Charlton College of Business introduces qualitative research course

New elective involves using focus groups, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, to assess and address specific client needs

Barnes and focus group students

A new Qualitative Research in Marketing course at UMass Dartmouth’s Charlton College of Business involves using focus groups to assess and address specific client needs. “Whereas the traditional program offers survey research, this new course involves qualitative research,” said Chancellor Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Marketing Research Nora Ganim Barnes, who developed the course after The Standard-Times expressed interest in focus groups and commissioned the Center for Marketing Research. “This is the first time we have offered focus groups to our clients as a product,” said Barnes. “The course also provides students with marketable and transferable skills. And that’s what we want.”

As part of the course, more than 30 individuals from the community gathered at the Charlton Learning Pavilion last month to participate in one of three group sessions, which were conducted by graduate and undergraduate students. The students led discussions on subscription rates, special inserts in the paper and other products offered by the news organization.

In addition to The Standard-Times, other clients with student teams include Bay Coast Bank, Moby Dick Brewery, Precix, and WoundChek. One team worked with Dean Kathryn Carter from the UMass Dartmouth Charlton College of Business to look at freshmen retention. Other clients were focused on obtaining information for certifications, leads for sales, or awareness of their products/services among their target customers. The Inc. 500 were surveyed to determine how they were using social media in their marketing efforts.

On December 7, a Client Dinner will be held for the clients to receive their final studies and get debriefed by their student teams. This program runs every semester and on campus and local businesses can apply to be clients. Projects are fee based. More information can be found on the Center for Marketing Research website

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