h e source t o t h e target language and t h e other w h o translates f r o m t h e target language b a c k t o the source language ( B r i s l i n , 1 9 7 0 ) . T h e authors suggest the f o l l o w i n g process f o r b a c k translation: the investigator prepares the i n t e r v i e w schedule and t w o translators w o r k o n it, each translating h a l f into the target language. T h e n each takes the other's w o r k and translates i t b a c k t o English. T h e researcher t h e n has t w o versions o f the English t e x t and t h r o u g h t h e m a t r i a n g u l a t i o n o n t o the target language. This process highUghts any discrepancies i n the translation. Regarding back translation, W e r n e r and  46  Campbell ( 1 9 7 0 ) suggest that this technique is v e r y useful w h e n the researcher is i n t e r v i e w i n g t h r o u g h an interpreter and w h e n the researcher k n o w s little o f t h e target language. The researcher is i n a "helpless" situation and the use o f back translation offers some degree o f discipline. Others suggest that w h i l e b a c k translation usually u n c o v e r s considerable difficulties i n the translated material, researchers should v i e w this as the strength o f the t e c h n i q u e - i t c o n f r o n t s the researcher w i t h the difficulties o f researching i n contexts w h e r e the researcher is n o t familiar w i t h the target language (Sinaiko & B r i s l i n , 1973; W e r n e r & Campbell, 1970) . B a c k translation is also suggested as a m e t h o d b y w h i c h t h e researcher m a y assess the competency o f the translators ( W e r n e r & Campbell, 1970) . Other techniques described f o r translation include the use o f bilingual individuals, pretesting t o complement back translation and the use o f n u m e r o u s translators t o arrive at the best possible translation ( E r v i n & B o w e r , 1953; Prince & M o m b o u r , 1967) . I n these processes, i f there is consensus o r a h i g h l e v e l o f agreement o n a single version, one m i g h t assume that i t is an accurate translation. "Consensus is, after all, the ultimate arbiter o f linguistic u s a g e " (Casagrande, 1954, p. 3 3 9 ) .  The researcher w o r k e d w i t h c o m m u n i t y agencies t o identify translators i n each o f the f o c u s group languages w i t h translation experience i n the content area o f f a m i l y issues. W h i l e the researcher recognized the strengths o f back translation, and w h i l e this technique w o u l d have made a c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the accuracy o f the translations, b a c k translation w a s n o t conducted p r i m a r i l y due t o its cost implications. Translation b y m o r e than one translator w a s also considered b u t n o t used because o f budgetary restrictions.  47  B o t h the inherent complexities o f language w h i c h describes diverse p a r e n t i n g approaches and practices and the n u m b e r o f languages being translated i n t o E n g l i s h w e r e significant factors i n the selection o f a translation process f o r the f o c u s g r o u p s described i n this study. C o m m u n i t y groups i n v o l v e d i n the translation o f p r i n t materials related t o issues o f f a m i l y , child development and child care have identified that translators' f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h particular concepts and t e r m s used i n these content areas is as i m p o r t a n t as accuracy o f the language. T h i s k n o w l e d g e and understanding is k n o w n t o contribute t o greater accuracy and m o r e m e a n i n g f u l translations. This w a s the p r i m a r y consideration i n the selection o f a translation process f o r f o c u s g r o u p transcripts. W h e r e transcripts contained sentences w h i c h w e r e n o t g r a m m a t i c a l i n E n g l i s h , these w e r e b r o u g h t i n t o standard English f o r clarity and easy reading. There seemed n o advantage t o using f l a w e d English w h i c h resulted from a l i m i t a t i o n o f the translation and n o t a l i m i t a t i o n o f the f o c u s g r o u p participants.  48  CHAPTER FOUR ANALYSIS O F FOCUS GROUPS  Understanding Participants' Response to the Nobody's Perfect Program  T h e p r e f e r r e d approach f o r the analysis o f data obtained t h r o u g h a case study is t o interpret the findings i n l i g h t o f the t h e o r y 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 o r i g i n a l objectives and research questions u p o n w h i c h the case study w a s designed ( Y i n , 1994) . F o r the purpose o f the research described i n this thesis i t w a s established that t h e literature described f o c u s g r o u p s as an effective t o o l t o i n v o l v e participants as stakeholders and t o obtain considerable i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m f o c u s g r o u p participants r e g a r d i n g their experience. I t w a s also established that w h i l e t h e literature encouraged researchers t o use f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h " s p e c i a l " p o p u l a t i o n s , this m e t h o d h a d n o t been used w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speakers. Th e analysis o f the f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants implemented f o r this study examined the extent t o w h i c h the discussion p r o d u c e d i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers w h i c h w a s n o t p r e v i o usl y k n o w n and w h i c h w a s u s e f u l f o r p r o g r a m evaluation.  F o c u s g r o u p transcripts translated i n t o E n g l i s h w e r e analyzed using a descriptive approach f o r organizing results based o n the set o f f o c u s g r o u p questions used i n each o f the f o c u s g r o u p s ( Y i n , 1994) . T h e p r i m a r y purpose o f t h i s approach w a s t o organize t h e responses o f t h e participants t o the structured set o f questions. T h e n , an analysis g r i d w a s developed t o  49  systematically code the f o c u s g r o u p participants' responses t o each o f the f o c u s g r o u p questions ( K n o d e L 1 9 9 3 ) . T w o categories w e r e developed t o enable the researcher t o determine the substantiveness o f participants' responses t o the questions. These categories served as an heuristic device t o analyze and describe the c o m p l e x i t y o f responses f r o m f o c u s g r o u p participants and t o ' i l l u m i n a t e the reader's understanding o f the p h e n o m e n o n under s t u d y " ( M e r r i a m , 1988, p. 1 3 ) . Transcripts w e r e r e v i e w e d and each statement coded as either category one, " s i m p l e responses" o r category t w o , "elaborate responses." Simple responses w e r e those w h e r e the responses p r o v i d e d basic i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h little o r n o detail. Elaborate responses w e r e those w h e r e participants p r o v i d e d enhanced descriptions, specific details o r c o m p l e x explanations.  