A great way of data collection requires the collation of feelings and opinions of respondents. It involves the usage of open-ended questions primarily and allows free reign of ideas or opinions..
A focus group discussion (FGD) is an informal, guided discussion about a particular research or program topic It is also defined as a loosely structured discussion among six to ten individuals that is used to gather information on a particular research or program topic. A moderator, who guides the discussion, encourages participants to talk freely and reveal their thoughts and feelings about the research topic. FGDs are repeated with several groups of similar makeup until the discussions no longer reveal anything new and relevant to the research.
Here are 15 pointers to make it better!
What are the 7 DOs in an FGD?
Ask open-ended questions, one at a time. Probe when a response is unclear. Ask, “Can you say more about…” instead of “Why do you think…” The latter may make participants feel they need to defend their point of view.
Pay attention to non-verbal signals–someone might be sending a cue that she/he is uncomfortable or might have something to say.
Open the session with a fun, non-threatening, open-ended question; this will enable everyone to develop a comfort level with speaking in front of the group and sharing their ideas.
Balance participation by asking, “Who else has something to say?” or “I would like to hear more from…”
Redirect the discussion when it strays too far off topic. Say something like, “These are important and interesting points. However, we need to bring the discussion back to our main focus on....”
Record the participants’ actual words as much as possible. Avoid the temptation to paraphrase. This will show each participant that his/her ideas are unique and important.
Check with participants that you understand what they are saying.
What about the 8 Don't s in an FGD
Read the script questions verbatim; this may come across too stiff and formal.
Finish people’s sentences or make assumptions about what is being said by someone. - Big NO NO!
Allow one or two people to dominate or to use the focus group for their own agenda.
Permit side discussion; this can distract others from the main discussion.
Share your own opinions (verbally or non-verbally).
Take sides or challenge what is being said; remain impartial.
Favor one participant over the others.
Use jargon or technical terms.
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