Focus group discussions

I - What is a focus group discussion?...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

III – Before going to the field
   •   When preparing for an annual...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

IV – Data collection: how to conduct a focus group discussion
   •  ...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Source: WFP CFSVA guidelines, 2009

Source: WFP CFSVA guidelines...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Facilitation skills: what would you do if…

o The Focus Group partici...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

V - Discussion topics

Scenario A: A household outcome survey is being...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Topic and                Objective                         Examples of...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Topic and            Objective                          Examples of qu...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Topic and
                            Objective                       ...
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

V- Analysing and reporting the results of focus group discussions
TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions

Tips for conductin...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

APR Workshop 2010-M&E-TG3 focus group discussions


Published on

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

APR Workshop 2010-M&E-TG3 focus group discussions

  1. 1. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 Focus group discussions I - What is a focus group discussion? • A focus group discussion is a facilitated discussion among 8 to 12 carefully selected participants. The idea is that group members discuss the topic among themselves, with guidance from a facilitator. • It is a method used to obtain in-depth qualitative information on perceptions and ideas from a group of people who have something in common (e.g. they have a shared interest in discussing the topic) or who are from similar background. Homogeneous groups are indeed preferred because mixing age and gender groups may inhibit some people, especially women or the youth, from expressing their views in front of others. • Focus groups discussions are structured around a set of pre-determined questions – usually no more than 10 – but the discussion should be free-flowing. Ideally, participants’ comments will stimulate and influence the thinking and sharing of others. • If facilitated well, focus group discussions can bring out rich and detailed information. It generally stimulates rich responses and also provides a valuable opportunity to gain insights into behaviours, attitudes, and feelings. • It takes more than one focus group discussions on any one topic to produce valid results – usually 3 or 4. You will know you have conducted enough groups (with the same set of questions) when you are not hearing anything new anymore, i.e. you have reached a point of saturation. • Focus group discussions generate qualitative information and the output will be a textual description of a situation. As such, findings will not be representative of the views of the entire population. This is why focus group discussions are best used to complement the findings of RIMS surveys or annual outcome surveys, for example to understand better a specific finding emerging from these surveys. II - Limitations of focus group discussions • Facilitation of a focus group requires considerable skills – both in moderating the group and in adequately recording the responses. • The flexible format makes it susceptible to facilitator bias, which can undermine the validity and reliability of findings. • Discussions can be sidetracked or dominated by a few vocal individuals. • The information can be difficult to analyze; comments should be interpreted in the context of the group setting.
  2. 2. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions III – Before going to the field • When preparing for an annual outcome/RIMS survey exercise, choose the topics to be discussed in focus group discussions, and the specific information needs for each topic (e.g. the information you need in order to know whether a particular outcome was achieved and why/why not). • The number of discussion topics to address in focus group will mainly depend on (i) the number and type of project outcomes (some outcomes - such as agricultural production increase - are best measured with quantitative methods) and (ii) the time and resources available at project level (focus groups are cheaper and less time consuming than surveys). See section V for more details on the choice of the discussion topics. • For each discussion topic, prepare interview guides (ie. list of open-ended questions). Section V provides examples of questions to include in interview guides. Include a short narrative of the objective of the focus group in each interview guide, so that the facilitator always has in mind the objective of the discussion and can refocus if necessary. • In the interview guide you can leave blank space under each question so that the assistant facilitator can easily take note. In this case you will need to print one copy of the interview guide for each focus group. Example of a focus group interview guide outline Name of moderator: Name of assistant: Location: Date: Discussion topic: Objective of the focus group: Number of participants: Question 1 Question 2 Etc. General comments: • Pre-test the interview guides before going to the field. Pre-testing provides an opportunity to determine whether wording of the questions is appropriate, whether questions elicit discussion, and to identify questions that are not easily understood. Pre- testing can be conducted during the training of enumerators.