F o r the purposes o f this thesis, n o attempt w a s made t o systematically analyze either similarities o r differences b e t w e e n the v a r i o u s f o c u s g r o u p s o r language groups. M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) suggests that w h e n a study design involves several g r o u p s w h i c h are h i g h l y segmented i n t h e i r c o m p o s i t i o n , t h e analysis process o f t e n invites t h e researcher t o m a k e comparisons between the v a r i o u s groups. K n o d e l ( 1 9 9 3 ) suggests, h o w e v e r , that i n spite o f this i n v i t a t i o n , researchers are advised t o concentrate o n d r a w i n g conclusions based o n similarities rather than those based o n differences. H e suggests that w h e n similar v i e w s are expressed b y v a r i o u s groups, i t is l i k e l y that these represent shared v i e w s and i t m a y be difficult t o distinguish differences a m o n g g r o u p s that m a y n o t be attributable t o factors such as the w a y the g r o u p w a s facilitated, particular g r o u p dynamics o r personalities o f the i n d i v i d u a l participants. I n spite o f t h i s caution, analysis o f the f o c u s g r o u p s done f o r this thesis indicates that there are  50  certain c u l t u r a l factors w h i c h m a y influence the implementation and results o f f o c u s g r o u p s and fiuther research i n this area is strongly advised.  A s c o u l d be expected i n any f o c u s g r o u p , there w e r e b o t h simple and elaborate responses t o each question. H o w e v e r , the vast m a j o r i t y o f responses i n these f o c u s g r o u p s p r o v i d e d i m p o r t a n t and relevant i n f o r m a t i o n that w a s p r e v i o u s l y u n k n o w n t o p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers. These responses p r o v i d e d m u c h insight i n t o the attitudes, perceptions and opinions o f participants ( K r u e g e r , 1994) and p e r m i t t e d the study o f selected issues i n depth and detail ( P a t t o n , 1 9 9 0 ) . This research c o n f i r m e d anecdotal r e p o r t s f r o m those w o r k i n g i n p r o g r a m s w i t h l i m i t e d English speaking participants that w h i l e participants w i l l often sit silently d u r i n g discussions conducted i n English, these same individuals w i l l enthusiastically offer extensive feedback w h e n they have opportunities t o discuss t h e i r experiences using their first language.  The findings r e g a r d i n g the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m that resulted f r o m analysis o f t h e f o c u s groups discussions i n languages other than English substantiate the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s f o r purposes o f p r o g r a m evaluation. N o n e o f the individuals participating i n these f o c u s g r o u p s w o u l d have been able t o p r o v i d e such i n - d e p f h iriforrnation i n English. I n a d d i t i o n , the f o c u s group process suggests that the secure setting o f g r o u p discussion m v o r v i n g participants w h o w e r e familiar w i t h one another c o n t r i b u t e d t o the u n c o v e r i n g o f i m p o r t a n t i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers. The remainder o f this chapter describes the extent t o  51  w h i c h participants p r o v i d e d substantive responses t o f o c u s g r o u p questions and suggests w a y s that the discussion process i t s e l f contributes t o particpants' responses.  Why Did You Choose To Participate In Nobody's Perfect?  W h e n f o c u s g r o u p participants w e r e asked t o discuss w h y t h e y h a d chosen t o participate i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m , they offered a v a r i e t y o f explanations. O f the 4 9 separate responses t o this question 14 w e r e coded as category one w h i l e 35 responses w e r e considered " e l a b o r a t e " and coded as category t w o . Elaborate responses f r o m E n g l i s h as a Second Language parents are rare w h e n feedback is i n v i t e d i n E n g l i s h , h o w e v e r , w h e n given opportunities t o express opinions i n their first language, these parents p r o v i d e d valuable i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers as t o their reasons f o r participating i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m  I n category one responses, parents briefly described their reasons f o r attending the p r o g r a m T y p i c a l l y these parents r e p o r t e d that they attended because they w a n t e d t o learn m o r e about parenting and the p r o g r a m w a s available i n their first language. A s basic as these responses are, i t is l i k e l y that t h e y p r o v i d e d m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n than these parents c o u l d have p r o v i d e d i n English. This c o n f i r m e d f o r planners and p o l i c y makers the i m p o r t a n c e o f p r o v i d i n g p r o g r a m s i n parents' first languages. The f o l l o w i n g are t y p i c a l o f category one responses t o 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.  T y p i c a l category t w o responses contrast sharply w i t h the p r e v i o u s examples i n t e r m s o f the c o m p l e x i t y o f the ideas expressed and the richness o f i n f o r m a t i o n given. These responses describe parents' awareness o f the need t o understand Canadian culture t o better understand the c u l t u r a l influences faced b y their children. P r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers w e r e p r o v i d e d w i t h i n f o r m a t i o n w h i c h indicated the concern parents h a d f o r the successful i n t e g r a t i o n o f t h e i r f a m i l y i n t o Canadian culture. Previously, some p r o g r a m planners h a d suggested that parents d i d n o t w a n t t o be influenced b y W e s t e r n p a r e n t i n g practices and that distinct parenting p r o g r a m s f o r diverse c u l t u r a l g r o u p s needed t o be developed. A s each parent i n the f o c u s g r o u p s discussed their concerns, others f o l l o w e d w i t h similarly elaborate descriptions o f their o w n concerns. T h e f o l l o w i n g p r o v i d e s examples o f the richness o f the discussion related t o t h i s t o p i c :  53  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' c o m p l e x statements helped p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y m a k e r s t o understand m o r e f u l l y the m o t i v a t i o n s and personal goals o f p r o g r a m participants. A l t h o u g h , as i n the first g r o u p , the p r i m a r y m o t i v a t i o n expressed w a s a desire t o learn about p a r e n t i n g , these respondents expanded u p o n this basic idea t o offer reflections o f their particular challenges related t o parenting i n w e s t e r n culture. These parents identified an intense desire t o guide their children appropriately i n a culture w h i c h they themselves d i d n o t f u l l y understand. T h i s w a s n e w i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners w h o p r e v i o u s l y h a d been u n a w a r e o f the degree t o w h i c h i m m i g r a n t parents felt i t i m p o r t a n t t o learn " n e w w a y s " i n order t o feel successful i n parenting i n a n e w environment. This expanded understanding o f the settlement process l e d t o the decision n o t t o p r o c e e d t o develop other parenting p r o g r a m s f o r n e w c o m e r parents.  