Communication Research Lab/Focus Group Room

The University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication's (SJMC) reputation for rigorous and innovative research dates back to 1944 when the School created the nation's first quantitative research division. More than 50 years and a major building renovation later, SJMC's Communication Research Lab affirms the School's enduring commitment to distinguished scholarship.

The Communication Research Lab, located on Murphy Hall's third floor, contains a rich repository of resources for conducting graduate and post-graduate research. The lab is continually upgraded with equipment and software to spur new research and support a wide range of communication-related studies from focus groups and eye tracking studies to online surveys, reaction time experiments, educational game exploration, and much more. This facility is designed to support small-scale research with large-scale impact. The SJMC Research Division offers consultation on research design, sampling, data analysis, data interpretation, and publication. It operates the SJMC Subject Pool and is the school's liaison with the Human Subjects Committee. It oversees the Telethnography Program; its library of TV programs; and the DDB Needham Life Styles Survey data bases, two of the richest resources in the country for student and faculty research.

The lab suite includes 6 rooms:

  • A reception lounge stylishly furnished for conducting experiments in a naturalized setting and for greeting guests or checking-in participants
  • Three small testing rooms, each with a one-way observation window and two computer workstations equipped with the latest communication research software
  • Focus Group Room with 10-seat executive conference table, one-way observation window, and unobtrusive audio-visual recording and playback equipment
  • Observation and control room seats 12 behind a one-way observation window
  • Small catering kitchen with microwave, refrigerator, and supplies

Room Scheduling and Usage Guidelines

The Communication Research Lab/Focus Group Room in 314 Murphy Hall is a jewel for supporting a wide-range of communication-related studies and data collection. This small, centrally located campus research facility offers an intimate setting and treasure of resources for graduate and faculty research.

314D Focus Group Room and Room 330 Observation Room

Priority of use is first to the SJMC graduate students and faculty doing research for thesis and doctoral dissertations, publication and grant-related studies and defenses.

Other University departments and/or individuals with SJMC faculty approval may use the facility for communication-related research – when available – at no cost (except for technical support requests).

314ABC Testing Rooms

These three rooms are reserved in the following order for:

  • Graduate student preliminary exams
  • Graduate and/or faculty research projects
  • Classroom use

Usage Guidelines

Users have access to the reserved rooms requested. Unused rooms are to remain locked. Users must not leave the room(s) unattended with students or study participants in it. If users must leave the room, the doors need to be locked. All users are liable for stolen, lost, or damaged equipment/furnishings during their reservation time.

Reservations

To reserve any of the rooms in the 314 suite and according to intended usage, please fill out this form, or contact the following individuals:

  • Scott Dierks: 612-624-7502 or sdierks@umn.edu
    Research Division, events, focus groups, student groups
  • Jennifer Welsh: 612-625-4054 or jwelsh@umn.edu 
    Graduate-related activities, prelims and final exams

Eye Tracker and ClearView Software

The Communication Research Lab/Focus Group Room in 314 Murphy Hall supports a wide-range of communication-related studies and data collection. This small, centrally located campus research facility offers an intimate setting and treasure of resources for graduate and faculty research.

In one of the three testing rooms in the research lab, there is a Tobii Eye Tracker* machine set up in a double computer configuration. One computer is dedicated to running the eye tracking software and the second computer is dedicated to the analysis using ClearView software.

Researchers interested in using the eye tracker machine for detecting and collecting eye gaze data will need a tutorial on using the equipment with advance notice.

The ClearView analysis software combines the collection and analysis of eye gaze data with numerous other data sources including key strokes, external devices, video recordings, web browser activity, and more. ClearView also provides mechanisms to interface with other software.

*The SJMC acknowledges and thanks the Psychology department for loaning its eye tracker machine for graduate and faculty research in the Communication Research Lab.