  3. 3. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions IV – Data collection: how to conduct a focus group discussion • At arrival in each village, talk to the village leader to present the work being carried out and ask for permission to interview village members. • You can conduct one or more focus group discussions in each village, but try not to discuss different topics with the same group. • Select participants for each focus group discussion. The selection of participants is extremely important. Focus group participants should be able to provide relevant information on the particular topic, and the group should be heterogeneous enough so that various and diverse opinions can be shared. It may be a good idea to consult the village leader(s) and field workers for identification of adequate focus groups participants. • Ideally, the focus group discussion should be led by a moderator and an assistant who takes notes. • Before starting the discussion, introduce the topic, explaining the objectives of the focus group (e.g. “this discussion should help us understand what impact project activities have had on women empowerment”). • Explain that every participant is expected to contribute to the discussion. Example: “Before we start, I would like to remind you that there are no right or wrong answers in this discussion. We are interested in knowing what each of you think, so please feel free to be frank and to share your point of view, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what you hear. It is very important that we hear all your opinions.” • The discussion should take no more than one hour. 45 minutes is ideal; if it is longer there is a risk of fatigue from the group participants. • The focus group moderator has a responsibility to adequately cover all prepared questions within the time allotted. S/he also has a responsibility to get all participants to talk and fully explain their answers. Some helpful probes for this include: - “Can you talk about that more?” - “Help me understand what you mean” - “Can you give an example?” • Take detailed notes during the discussion. This will facilitate the analysis. Ideally, the note taker should pre-analyse the results during the discussion, so that only the most important points are recorded.
  4. 4. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Source: WFP CFSVA guidelines, 2009 Source: WFP CFSVA guidelines, 2009
  5. 5. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Facilitation skills: what would you do if… o The Focus Group participants are very quiet, unresponsive and reluctant to answer your questions. o Some of the selected Focus Group participants are late in arriving. o A number of other local people (who were not selected as Focus Group participants) want to join the discussion. o When your facilitation team arrives the local authorities have set up the venue so that you have chairs and a table, but the participants have mats on the ground. o The discussion on one topic goes on for much longer than expected. o One of your data collection team is sick, or for another reason is unable to take part in the planned focus groups on a certain day. o The village leader wants to sit in on the focus group. o Some of the selected Focus Group participants do not come at all. o One Focus Group participant is dominating the discussion. o The venue for the Focus Group is noisy or uncomfortable so that participants are distracted during the discussion. o Your facilitation team are unexpectedly invited to join the village chief / local authorities for lunch, but you have arranged to leave in order to get to another Focus Group in the afternoon. o During the discussion some of the participants tell you about a serious problem (e.g. community conflict, child abuse, corruption, economic exploitation by others) which you feel it is important for the development programme to be aware of and/or take action on. o The facilitator in your team forgets to ask some questions. Source: Learning Unit 1.5b “Collecting and Recording Qualitative Data”. TDI 2.0 Capacity Building Program. World Vision, 2009.
  6. 6. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions V - Discussion topics Scenario A: A household outcome survey is being conducted1 • Focus group discussions will be conducted during the annual outcome survey field work, in the same villages were households are interviewed. • Since the survey will provide quantitative data for a certain number of outcomes, the focus group discussions should focus on aspects that are not covered by the household survey, or that need to be complemented by qualitative data. • The table below provides a list of discussion topics and questions that can be used to develop the interview guides. Topic and Objective Examples of questions participants 1- Gender and Assess the situation of women • What are the decision-making capacities of women women in the community and the in the household? in community activities? Was empowerment influence project activities there any change since the beginning of the project? have had on gender dynamics • What decisions are made by men and which by Participants: in the community. women? Women The discussion should focus beneficiaries • What different coping mechanisms are available to on the current role of women women and men to lessen the risk of food insecurity in the community, compared for their families? to the previous year or the situation before the project. • How do gender roles (e.g. workload, time, mobility) influence the ability of women and men to It should also enable the participate in the project? project team to understand what makes the women more • What does empowerment mean to you? How does powerful and how the this translate in every day life? situation can be further • Who is the family main income earner? improved. • Do women actively participate in micro-credit related income generating activities? Was there a change since the beginning of the project? • Are there any women’s groups formed in the village? Are they functioning? Why/why not? • Do women have same access to loans as men? Was there any change since the beginning of the project? • What is the level of participation of women in social gatherings, community meetings and in development activities? Was there any change since the beginning of the project? • Do women have ownership or usufruct (right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property of another without altering or damaging the substance) rights? • Do you have control over the income you earn? Was 1 See TG1 for guidelines on how to conduct a household survey
