Higher Education Consulting Group captures more and richer insights using Zeetings
In her work helping higher education providers better understand their businesses, Executive Director Planning & Analytics Kylie Colvin relies on extracting high-quality data from her research.
In a recent engagement with one of Australia’s top universities, Kylie needed to survey several hundred staff, conduct in-depth stakeholder interviews and hold multiple focus groups. It was in the focus groups where Kylie hoped Zeetings could improve her outcomes.
More useful data through better engagement
“The problems with focus groups are two-fold,” she said. “Firstly, they yield qualitative data, which is great but because it’s so subjective it’s somewhat difficult to use. Secondly, within a focus group the conversation is often driven or dominated by a few people – there’s almost always a silent minority who you want to hear from but they’re shy or don’t feel able or willing to contribute.”
Having discovered Zeetings through her professional network, Kylie thought the technology’s ability to engage participants in real time as the discussion progressed would help solve both issues.
“What Zeetings said it could do was give us the ability to put mini-surveys and polls and comment sections into the discussion, which participants can answer on their phones as they’re talking and listening. This gives a voice to those who aren’t comfortable doing a lot of talking, and it gives the qualitative results an incredibly useful overlay of quantitative information that really closely and accurately reflects the discussion we’ve had.”
At the commencement of each focus group Kylie emailed participants a link to access through their own smart device, to be used in exactly the same way as clicking through to a website. The link took them to the dedicated Zeetings environment. Throughout the discussion Kylie was able to enrich her findings by supplementing conversation with scale questions; information about the top three tools participants used; and short polls. Participants could see the data populating in real time and add additional thoughts via the comments area.
“The tool didn’t interrupt the conversation at all – we are so used to using our devices as we are talking anyway and I think because it was all related to the discussion at hand the speakers were able to seamlessly continue to talk while others were adding their views via Zeetings,” Kylie said. “People are using their own devices and don’t have to even download an app so it’s incredibly simple to use and engage with.”
“A benefit I didn’t foresee is that it made the qualitative discussion much richer,” Kylie says. “It added another layer and helped the conversation feed on itself in a way it usually would not. In addition to allowing quieter people to contribute without talking, it actually served to bring them out more because they had something extra to talk about.”
Fun at work
Kylie says Zeetings works for users largely because it’s fun. “Only one person can speak at a time in a focus group and this gives the others something to do that’s related to the discussion,” she says. “They would otherwise very likely be on their devices checking emails or Facebook etc, this way they’re on their devices but they’re adding to the dialogue. We had some really useful feedback in the comments section, and the other participants can see it in real time so it drives much more engagement. In one group I had a particularly quiet person who would previously just not have contributed much at all. But because Zeetings was so easy he could simply type on his iPad and I could instantly see it and then raise his points with the group in a way that didn’t draw attention to him. So not only did I get feedback I would not have had previously, I was able to take instant action upon that feedback.”
When Kylie presented her findings back to the university’s executive team, she was able to add a very rich set of quantitative data from her focus groups, supplementing the quantitative data from her enterprise-wide surveys.
“This is incredibly exciting for me as a researcher because suddenly I have this wealth of data that just was never available before,” she said. “Focus groups look at the ‘why’ behind questions and that’s never been something we could build robust data around. Suddenly, qualitative data has become measurable.”
Kylie said the additional data Zeetings provided gave an additional point of reference to detect any biases in the results. “Having questions similar to those in the surveys and interviews means the data will throw up an anomalies, creating a safety net and increasing the robustness of the final results,” she said. “In this case the results from Zeetings reinforced the results from our other research methods, however in future we will continue to look for any anomalies which might lead us to do some additional research or adjust what we’re asking people.”