55  Rather, p r o g r a m planners u n d e r s t o o d the need t o p r o m o t e discussion related t o parenting 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 T h e expression o f the c o m p l e x i t y o f the settlement process and the extensive i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e d t h r o u g h the f o c u s g r o u p s w a s possible because the discussion w a s i n parents' first language and i n v o l v e d a discussion process i n w h i c h parents felt comfortable t o discuss their struggles i n the n e w culture.  What Did  You Like About  The Nobody's  Perfect  Program?  There w e r e a t o t a l o f 36 responses f r o m parents t o this question. N e a r l y 9 0 % o f these w e r e category t w o elaborate responses. I n all o f t h e f o c u s groups, t h i s question seemed t o p r o m p t parents t o discuss benefits they h a d derived from the p r o g r a m and t o some extent t h e structural elements o f the p r o g r a m i t s e l f including the p r o v i s i o n o f on-site c h i l d care, p r o g r a m b o o k s f o r each participant and identification b y parents o f f a v o u r i t e t o p i c s o f discussion. F o r the m o s t p a r t , h o w e v e r , parents' comments addressed the benefits derived from the p r o g r a m as w e l l as specific i n f o r m a t i o n parents h a d learned i n the p r o g r a m that i m p r o v e d their parenting.  Discussion vvithin the context o f each o f the f o c u s g r o u p s p r o d u c e d i n f o r m a t i o n about a range o f topics. I n one g r o u p most o f the participants expressed a personal reaction t o the p r o g r a m facilitator. W h e n one participant expressed a dislike f o r the facilitation style o f the mdfviduaL each o f the other participants expressed a personal reaction t o the facilitator, some positive  and some negative. A s w e l l , i n response t o the question regarding w h a t t h e y l i k e d about the p r o g r a m , each o f the participants c o m m e n t e d o n aspects o f the p r o g r a m such as the sharing o f i n f o r m a t i o n a m o n g participants and the reduced sense o f isolation as a family. I n another g r o u p , w h e n one i n d i v i d u a l m e n t i o n e d l i k i n g the visit from the Public H e a l t h N u r s e and the discussion about children's health, there f o l l o w e d a discussion i n the f o c u s g r o u p about the positive and negative aspects o f i n v i t i n g "professionals" t o 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 t h e facilitator i n the p r o g r a m w h i c h w a s actually a later planned question i n the f o c u s g r o u p process. Because parents w e r e c o m f o r t a b l e i n their spoken language, the discussion c o u l d develop naturally w i t h participants responding b o t h t o the questions asked b y t h e f a c i l i t a t o r and t o comments made b y f o c u s g r o u p participants.  I n another g r o u p the first respondent mentioned the h e l p f u l sharing o f i n f o r m a t i o n a m o n g first-time  mothers. Subsequently, each o f the other participants addressed the aspect o f  sharing i n f o r m a t i o n a m o n g g r o u p members. I n this g r o u p a simple statement made b y one participant regarding shared i n f o r m a t i o n w a s f o l l o w e d 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 f o l l o w i n g comments from parents are examples o f elaborate statements w h i c h indicated that the p r o g r a m w a s indeed successful i n p r o m o t i n g the development o f such support n e t w o r k s :  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 Ijoined 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 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 themfromdanger 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. Ifeel more relaxed.  58  These discussions i n parents' first languages a l l o w e d p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers t o gain insights i n t o aspects o f the p r o g r a m w h i c h w e r e most appreciated b y p r o g r a m participants. M o r e i m p o r t a n t l y , they also obtained detailed descriptions o f t h e benefits derived f r o m the g r o u p dynamics and f r o m sharing experiences w i t h other parents. Discussions w e r e characterized b y the ' b u i l d i n g ' ' o f the conversation w h i c h is a h a l l m a r k o f f o c u s g r o u p discussions ( K r u e g e r , 1 9 9 4 ; M o r g a n , 1993; M o r g a n , 1 9 9 7 ) . W i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f the f o c u s group participants seemed t o be honest about the stresses t h e y h a d been experiencing vvithin t h e i r families and t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m h a d m a d e t o t h e i r well-being. T h e y n o t e d the sense o f isolation w i t h i n their families and their communities and indicated that participation i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m h a d helped reduce some o f that isolation. P r o g r a m planners learned the extent t o w h i c h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w a s achieving its g o a l o f buttding self-help and m u t u a l support n e t w o r k s a m o n g n o n English speaking participants.  What Did You Learn From The Nobody's Perfect Program?  Responses t o t h i s question enabled p r o g r a m planners t o understand m o r e about w h a t parents learned t h r o u g h p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m The 32 responses t o this question p r o v i d e d i n f o r m a t i o n about practical, k n o w l e d g e based learning related t o child safety, child development and discipline. Because o f the concrete nature o f t h i s question, i t is n o t surprising that the p r o p o r t i o n o f simple and elaborate responses w a s f a i r l y even w i t h  59  category t w o responses accounting f o r slightly m o r e that 5 0 % o f the t o t a l n u m b e r o f responses.  