  7. 7. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Topic and Objective Examples of questions participants there any change since the beginning of the project? • Do you observe any inequalities in work load, wage rate, access to economic resources, between women and men? Was there any change since the beginning of the project? 2- Innovative Identify innovative practices • Have you recently developed new/innovative practices put in place in the community practices for agricultural production? Livestock? since the beginning of the Fish? project. Participants: Project • Do you observe new income generating activities in beneficiaries The innovative practices can the village? What is new about them? Do they work (farmers, fisher be anything that improved the well? folks, pastoralists) living conditions of the • Did the project give you ideas/opportunities for community members (related applying innovative practices either to production increase, social aspects, health etc..) • Do you know anyone whom you would qualify as an innovative person. Why? The data collection team must be very clear on the definition of an innovation. 3- Natural Assess whether natural • How do you consider the state of natural resources resources resources are declining and if in your community? Has it been improving or project activities have a declining in the recent years? Participants: village positive impact on NRM. • Has the project done anything to improve natural members who earn If no impact, understand why resources management? How? Did you observe any income from natural and discuss how better impact? Explain resources effectiveness can be achieved. • Patterns in access to land, water resources, pastures, and other community resources. • What is the land tenure system? Was it improved by project? Do you have more access to land now? • What are the main constraints and opportunities for getting access to natural resources? Do you observe a change since the beginning of project activities? 4- Sustainability Assess whether the • Are there any groups functioning in the village? community will continue to Were they created by/for the project? Participants: benefit from projects • Do you think these groups will remain operational beneficiaries, outcomes after the end of the after the end of the project? Why/why not? members of groups project. Why and how. created by/for the • What are the activities that will/will not continue to project have an impact after the project? 5- Microfinance Identify the microfinance • What types of financial institutions exist to support services that work well and do economic activities in your community? Participants: not work well in the village • Do you have access to loans? What kind of loan? members of saving and understand why. groups, people • How many saving groups were formed in the Assess whether the poorest accessing credit, village? households effectively benefit people having from microfinance schemes • How many are currently functional?
  8. 8. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Topic and Objective Examples of questions participants difficulties in (targeting) • What are the main problems encountered by the accessing credit saving groups? • What are the main types of financial services available in the village? Did financial services improve since the beginning of the project? Why/why not? 6- Project impact Capture unintended and/or • What have been the most significant changes in undesirable effects of the your life since the beginning of project activities? Participants: project at household and • Are you satisfied about the project activities in your Beneficiaries men village/community level. village? Why/why not? and women Identify individuals for success • Any success story on how project activities have stories or case studies impacted your life? • Any negative impact of the project on your life? On the village social structure? 7- Empowerment of Assess whether grassroots • Are there any farmers’ groups in the village? grassroots institutions are effective and • Do they participate in decision making at institutions respond to the needs of the project/local level? community. Participants: • Are grassroots institutions available to self-monitor grassroots Understand how they could and evaluate their own progress? organizations be more powerful and have members more impact. • Change in capacity to market own production? Identify problems and find • Terms and conditions of marketing arrangements? solutions to make them more • What are the different types of the organizations effective. that work in the community? What are their activities? Who benefits? Any impact at village/household level? • What are the community-based groups currently operating? What are their activities? Who benefits? Scenario B: No household survey is being conducted • Given that no quantitative/household level information will be gathered, outcome assessment will be based only on qualitative information generated through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. • For each discussion topic, 3-4 villages must be selected. Villages can be selected according to the type of project activities conducted. For example, focus groups on NR will be conducted in villages with large number of NRM activities. For gender issues, villages with gender activities are selected, etc. • The table below gives examples of discussion topics for projects where no household survey is conducted. These topics must be considered in addition to topics provided for scenario A.
