Roving Focus Groups: Collecting Perceptual Landscape Data In Situ

  • Dennis B. Propst Michigan State University
  • Maureen H. McDonough Michigan State University
  • Christine A. Vogt Michigan State University
  • Dori M. Pynnonen-Valdez Michigan State University

Abstract

Although focus groups are adaptable to unique situations, experts warn that the physical environment in which discussions take place should (a) be free from distractions, (b) be neutral, and (c) permit participants to face each other. In 2004 and 2005 the authors experimented with roving focus groups in the rural landscape of Michigan (USA). As they moved along in a vehicle, participants discussed features that contributed to and detracted from rural landscape character. Results from a follow-up survey supported focus group themes. Such a congruence of results provides confidence in the procedure and expands interpretation of the concept, rural character. Qualitative procedures are rarely used to evaluate landscapes. In this study roving focus group results provided reliable and valid policy-relevant criteria at sufficient detail for planning purposes. The authors demonstrate the technology used to record the focus groups and discuss the pros and cons and ways of improving this procedure.

Author Biographies

Dennis B. Propst, Michigan State University
Professor, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University
Maureen H. McDonough, Michigan State University
Professor, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University
Christine A. Vogt, Michigan State University
Associate Professor, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies, Michigan State University
Dori M. Pynnonen-Valdez, Michigan State University
Ph.D. student and Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University
Published
2008-09-30
Section
Articles