The f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h n o n English speaking parents p r o v i d e d considerable i n f o r m a t i o n about h o w p r o g r a m i n f o r m a t i o n w a s used and w h a t outcomes w e r e realized from the p r o g r a m I n b o t h category one and category t w o responses parents described i n some detail actual situations w h e r e t h e y h a d applied the k n o w l e d g e t h e y gained from the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m I n m o s t cases situations described i n v o l v e d incidents that c o m p r o m i s e d health or safety w h e r e parents w e r e able t o intervene resulting i n a positive o u t c o m e f o r the child. H o w e v e r , elaborate responses extended this t y p e o f description t o include expressions o f parents' g r o w i n g confidence i n themselves as competent parents that stemmed from their ability t o respond t o their children's needs. These elaborate responses contained i n s i g h t f u l descriptions o f parents' understanding o f their o w n children's needs as w e l l as some discussion o f h o w parents learned t o meet those needs m o r e effectively. A s w e l l , the c o m p l e x i t y o f the f o c u s g r o u p discussions a l l o w e d the link b e t w e e n parental confidence and k n o w l e d g e about safety and child development t o be made clear.  I n f o r m a t i o n about the extent t o w h i c h parents' sense o f confidence h a d increased t h r o u g h greater k n o w l e d g e o f child development and safety demonstrated the i m p o r t a n c e o f p r o v i d i n g i n f o r m a t i o n t o parents. Overall, i n the secure environment o f a g r o u p o f parents w i t h similar experiences, parents w e r e able t o express their difficulties and describe h o w the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m h a d helped t h e m be m o r e competent and confident parents. T h e f o l l o w i n g  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 n o t e d that t h e N o b o d y ' s P e r f e c t P r o g r a m h a d i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r a p p r o a c h t o d i s c i p l i n e a n d g u i d i n g t h e i r c h i l d r e n ' s b e h a v i o u r . I n t h e i r f i r s t l a n g u a g e parents w e r e able t o r e f l e c t o n t h i s c o m p l e x aspect o f p a r e n t i n g a n d e l o q u e n t l y express changes i n t h e i r attitudes a n d t h e i r actions. M o s t parents i d e n t i f i e d a n a p p r o a c h t o d i s c i p l i n e w h i c h i n c l u d e d c o r p o r a l p u n i s h m e n t as a n i n t e g r a l part o f t h e i r c u l t u r a l b a c k g r o u n d . S o m e parents e m p h a s i z e d a n a b r u p t c h a n g e i n t h e i r a p p r o a c h that r e s u l t e d f r o m t h e p r o g r a m w h i l e other p a r e n t s ' c o m m e n t s d e s c r i b e d a g r a d u a l t r a n s i t i o n f r o m a t r a d i t i o n a l a p p r o a c h that u t i l i z e d c o r p o r a l p u n i s h m e n t t o a m o r e " W e s t e r n " a p p r o a c h c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y v e r b a l g u i d a n c e t e c h n i q u e s . M o s t o f t h e c o m m e n t s seemed t o i n d i c a t e a g r e e m e n t w i t h t h e n o t i o n that " W e s t e r n " d i s c i p l i n e w a s p r e f e r a b l e . T h e f o l l o w i n g are e x a m p l e s o f t h e 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 learnfromthem.  Did The Leader Of The Nobody's Perfect Program Seem More Like A Teacher Or A Facilitator?  This f o c u s g r o u p question related t o the learner-centred m o d e l u p o n w h i c h the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m is based. A basic principle o f this m o d e l is that parents w a n t t o learn m o r e  63  about parenting and can learn parenting and b u i l d a support n e t w o r k t h r o u g h p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a g r o u p learning experience. The p r o g r a m literature describes this m o d e l as one w h i c h values the p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f all parents, w h e r e there is n o expert o r teacher and w h e r e the k n o w l e d g e about parenting is shared t h r o u g h g r o u p discussion. The t h e o r y behind this approach stems f r o m the emphasis o n a health p r o m o t i o n approach w h i c h attempts t o shift responsibility f o r health from the " e x p e r t " t o the " c o n s u m e r . " The  Nobody's Perfect Leaders' Guide lists six  guidelines f o r the i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f the learner centred approach: •  I n v o l v e the parents i n deciding w h a t they w a n t t o learn i n the p r o g r a m and h o w they w a n t t o learn it.  •  Create a friendly, safe, and n o n j u d g m e n t a l atmosphere.  •  E n c o u r a g e discussion.  •  Create learning activities w h i c h enable parents t o understand their situations and solve some o f t h e i r o w n problems.  •  B e prepared t o change y o u r session p l a n t o suit the needs and interests o f parents.  •  E n c o u r a g e self-help and m u t u a l support.  Because o f the centrality o f this m o d e l t o the p r o g r a m design it w a s i m p o r t a n t f o r p r o g r a m planners t o learn about t h e degree t o w h i c h v a r i o u s g r o u p s adhered t o t h i s m o d e l and the perceived effectiveness o f this approach b y n o n English speaking parents from a v a r i e t y o f cultures. P r i o r t o this research, p r o g r a m planners h a d speculated that parents w i t h o u t a W e s t e r n educational b a c k g r o u n d w o u l d n o t accept a learning m o d e l that w a s n o t based o n the central leadership role o f a teacher or an expert. I t w a s argued that these g r o u p participants  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 learnfromthe book, our facilitator, and gain supportfromother 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 learnedfromall of the other parents. We were all veryfriendlywith each other it was a very amicable, learning atmosphere.  Some parents' comments created an understanding o f a developmental process w h e r e , over t i m e , parents became increasingly comfortable w i t h the learner centred approach. F o r example, w h e n participants reflected o n their experiences w i t h the learner centred approach, their comments w e r e h i g h l y descriptive and enthusiastic t o w a r d the m o d e l b u t n o t e d that i t t o o k some t i m e t o adapt t o it:  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 m o s t cases the discussion w h i c h f o l l o w e d this question w a s a t h o u g h t f u l r e f l e c t i o n o f each i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience w i t h the g r o u p process itself. O v e r o h e l m i n g l y , parents w e r e able t o identify the facilitation techniques used b y the facilitator t o encourage sharing a m o n g participants and they w e r e v e r y positive about the outcomes o f this process. A t the same t i m e , some parents expressed a desire f o r the p r o g r a m t o invite special speakers w h o are " e x p e r t s " o n specific parenting topics. The ability o f the f o c u s g r o u p discussion t o u n c o v e r b o t h aspects o f parents' reactions is i n d i c a t i o n o f the usefulness o f f o c u s g r o u p s i n learning about c o m p l e x issues such as a particular m o d e l o f p r o g r a m implementation.  