A group of usually 7-10 people selected to engage in discussions designed for the purpose of sharing insights and observations, obtaining perceptions or opinions, suggesting ideas, or recommending actions on a topic of concern. A focus group discussion is a method of collecting data for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
In evaluation, focus groups have been used for purposes of:
| ===== Preparing a Focus Group ===== - Identify the main goal of the focus groups. - Select 6-10 participants (they should have strong feelings about the issue to be discussed and also have similar characteristics, such as the same age or the same status). - Avoid involving friends in the same session, since they can form cliques. - Plan your session (consider that the meeting should last 1.5 hours approximately). - Phrase five to six open and neutral questions to ask the participants (be careful to formulate them in a language the participants are familiar with). - Send the participants an invitation explaining the goal of the meeting, the proposed agenda, the main issue to be discussed and the related questions. - Set a quite room and arrange the chairs in a circle (if possible, around a table). - Plan to record the session (using audio/audio-video recorder) or ask a co-facilitator to take notes during the meeting.===== Running Focus Group ===== - Welcome the participants. - Ask the participants to introduce themselves and, eventually, to wear name tags. - Review the agenda. - Introduce the main goal of the meeting. - Ask the questions you have prepared and reflect back a summary of participants’ answers. - Ensure balanced participation: if there is somebody dominating the session, invite participants to speak in turn; respect participants’ right to be silent but give them the chance to express themselves in a one-to-one context (for instance, during a break). - Let disagreements arise, since they can lead to interesting and innovative ideas, but be careful in managing them. - Avoid sharing your personal opinion with the group. - Keep the discussion on track.(source: UNITAR learning & training wiki: Focus groups)
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