Focus Group Response

Judy Koke, February 25, 2005

To gather participant response to workings and outcomes of the February 2,3,4 Focus Group entitled "Seeing the Universe" held at AMNH, a web survey was posted, and all participants invited to respond. Twenty-two responses were collected. Italicized sections are direct quotes.

Question 1: For you personally, what was the best part of the three-day meeting?

The most frequent response (27%) was the ability to meet, face to face, with colleagues that respondents had only met via email or literature. This allowed for relationship building and important conversations. 23% of respondents felt the gathering fostered a sense of community that allowed them to better understand their place in the field. In addition, participants felt a clearer understanding of the current state of the field and the ability to converse with such a broad range of practitioners was valuable. Two participants felt the break out sessions were most valuable because of the discussions that emerged in the small group work.

"I especially enjoyed the sense of community that emerged out of this meeting."

Meeting people I had only had email contact with before."

Being able to discuss visualization with an intelligent and diverse group of users and practitioners."

Question 2: In your opinion, what was the group's major accomplishment?

Although two respondents felt the accomplishment was still in the potential stage, and dependent on the report and its influence, generally participants felt the important accomplishments were threefold:

  1. Clarification and articulation of the issues and barriers to success in the filed
  2. Exchange of information about processes, products and people
  3. Development of a community of diverse people with a common interest

Established a community of diverse people with a common interest, and perhaps set up the first steps toward better communication with NASA

Finding a common ground for access information and distribution of the product to the public. Finding collaborators interested in NASA research that can be relayed to the public in creative ways

Question 3: What would have improved this conference?

(Note: numbers add to more than sample as respondents often gave multiple answers)

  • Clearer goals and processes for break out sessions–facilitation of small groups (6)
  • Less ambitious–would allow for more discussion and flexibility (6)
  • Logistics of breakout rooms was difficult (location and access) (3)
  • Shorter sessions and days (3)
  • Clearer goals and better organization before arrival (3)
  • More time and opportunity to enjoy the AMNH (3)
  • Broader focus: conversations heavily titled toward planetarium issues–while television broadcasts and informal education more generally reach much larger audiences. (2)
  • Smaller break out sessions (2)
  • More time for socialization (2)
  • Fewer case studies/more case studies (2/2)
  • Nothing (2)
  • More NASA participation (beyond head quarters) (1)
  • Clearer goals (big picture) during conference (1)

Question 4: How useful did you find the:

Very Somewhat Not at all
Case Studies 32% 64% 5%
Social Time 77% 23% 0%
Full group discussions 52% 48% 0%
Break-out sessions 59% 32% 9%
Technology demonstrations 45% 50% 5%

Question 5: Please comment on the organization, logistics, execution and facilitation of the meeting.

Generally positive: 15

Suggestions for improvement: (note, many repeated responses to question 3, above)

  • Better pre-conference organization/communication (3)
  • Better breakout session rooms (access/location) (3)
  • Less ambitious agenda (2)
  • More time for socialization
  • Smaller AMNH 'presence' (2)
  • Better focused final day

Question 6: How can we best maintain momentum on the discussions started at the focus group workshop?

(In no particular order)

  • Astroviz Group (13)
  • Post follow-up questions for discussion/clarification on listserv
  • Circulate report/chapters ASAP (2)
  • Assign sub-group tasks to accomplish key goals (4)
  • Continue to hold meetings (separate and at pre-existing AGU, AAS, etc.) (6)
  • Seed a collaboration or two as identified at meeting
  • Distill recommendations to an action list
  • "Accountability" meeting with NASA to document response (2)
  • Progress reports
  • Promote specific discussions i.e. evaluation
  • Have better focus group leaders

Question 7: if we were to repeat this gathering in 12 months, how long would you want it to be?

  • 1 day: 0%
  • 2 days: 27%
  • 3 days: 73%
  • 4 days: 0%

Question 8: What agenda topics would you want to be sure we included? (all)

  • Rescuing NASA archives: putting archive online and digitized
  • How can public-relations, education and news event planning be integrated from the very start of a mission?
  • Specific break-outs for planetaria, AV/TV producers, animators
  • Feedback from NASA as to next steps resulting from report
  • Create a more specific action plan/request to NASA
  • What is the rest of the world (non-astro, non-NASA) doing?
  • List of 5 immediate steps we can do (big and small)
  • List of 5 visionary ideas
  • Facilitating partnerships between for-profit and not-for-profit ventures
  • Training scientists in 'best practices' of outreach/communicating science
  • Pitching to the media
  • Progress reports on ITAR issues. Copyright/credit issues
  • More opportunity for 'show and tell' presentations
  • More socializing
  • More dome time
  • Astronomy outside NASA: resources from NSF, other space agencies
  • Free software and resources
  • Where to publish
  • How to get researchers more involved in producing visualizations
  • Evaluation
  • More critical thinking in case study presentations–what works well–what doesn't
  • Space hardware models, planetary surfaces, stellar science
  • Clarity on definition of visualization prior to meeting
  • What sells and what is effective educationally
  • Less expensive ways to achieve quality productions with more focus on what NASA needs
  • Case studies with full demonstration capability.
  • Discussions between producers and users on what is needed/desired and how to produce them.
  • How can we spread the wealth?
  • Discussion of the problems show producers and planetaria encounter in contracting and using vis materials.