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 h a d first been used i n V a n c o u v e r , the i m p l e m e n t a t i o n o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m i n languages other than E n g l i s h h a d been controversial. Some o f the c r i t i c i s m o f other-than-EngUsh implementation w a s p r o b a b l y related t o a general reluctance t o p r o v i d e services i n languages other t h a n E n g l i s h (and perhaps F r e n c h ) based o n the v i e w that i m m i g r a n t s should learn English. H o w e v e r , public discussion o f this issue centred a r o u n d questions o f the " c u l t u r a l appropriateness" o f the p r o g r a m and w h e t h e r the p r o g r a m w h i c h h a d been developed f o r a certain "target g r o u p " c o u l d address the needs o f parents f r o m diverse c u l t u r a l b a c k g r o u n d s , especially those parents w i t h l i m i t e d English speaking ability. Some argued that the p r o g r a m content included i n the f i v e parent b o o k s d i d n o t address the specific parenting experiences o f n e w c o m e r parents. Others h a d said that the p r o g r a m w a s " t o o W e s t e r n " and m a n y i m m i g r a n t parents w o u l d n o t l i k e it.  The i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e d b y p r o g r a m participants i n the f o c u s g r o u p s described i n this study made an i m p o r t a n t c o n t r i b u t i o n t o this discussion. O v e i w h e h n i n g l y , parents spoke positively o f t h e i r experience i n t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m emphasizing t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n t h e p r o g r a m h a d made t o their ability t o successfully parent their children i n a Canadian context. O f the 56 responses t o the question about t h e cultural appropriateness o f t h e p r o g r a m , 48 responses w e r e elaborately descriptive p r o v i d i n g insight i n t o the process o f settlement i n t o a n e w culture. Parents reflected deeply o n their experiences w i t h parenting i n the Canadian crossc u l t u r a l environment and h o w this h a d been addressed i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m  68  Parents' discussions a l l o w e d planners t o understand the c o m p l e x i t y o f the settlement process and t o recognize the careful and t h o u g h t f u l consideration i m m i g r a n t parents give t o cultural differences and similarities as they explore v a r i o u s parenting approaches. Parents indicated that m u c h o f the discussion i n the parenting p r o g r a m h a d addressed similarities and differences i n c h i l d r e a r i n g amongst v a r i o u s cultures. W i t h i n t h e " s a f e " environment o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m parents h a d discussed the c o m p l e x issues o f parenting and i n the equally safe environment o f t h e first language f o c u s g r o u p s these same parents w e r e able t o describe their v i e w s o f c u l t u r a l differences i n parenting practices. T h e f o l l o w i n g quotations p r o v i d e some insight i n t o parents' reflections:  Our background Westerners.  and life style as Chinese is different  The Westerners  more focused  on our job.  are more focused  The Westerners is for physical  on their children  Chinese culture  balance.  We should give them the right degree of  showing We prefer  to hide our feelings  you " while they are young older. Anyhow, I am getting  punishment.  by telling  the  the Chinese  punishment  are  toward  But I think we should keep a discipline.  We are not used to verbally  our love to our children  while  oppose giving physical  children.  We are more conservative.  in many ways from  and physically  them "I love you"  in our hearts. Hugging  and telling  is ok. But it is kind of awkward more used to the hugging  or giving  expressing  them a hug.  our children  "I love  to do so when they are  now.  and  69  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 N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m includes five b o o k s intended f o r use d u r i n g t h e g r o u p sessions and b y parents at h o m e . T h e five b o o k s are entitled Body, Safety, Mind, Behaviour, and Parents. E a c h b o o k is about fifty pages i n l e n g t h and consists o f b o t h w r i t t e n t e x t and accompanying illustrations. E a c h o f the five b o o k s addresses sub-topics related t o t h e t i t l e o f the b o o k . F o r example, t h e Safety b o o k includes sections related t o accidents, c h i l d p r o o f i n g the h o m e , t o y safety, car safety, r o a d safety, safety outside t h e h o m e and first aid. T h e Behaviour b o o k has sections entitled, " L o v e and S p o i l i n g , " " H o w C a n I Teach T h e m t o B e h a v e ? , " " S p a n k i n g " and " S o l v i n g Some C o m m o n B e h a v i o u r P r o b l e m s . " F r o m parents' comments i n f o c u s g r o u p sessions, p r o g r a m planners learned that parents greatly appreciated  70  the i n f o r m a t i o n contained i n the b o o k s and used this i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h i n their families. Planners also learned, h o w e v e r , that the usefulness o f the b o o k s w a s significantly tempered b y the inability o f m o s t participants t o read English.  The use o f the p r o g r a m b o o k s b y participants b o t h d u r i n g the p r o g r a m i t s e l f as w e l l as at h o m e w a s discussed at l e n g t h i n all o f the f o c u s groups. I n t o t a l , 88 statements w e r e made concerning w h a t parents h a d learned from the b o o k s ; 9 0 % o f these statements w e r e elaborate descriptions. R e g a r d i n g the use o f the b o o k s d u r i n g the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m sessions, participants indicated that t h e degree t o w h i c h t h e b o o k s w e r e used depended p r i m a r i l y u p o n the g r o u p facilitator. W h e r e the b o o k s h a d been used extensively, i t w a s because the facilitator h a d p r o v i d e d either w r i t t e n o r verbal translation o f v a r i o u s sections o f the b o o k s . I n other g r o u p s facilitators h a d made v e r b a l reference t o i n f o r m a t i o n w h i c h they said w a s i n one o f the books.  