  9. 9. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Topic and Objective Suggested questions participants 8- Agricultural Assess levels of agricultural • How do you manage getting access to food in times technologies and production and recent of scarcity? production trends • For how many months can you meet your own Participants: Farmers/ consumption from your own production or from producers your own cash? • What do you think the food security situation will be in the next 6 months? Is this normal for your community? 9- Markets Understand whether access • Were roads constructed or rehabilitated in the area? to markets has improved Are they functioning well? Participants: farmers, and how marketing people who get an • Are they used to go to the market? Why/why not? opportunities can be income from selling further developed for small • Do you use any storage facilities? Processing products at the farmers facilities? market • Have they been improved since the beginning of the project? 10- Enterprise Assess whether new • Are there more employment opportunities in the development and employment opportunities area since the beginning of the project? employment have arisen in the • Why/why not? community as a result of project activities • Do you observe more enterprises now than few years ago? Do you know many community members who have created their own enterprise? Did they receive any help from the project? • Do you know of any enterprise that graduated from micro to small or from small to medium? 11- Social Understand how social • Any social infrastructure constructed by the project? infrastructure infrastructure are used and Is it functioning? Is it sustainable? whether they respond to Participants: users of • Is the infrastructure used by the community? By the needs of the community the social whom exactly? Are users satisfied about the infrastructure, infrastructure? members of the • Problems related to the use and management of the management team social infrastructure? 12- Quality of project Assess the perception of • How would you assess the quality of the training services the beneficiaries as regard attended? to the quality of project Participants: project • Did the training respond to your needs? services, and identify beneficiaries who measures for improvement • Did you apply any new technique since you received received training or the training? If not, why? participated in activity conducted by a • Are there any extension services provided in the partner (NGO, MoA community? staff, etc.) • How do you consider their quality? It is improving or deteriorating?
  10. 10. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions V- Analysing and reporting the results of focus group discussions • The analysis of the focus groups results is basically a consolidation of summaries of the interviews. • As per household surveys, the analysis should be guided by the performance questions of the project. The following section is adapted from WFP CFSVA guidelines: The analyst of qualitative data is expected to pull together the summaries from the focus groups and produce a global picture. The analyst (or the person responsible for writing the report) may be a different person from the focus group facilitator. She/he may not be familiar with the language of the discussion. It is therefore crucial to have the facilitators and the analyst sit down together for a proper translation of the summaries. If the note taker and facilitator took notes and summarized the results following a standard template, the analysis can proceed with the following steps: 1. Consolidate focus group responses: Pull into one table the summaries of the focus groups. Read all the tables and recode the answers: give the same label to similar answers. For instance, if one focus group reported “food vendor” and another reported “vegetable vendor,” recode; if judged similar in the local context, these answers can use the same label (e.g. “food vendor” for both). 2. Arrange the rows for each table separately so that all the responses of one focus group are in the same row: Do this for all the tables (focus groups). At the end, all the tables should be transformed into rows and the final qualitative data table should have as many rows as the number of focus groups. Source: WFP CFSVA guidelines vulnerability-analysis-cfsva-guidelines-first-edition How to structure open-ended information for easy analysis a) produce a short summary of the main points mentioned by each respondent for each question b) look over the responses. Once you have looked at about 25% of the responses, note the points most frequently mentioned. Then read all the responses and divide the responses into those “for” or “against” a certain issue, or by degree of enthusiasm about an issue. c) take out any important quote to emphasis certain points and make the analysis more lively d) ask other people to look over the responses to prevent your own biases taking over the way you interpret the responses e) number each respondent f) following the list of points you developed in step b above, number the main points. Through this numbered coding system, prioritise, summarise and then analyse the information. Source: IFAD M&E guidelines p.D-15 Links On-line training module on focus group discussion:
  11. 11. TECHNICAL GUIDELINES No3 - Focus group discussions Tips for conducting focus groups interviews: WFP technical guidance sheet on qualitative data analysis: analysis-food-security-assessments