The IEREST focus groups
Work package 2 is drawing to an end. The virtual focus groups in September 2013 made up the final round of data collection of target groups’ needs. The most prominent and intriguing results from the student questionnaire were presented for comment to the participating teachers, officers, and students. In each case this sparked a stimulating exchange on how the IEREST intercultural paths could address both practical and more fundamental needs as experienced by each of the three target groups.
The student focus group
On 20 September 2013, Neva Čebron (University of Primorska) and Claudia Borghetti (University of Bologna) facilitated an online focus group with four students recently returned from the Erasmus study stay abroad. Participants were keen to share their experiences and help the IEREST team to interpret some of the data collected through the questionnaire. Students took inspiration from the facilitators’ input to focus on a number of issues, including that of differences in “university cultures”. All participants highlighted their feelings of awkwardness when participating in the new academic environment while abroad, due to several reasons: less/more contact with teachers; less/more study load; less/more seminars and collaborative work vs traditional lecturing; less/more technological support (including slides); etc. They also engaged in an interesting digression on language difficulties; to them, (1) the fact of knowing the language very well does not increase the chance of having contact with local students; (2) contacts with local students are hindered by the mere fact that most classes for Erasmus students are in English and separate from the regular ones.