Use o f the b o o k s at h o m e w a s m u c h m o r e c o m m o n . Some parents indicated that they l o o k e d i n the b o o k s f o r i n f o r m a t i o n w h e n they h a d a concern or a p r o b l e m M a n y parents said t h e y h a d t r i e d t o read the b o o k s at h o m e , b u t often said they c o u l d o n l y partially understand the text. Parents r e p o r t e d reading o r ' l o o k i n g a t " the b o o k s w i t h their children p r i m a r i l y t o teach children h o w t o behave. Some parents r e p o r t e d that t h e y l o o k e d at the illustrations and guessed at t h e message being communicated. Some r e p o r t e d discussing these "guesses" w i t h their children. T h e f o l l o w i n g quotations 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 mu  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 lookingfor 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 difficulties parents h a d accessing i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m the b o o k s w a s i m p o r t a n t i n f o r m a t i o n f o r planners and p o l i c y makers. The realization that the p r o g r a m content m i g h t w e l l be i n c o r r e c t l y interpreted b y parents w h o c o u l d n o t read E n g l i s h and w e r e dependent o n the illustrations alarmed H e a l t h Canada officials. A specific example o f this is the use o f the terms " s o r r y " and " s a f e " w i t h accompanying illustrations i n the  Safety b o o k . V a r i o u s t y p i c a l  situations are illustrated w i t h one illustration s h o w i n g an " u n s a f e " situation and the other a " s a f e " situation. H o w e v e r , w i t h o u t an understanding o f the w r i t t e n w o r d s there c o u l d easily be confusion regarding the safety o f specific situations. A s w e l l , i t w a s realized that most o f the illustrations w e r e adequate w h e n accompanied b y the w r i t t e n t e x t b u t c o u l d n o t take the place o f the t e x t i n c o m m u n i c a t i n g the intended meaning.  A l m o s t all participants i n the f o c u s g r o u p s identified translation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect parent b o o k s as the m o s t critical need f o r change i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m W i t h o u t translation o f the b o o k s , parents felt they w e r e n o t 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 m e a n i n g f u l imperative, "translate the b o o k s " t o express this idea. M o s t parents, h o w e v e r , used elaborate statements t o explain w h y translation w a s needed and h o w translation o f the b o o k s w o u l d benefit their learning. Parents p r o v i d e d v e r y articulate  73  and c o n v i n c i n g arguments i n support o f translation o f the p r o g r a m b o o k s t o increase the effectiveness o f the p r o g r a m A s a result, f u n d i n g w a s p r o v i d e d t o translate all f i v e N o b o d y ' s Perfect b o o k s i n t o Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese and t o distribute the b o o k s i n translation t o N o b o d y ' s Perfect g r o u p s as needed. T h e f o l l o w i n g p r o v i d e s examples o f parents' comments about the language o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect b o o k s :  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 oth 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 r o g r a m h a d learned over t i m e that E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants typically suggested three i m p r o v e m e n t s t o the p r o g r a m Focus group discussions analyzed f o r this study suggested that n o n E n g l i s h speaking parents, regardless o f t h e i r linguistic o r c u l t u r a l b a c k g r o u n d , made t h e same suggestions f o r p r o g r a m i m p r o v e m e n t : p r o g r a m s w i t h m o r e sessions, opportunities t o continue t o meet periodically, and f o l l o w - u p p r o g r a m s f o r parents o f older children. I n a d d i t i o n t o the suggestions f o r translation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m b o o k s , m a n y parents i n the n o n E n g l i s h speaking f o c u s g r o u p s suggested the p r o g r a m be p r o m o t e d t h r o u g h advertising i n the media o f specific c u l t u r a l communities. The f o l l o w i n g comments from parents i n the f o c u s g r o u p s indicated their appreciation o f the p r o g r a m and their desire t o 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 sh be longer. There should also be a follow up group after the program finishes.  75  We would have liked to have gotten deeper into some topics but there was not enou 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 t  take the program again in the future. I was ignorant of how or what to feed my baby Through Nobody's Perfect I am doingfine 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 AND CONCLUSIONS  Involvement of Non English Speaking Program Participants in Program Evaluation  The purpose o f this research w a s t o determine the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s as a p r o g r a m evaluation m e t h o d o l o g y w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants. A case study a p p r o a c h w a s used t o study six f o c u s g r o u p s w h i c h w e r e c o n d u c t e d i n the context o f a p r o g r a m evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m c o n d u c t e d i n V a n c o u v e r , Canada ( R i t c h & M c L a r e n , 1 9 9 4 ) . These focus g r o u p s w e r e i m p l e m e n t e d w i t h n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants t o i n v o l v e participants as stakeholders i n the p r o g r a m evaluation process, t o enable p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers t o learn about the experiences o f n o n E n g l i s h speaking participants i n t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and t o i m p r o v e the p r o g r a m based o n the suggestions o f those p r o g r a m participants.  The English speaking researcher w o r k e d w i t h bilingual, b i c u l t u r a l f o c u s g r o u p facilitators i n a "co-researcher" relationship p r i o r t o c o n d u c t i n g the g r o u p s t o establish a shared understanding o f the f o c u s g r o u p questions and t o ensure consistent w o r d i n g o f the questions that w o u l d enable participants t o contribute t o the g r o u p conversation. Six f o c u s g r o u p s w e r e i m p l e m e n t e d , t w o each i n 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 h o u r f o c u s group sessions. On-site c h i l d care w a s p r o v i d e d w i t h caregivers w h o spoke the language o f the parents attending. E a c h f o c u s g r o u p w a s audio  77  recorded and t h e researcher w a s an observer at all sessions. A u d i o tapes o f the sessions w e r e transcribed and translated i n t o E n g l i s h b y bilingual, b i c u l t u r a l translators w h o w e r e familiar w i t h the content area o f parenting programs. This familiarity 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 c o n t r i b u t e d t o the p r o d u c t i o n o f meaningful transcripts i n English. These transcripts w e r e t h e n analyzed b y the researcher t o determine w h e t h e r f o c u s g r o u p s i n participants' first language h a d p r o d u c e d n e w and useful i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers r e g a r d i n g the experiences o f n o n English speaking N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m participants.  