Data for the LWW study was collected in two main ways: a literature review and focus group interviews (FGI's). This combined methodology ensured that the experiences and perceptions of individuals were placed within the larger socioeconomic and political context. Information gathered from the literature also facilitated the interpretation of focus group results, and vice-versa. Thus, one method informed and enriched the other.
Focus Group Interviews
"When there is little prior research in an area... focus groups can be used to help the researcher to formulate a research model and to develop instruments that are appropriate to the population and phenomenon under study. Focus group dialogues allow researchers to capture in-depth contextual detail that facilitates an understanding of group experiences and perspectives." (Hughes and Dumont, 1993, pp. 782-783)
Focus groups also offer a certain degree of personal 'safety' and group synergy. People who share similar backgrounds and concerns have been found to share more openly in a group setting than in one-to-one interviews. Group brainstorming can also elicit views that might not otherwise be voiced (Lederman: 1990, p. 118-120).
The target population for the FGI's included 2 groups of literacy instructors and 2 student groups. The sample groups represented (i) Brandon and rural community-based literacy programs and (ii) Winnipeg 'Community Partnerships' (CP) programs. Ten literacy students were interviewed: 6 from Brandon and area and 4 from Winnipeg. Seventeen instructors were interviewed: 10 from Brandon and area and 7 from Winnipeg.
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