Why pre-tasks and post-tasks supercharge your data

Market Research 101: Qualitative methodologies to add to your market research toolkit

There are many benefits to conducting discussion groups for research – they are a great space for people to come together, be creative and build on each other’s ideas. However, understanding individuals’ lives outside of the group setting supplements group discussions with depth and context.

Pre-tasks and post-tasks are a great way to do this and can be used across different types of projects.

Why pre-tasks?

Pre-tasks are tasks that people conduct before they come to group discussions or interviews and before they are aware of the subject matter.

Pre-tasks work particularly well on projects which delve into people’s individual behaviours. One of the key advantages of pre-tasks is that they provide extra detail which may be more difficult to explore during group conversations, given that everyone’s personal experience will be different.

They can be completed across a range of platforms such as text, photo, video and audio, which allows people to show the context of their lives and behaviours in an engaging way. For example, on a project exploring food a useful pre-task could be one which asks participants to speak about their eating habits and send some pictures or videos showing some of their favourite food items at home. This provides depth but beyond this, the information shared in the pre-task can help build rapport between the moderator and participants, or even act as a conversation starter where needed.

When completed properly, pre-tasks can be rich, contextual and evocative. But one disadvantage of pre-tasks is that they can prime participants for a session where it may be more beneficial to come into a discussion group with a fresh mind (e.g. for creative development projects). Additionally, when pre-tasks feel too complicated it can feel overwhelming and put participants off participating in the research.


Why post-tasks?

Post-tasks are tasks that people complete after a research group or interview and allow us to extend those discussions.

While pre-tasks work well for understanding individual behaviours and contexts, post-tasks can be a useful reflective tool after group discussions or interviews. One example of a post-task could be a follow up in the days after a discussion group exploring ideas or concepts, simply to check what people remember. These work well in a short and simple format. Post-tasks are especially useful on creative development projects, where it is important to understand how memorable an idea is to the audience and what elements stayed with them. They can also be used to follow up on any interesting conversations or perspectives from a group.

The only down side to using post-tasks is the response rate. Oftentimes participants regard the end of a discussion group as the end of their contribution, and so aren’t always inclined to respond to a post-task email.

 Tanya Lolomari, Research Executive 

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