M u c h o f the i n f o r m a t i o n that w a s gathered t h r o u g h these f o c u s g r o u p discussions w a s " h e w " i n f o r m a t i o n f o r p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers and p r o v i d e d suggestions f o r i m p r o v i n g the effectiveness o f p r o g r a m delivery o f N o b o d y ' s Perfect t o n o n English speaking parents. I n f o r m a t i o n obtained t h r o u g h the f o c u s g r o u p s conducted i n this study regarding the use o f the p r o g r a m b o o k s b y n o n English speaking p r o g r a m participants is a case i n p o i n t . W h e r e p r e v i o u s l y the developer a n d publisher o f t h e b o o k s , H e a l t h Canada, h a d been aware f o r some t i m e that b o t h staff and p r o g r a m participants h a d suggested translation o f the b o o k s i n t o several languages, i t w a s the realization stemming from these focus group discussions that some i n f o r m a t i o n i n the b o o k s was actually b e i n g misinterpreted b y n o n E n g l i s h speaking readers that p r o m p t e d officials t o take immediate action t o translate the b o o k s i n t o f o u r additional languages.  The i n f o r m a t i o n gathered from these focus g r o u p s and the resulting p o l i c y and p r o g r a m changes supports the n o t i o n o f the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s as a p r o g r a m evaluation m e t h o d w i t h n o n  78  English speaking p r o g r a m participants. H o w e v e r , given the absence o f i n f o r m a t i o n i n the literature related t o the use o f f o c u s g r o u p s w i t h " s p e c i a l " populations, m o r e research is needed t o understand the process m o r e completely. Jarrett ( 1 9 9 3 ) suggests that t h e existing literature o n focus group i n t e r v i e w i n g is useful f o r f o c u s g r o u p i m p l e m e n t a t i o n generally b u t that f u r t h e r w o r k is needed t o understand f o c u s g r o u p i n t e r v i e w i n g w i t h l o w - i n c o m e and/or ethnic and racial minorities p a r t i c u l a r l y addressing issues such as g r o u p c o m p o s i t i o n , facihtation, advantages and limitations. The research f o r the study r e p o r t e d i n this thesis also suggests the need t o m o r e f u l l y understand the g r o u p discussion process i t s e l f w i t h i n a specific c u l t u r a l context.  The f o c u s g r o u p s described i n t h i s study w e r e most certainly influenced b y t h e fact that all p r o g r a m participants h a d completed the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m and h a d become familiar w i t h a g r o u p discussion f o r m a t t o express and exchange ideas. A t the same t i m e , regardless o f their readiness t o participate i n such a g r o u p process, their p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m evaluation w o u l d n o t have been possible w i t h o u t the o p p o r t u n i t y t o p r o v i d e feedback i n their first language. T h r o u g h these focus g r o u p s conducted i n their first language, participants w e r e able t o participate as p r o g r a m stakeholders and t o describe their experience i n the p r o g r a m A n d although parents w e r e n o t directly asked t o describe changes i n t h e i r p a r e n t i n g resulting f r o m the p r o g r a m , m a n y parents d i d suggest w a y s their everyday lives w e r e affected b y t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the p r o g r a m T h i s i n f o r m a t i o n w o u l d have been inaccessible i f the " f i r s t language focus g r o u p " m e t h o d o l o g y h a d n o t been utilized.  79 The recent d i r e c t i o n i n social services t o w a r d s greater user involvement i n p r o g r a m planning has h a d significant implications f o r p r o g r a m evaluation i n c l u d i n g h o w and from w h o m i n f o r m a t i o n is gathered ( C r o f t & B e r e s f o r d , 1990) . C o n d u c t i n g f o c u s g r o u p s i n participants' p r e f e r r e d 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 application o f methods w h i c h facilitate the meaningful p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f stakeholders i n p r o g r a m evaluation ( K r u e g a r , 1994) and highUghts the importance o f d o i n g research w i t h specific sub populations i n order t o explore their particular needs ( K i r k r n a n - L i f f & M o n d r a g o n , 1991) . W h e r e people feel that their language ability w i l l n o t a l l o w t h e m t o f u l l y express themselves, they m a y feel d i s e m p o w e r e d t o participate i n the process. I n v i t i n g their i n p u t t h r o u g h m e t h o d o l o g i e s that a l l o w participants f u l l expression t h r o u g h use o f their first language assures equity o f o u t c o m e f o r these individuals and thus the ability t o influence decision-making processes that m a y affect theno w n lives.  M o r g a n ( 1 9 9 7 ) suggests that w e j u d g e t h e u t i l i t y o f focus g r o u p s b y w h e t h e r t h e y help us reach our research goals. T h e i m p o r t a n t i n f o r m a t i o n resulting from i m p l e m e n t a t i o n and analysis o f f o c u s groups w i t h n o n E n g l i s h speaking p r o g r a m participants i n this study is evidence o f the usefulness o f this qualitative m e t h o d i n eliciting i n f o r m a t i o n from specific p o p u l a t i o n s w h i c h are generally excluded from research samples. I n this study o f the u t i l i t y o f f o c u s g r o u p s f o r n o n E n g l i s h speaking participants, the i n f o r m a t i o n obtained from participants w a s crucial i n h e l p i n g evaluators realize the overall goals o f the evaluation o f the N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m T h e i n v o l v e m e n t o f these participants w a s also i m p o r t a n t i n that i t gave these g r o u p s the o p p o r t u n i t y t o p r o v i d e i n p u t into an evaluation that w o u l d affect t h e m and t o exercise some c o n t r o l o n b e h a l f o f their o w n  80  interests ( G u b a & L i n c o l n , 1 9 8 9 ) . T h r o u g h meaningful p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the evaluation process, n o n English speaking parents can begin t o take o n the stakeholder role i n their o w n services.  Limitations of Focus Groups  The p r i m a r y l i m i t a t i o n o f f o c u s g r o u p s discussed i n the literature is that o f the l a c k o f generalizabihty o f the i n f o r m a t i o n gathered. I n quantitative research, sampling m e t h o d s are used t o ensure generalizabihty; such generalizabihty is n o t possible w i t h f o c u s g r o u p m e t h o d o l o g y . E v e n i f quantitative sampling techniques c o u l d be used t o assemble g r o u p s , t h e variations present i n any g r o u p m c l u d i n g h o w m u c h individuals w i t h i n the g r o u p t a l k and h o w t h e y share v i e w s w i t h i n the g r o u p s w o u l d always preclude generalizabihty. I n addressing the issue o f f o c u s g r o u p generalizabihty, K r u e g e r ( 1 9 9 4 ) suggests that f o c u s g r o u p s are a valuable and u s e f u l m e t h o d o l o g y f o r p r o g r a m s i n community-based social services agencies specifically because w i t h i n such organizations, considerable credibility is g i v e n t o the experience o f the individual. A l s o , w h e r e i t is i m p o r t a n t t o hear f r o m p r o g r a m participants directly concerning the value o f a particular p r o g r a m t o t h e m , there m a y be sufficient reason t o sacrifice some precision i n measurement w i t h the h o p e that this w i l l increase the usefulness o f the findings t o persons i n and a r o u n d t h e p r o g r a m (Shadish et al, 1991) . A n o t h e r l i m i t a t i o n cited f o r focus g r o u p s is that the people i n c l u d e d i n the focus group are generally those w h o are ready t o v o i c e their v i e w s publicly. Potentially valuable contributors such as people w i t h hearing o r speech problems, v e r y y o u n g and v e r y o l d individuals, and people i n t i m i d a t e d b y articulating their v i e w s i n public are l i k e l y t o be excluded (Basch, 1987).  