- Objective: To better understand meanings, values and perceptions relating to a particular issue.
- Materials/Preparation: Notepads, pens, key questions. If time permits, discussions should be piloted and adjusted before the study itself, and adapted for different categories of participants (men, women, boys, girls, different classes, or characteristics, etc.). To prepare staff for research, teams may conduct mock discussions.
- Participants: Men and women, boys or girls across age groups. Preferably around 5-10 per group.
Like most of the approaches outlined in this site, there are no set steps for focus-group discussions.
In the M&E Toolkit, Tom Barton outlines a number of key steps for conducting a focus-group discussion:
- Design a discussion topic guide: this should have open-ended questions, and teams must consider a logical and natural sequence to them. The questions should stimulate discussion and bring out varied points of view.Helpful examples of focus group discussion question guides include:
Rights and Responsibilities
Sexual and Reproductive Health: Rites, Customs and Kinship/Marriage Traditions
If FGC is mentioned as a requirement for marriage, the research team asked:
- Decide on the number of focus groups – generally at least two for each ‘type’ of respondent.
- Determine how the respondents will be recruited. Specific criteria for recruitment should be decided beforehand, along with the best strategy for finding such persons.
- Be ready to hold additional sessions if the discussion does not succeed
- Focus groups should usually be composed of people who do not have strong status differences (age, gender, class, education, language, etc.) – this helps to create a comfortable environment for discussion.
- Select appropriate facilitators: consider matching by age, gender, or language
- Pretest focus groups with members of a similar nearby community.
Similar to other exercises, the team should first introduce the study and the team, and explain the purpose of the session to the group. Before changing to a new topic, be sure each person has had at least one opportunity to provide his/her ideas.
Throughout discussions, the facilitator should probe in order to gain deeper knowledge from the discussion, but session times should be managed to compose about an hour (including introduction).
View more tools related to:
- Preliminary Foundations: Broader Context
- Gendered/Sexual Division of Labor
- Household Decision-making
- Access/Control over Productive Assets (and Benefits)
- Access to Public Spaces and Services
- Claiming Rights and Meaningful Participation in Public Decision-making
- Control over One's Body
- Violence and Restorative Justice
- Aspirations and Strategic Interests
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- CARE (2007). Ideas and Action: Addressing the Social Factors that Influence Sexual and Reproductive Health.
- T Barton (1998). Program Impact Evaluation Process: M&E Tool Box. CARE International – Uganda.