- Inside the Guide
- What is...
- Why and how to use The Good Enough Guide
- 1. Involve people at every stage
- 2. Profile the people affected by the emergency
- 3. Identify the changes people want to see
- 4. Track changes and make feedback a two-way process
- 5. Use feedback to improve project impact
- 6. Tools
- Tool 1: How to introduce your agency: a need-to-know checklist
- Tool 2: How accountable are you? Checking public information
- Tool 3: How to involve people throughout the project
- Tool 4: How to profile the affected community and assess initial needs
- Tool 5: How to conduct an individual interview
- Tool 6: How to conduct a focus group
- Tool 7: How to decide whether to do a survey
- Tool 8: How to assess child-protection needs
- Tool 9: How to observe
- Tool 10: How to start using indicators
- Tool 11: How to hold a lessons-learned meeting
- Tool 12: How to set up a complaints and response mechanism
- Tool 13: How to give a verbal report
- Tool 14: How to say goodbye
- 7. Other accountability initiatives
- 8. Sources, further information, and abbreviations
- Thank you
The Good Enough Guide
Tool 6: How to conduct a focus group
If possible, conduct a few focus groups and compare the information you are collecting from these and other sources.
What is a focus group?
Six to twelve people are invited to discuss specific topics in detail. The focus group can bring together people who have something in common. They may share a particular problem, or be unable to speak up at larger meetings (for example, younger people, women, or minority groups), or are people only peripherally involved in the community, such as nomads. It is best not to have leaders or people in authority present – interview them separately.
Why only six to twelve people?
In a larger group:
- Speaking time will be restricted and dominant people will speak most
- The facilitator will have to play more of a controlling role
- Some members of the group will become frustrated if they cannot speak
- Participants will start talking to one other rather than to the group as a whole
- The group may stop focusing and start talking about something else
What do you need?
- An experienced facilitator: a native speaker who can lead, draw out the people who are not talking, and stop others from talking too much
- Time to prepare open-ended questions and select focus-group members
- One, sometimes two, people to note in writing what is said
- A common language
- A quiet place where the group will not be overheard or interrupted
- To sit in a circle and be comfortable
- Shared understanding and agreement about the purpose of the discussion
- Ground rules, for example: everyone has a right to speak; no one has the right answer; please don’t interrupt
- Permission from the group to take notes (or maybe use a tape recorder)
- About one to one-and-a-half hours and some refreshments
- The facilitator makes sure everyone has a chance to speak and that the discussion stays focused
- The note-taker writes notes
- At the end of the session, the facilitator gives a brief summing up of what has been said in case someone has something to add
- The facilitator checks that the written record has captured the main points and reflected the level of participants’ involvement in the discussion.
From V. M. Walden (no date) ‘Focus group discussion’, Oxfam (internal. adapted); L. Gosling and M. Edwards (2003) Toolkits: a practical guide to planning, monitoring, evaluation and impact measurement, Save the Children (adapted); USAID (1996) Performance Monitoring and Evaluation TIPS No. 10, USAID Centre for Development Information and Evaluation(adapted).