Topics and commonly arising issues or barriers to engagement were determined from a mixture of the pulse survey data, interacting with the cohort and discussions with the career coaches. A small number of postdocs (typically 5 to 6) were invited to participate in a one hour long virtual focus group to discuss and explore the specific topic. A diverse and representative range of cohort postdocs were invited to participate in focus group discussions. Each session was facilitated by two members of the Prosper team, one primarily to facilitate, one to take notes. Prosper held focus groups on the following themes; time management, journaling, development of the Prosper portal, community building, career clusters and employer engagement, coaching, support from PIs, overall experience, and feedback. The Prosper team then discussed the best way to address the issues raised.
For more details on how to run a focus group see our page on running a focus group.
One-off session evaluation
We primarily sought feedback on one off sessions that had been commissioned by external suppliers to assess the quality and impact on the postdoc audience. These surveys were anonymous. However, we found that completion rate of these forms was poor, so instead we included a question listing all of the quarters sessions into the respective pulse and exit surveys. This did have the minor drawback in human error of the cohort misremembering which sessions they’d attended.
See an example of a typical survey used for evaluation of a one off session.
Buddy scheme evaluation
For details on how we ran a buddy scheme and an example of the anonymous feedback forms used see short duration and longer duration buddy schemes.
Portal feedback forms
Each page of our prototype online portal had a very basic anonymous feedback form at the end of the page. This feedback was automatically delivered to the Prosper inbox and included the specific webpage that it was filled in from.
A copy of the questions asked can be found here.
Direct feedback from cohort via email/instant messaging/verbal
Direct informal feedback was collected from the cohort members as well as other engaged stakeholders (postdocs, PIs and so on). This was shared and discussed within the Prosper team to see best how the feedback could be addressed or incorporated.
Journaling was recommended to the postdocs as means to aid self-reflection and tracing the evolution of their career development strategies and growth. The journal entries could be accessed by the individuals career coach, the Prosper team and the individual postdoc themselves. We found that the postdocs had a mixed response to journaling, with some really valuing it and some not finding it a useful practice for them. The fact that their journal entries were not fully private also dissuaded some postdocs from engaging with it. The reflective journal entries were a rich source of qualitative data for the Prosper team to understand mindset shifts, patterns of engagement and postdoc concerns during their personal career development journey. However, we found that analysing and anonymising this data was extremely time consuming.
See our blog post on our initial analysis of cohort 1 journals. See our journaling to increase your self-awareness page for more details and journal prompts.