81  A f u r t h e r l i m i t a t i o n is t h e general lack o f d i r e c t i o n i n the literature r e g a r d i n g analysis o f the results o f f o c u s groups. M u c h o f the Hterature concerning f o c u s g r o u p s describes m e t h o d s f o r c o n d u c t i n g the f o c u s g r o u p s , b u t there is little discussion o f w h a t t o do w i t h the results. I n the absence o f such direction, researchers generally f o l l o w qualitative analysis procedures. F o r f o c u s group analysis vvithin a p r o g r a m evaluation context, researchers generally describe and analyze the responses t o f o c u s g r o u p questions i n t e r m s o f the usefulness o f the i n f o r m a t i o n they p r o v i d e t o p r o g r a m planners and p o l i c y makers i n making decisions regarding p r o g r a m delivery.  I n addition, i n f o r m a t i o n that w o u l d help researchers analyze the g r o u p dynamic a m o n g f o c u s group participants o r the dynamic o f the facilitator and the participants is generally absent f r o m the hterature. W h i l e the hterature does somewhat address the capacity and indeed the strength o f focus g r o u p s t o b u i l d k n o w l e d g e t h r o u g h " g r o u p t h i n k " t h e dynamics o f t h e g r o u p process are n o t sufficiently described. T h e l i m i t e d i n f o r m a t i o n about g r o u p process i n E n g l i s h language f o c u s groups contributes t o the d i f f i c u l t y o f c o n d u c t i n g analysis o f the g r o u p dynamics w i t h i n other c u l t u r a l and linguistic groups.  W h i l e the analysis o f t h e f o c u s g r o u p s f o r this study made n o attempt t o compare or contrast the focus g r o u p discussions o f diverse cultures o r t o d r a w inferences regarding the r o l e o f cultural b a c k g r o u n d i n either the f o c u s g r o u p process o r the evaluative i n f o r m a t i o n generated b y the f o c u s group discussion, i t seems evident that culture is an i m p o r t a n t f a c t o r i n aspects o f the f o c u s g r o u p discussion such as t u r n - t a k i n g , leading the discussion, and " t r i g g e r s " f o r the t o p i c o r pace o f the discussion. One example o f the influence o f culture was n o t e d i n the f o c u s g r o u p discussion i n  82  Vietnamese i n the w a y i n w h i c h participants seemed t o be " t r i g g e r e d " b y statements made b y the facilitator. I n this g r o u p the facilitator periodically summarized w h a t recently h a d been said b y participants and i n t h i s summary the facilitator often included an idea o r t o p i c w h i c h h a d n o t been p r e v i o u s l y m e n t i o n e d b y g r o u p members. F o l l o w i n g the f a c i l i t a t o r ' s remarks, this " n e w " t o p i c w a s usually addressed b y m a n y o f the participants. This p a t t e r n o f conversation w a s congruent w i t h c u l t u r a l practice i n the Vietnamese c o m m u n i t y w h e r e individuals w h o are h e l d i n h i g h esteem are often emulated b y others. The f o c u s g r o u p facilitator w o u l d h o l d such a place o f h o n o u r and respect and, therefore, participants w o u l d f o l l o w the f a c i l i t a t o r ' s lead regarding t o p i c s f o r discussion.  W h i l e this p a t t e r n m a y suggest t o some analysts that the f o c u s g r o u p m a y n o t be a useful m e t h o d f o r p r o g r a m evaluation because participants are t o some degree ' l e d " b y t h e facilitator, this conclusion m a y be a niisunderstanding o f the process i n its c u l t u r a l context. T h i s example o f the " t r i g g e r i n g " process is o n l y one example o f aspects o f c u l t u r a l dynamics w h i c h are deeply embedded i n the f o c u s g r o u p process and w h i c h require f u r t h e r study so that f o c u s g r o u p s m a y be u t i l i z e d effectively w i t h diverse populations f o r p r o g r a m evaluation purposes. Because i t is n o t possible t o d r a w definitive conclusions f r o m this one study, c u l t u r a l dynamics i n these areas w a r r a n t further study i n order t o extend our understanding o f the u t i l i t y o f this m e t h o d o l o g y f o r p r o g r a m 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  definitions and checking o f t e n n i n o l o g y as w e l l as back translation techniques o r v e r i f y i n g translation t h r o u g h m o r e t h a n one translator, w h i l e costly, can serve as mechanisms t o ensure consistent a t t r i b u t i o n o f meaning t o the data.  Program Evaluation Standards  Focus g r o u p s c o n d u c t e d w i t h n o n English speaking participants o f t h e N o b o d y ' s Perfect P r o g r a m w i l l contribute t o the ability o f evaluations t o address the P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n Standards published b y the Joint C o m m i t t e e o f Standards ( 1 9 9 4 ) . These standards call f o r evaluations w h i c h have u t i l i t y , feasibility, p r o p r i e t y and accuracy. The u t i l i t y standards are intended t o ensure that the evaluation w i l l serve t h e i n f o r m a t i o n needs o f intended users ( T h e P r o g r a m E v a l u a t i o n Standards, 1 9 9 4 ) . One o f the aspects identified as c o n t r i b u t i n g t o this u t i l i t y is the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f stakeholders i n the evaluation and attention t o addressing their needs. A s p r o g r a m s are developed t o encourage p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f people from diverse c u l t u r a l and linguistic b a c k g r o u n d s , p r o g r a m evaluation must develop m e t h o d o l o g i e s t o include stakeholders w h o are o f t e n o m i t t e d because their language and c u l t u r a l differs from the p r o g r a m evaluator. A s these p r o g r a m s are initiated and become m o r e and m o r e established i n the c o m m u n i t y , the need t o evaluate t h e m becomes paramount. Clearly, evaluation designs and methodologies must be developed t o include these stakeholders i n p r o g r a m evaluation processes. 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