Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

John Philip Wilson


It is observed that the focus group or group depth interview is agreed to be a strictly qualitative methodology. Sampling is not random and any participant may contribute disproportionately and introduce bias. Therefore, results of focus group research are not externally valid and should not be used to make inferences to the population from which the focus group is recruited.;It is also observed that, in practice, inference of focus group findings is commonplace and that strict adherence to the proscription against generalization would seriously reduce the current utility of the focus group as a method of inquiry.;A technique for evaluating the external validity of focus group findings was developed. This was accomplished using confirmatory survey research and accepted methods of statistical inference to test the findings of focus group research for agreement with survey research findings. An empirical test was conducted on 33 findings from focus group research within a specified population. Twenty-seven of these findings are in significant agreement, four are in significant disagreement, and two are inconclusive.;Continued skepticism about the external validity of focus group findings is recommended. Suggestions for improving the generalizability of focus group findings are offered, and continued empirical testing is proposed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Robert Marvin Gillespie



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

113 pages