What is a Focus Group Discussion (FGD)?

FGD Is – Have you ever heard of the term FGD when talking about a serious discussion or conversation? What do you mean? So, to find out about FGDs, you can watch this article until it’s finished, Sinaumed’s.

Definition of FGD

Focus Group Discussion (FGD) is a qualitative data collection method that gathers community members to discuss certain topics. The questions are open-ended in nature with the aim of stimulating informal discussion and exploring people’s views in greater detail than is possible through surveys. FGDs usually last 60-90 minutes and involve between 6 and 12 participants.

The strengths of FGDs depend on allowing participants to agree or disagree with each other, thus providing insight into how a group thinks about an issue, regarding the range of opinions and ideas, and the inconsistencies and variations that exist within a given community in terms of beliefs and experiences and practices they.

FGDs can be used to explore the meaning of survey findings that cannot be explained statistically, share opinions or views on topics of interest and to collect various local terms. In bridging research and policy, FGDs can be useful in providing insight into differences of opinion among various parties involved in the change process, thereby enabling the process to be managed more smoothly. This FGD is also a good method to use before designing a questionnaire.

Definition of FGD According to Experts

Each of the experts has its own statement that can explain the purpose of the focus group discussion . Here’s each explanation that deserves a closer look:

1. Krueger  

Krueger defines FGDs as well-planned discussions to obtain data from respondents. Meanwhile, this discussion was carried out in a relaxed atmosphere and was guided by a moderator who could make the atmosphere as relaxed as possible until there was an occasional ice-breaking session .

2. Anita Gibbs    

Focus group discussion according to Anita Gibbs is a discussion that has the main objective of utilizing the attitudes, feelings, reactions, and experiences of respondents when discussing a specific issue. Meanwhile, aspects like this will not be easily obtained through other methods such as interviews.

3. Irwanto

Then, Irwanto said that focus group discussions are activities to collect data related to specific problems by involving groups in a systematic discussion.

4. Peter & Zuzanna 

FGD according to Peter and Zuzanna refers to research methods and data collection techniques that involve certain groups of people so that specific topics can be discussed in depth.

5. Tobias, et al 

Finally, Tobias et al. interpret focus group discussion as a qualitative research method that is often used to discuss a social issue in depth.

FGD goals

These frequently used terms as tools provide guidance or have objectives for conducting effective FGDs, including organization, roles and responsibilities, and questions to help us plan, monitor and evaluate approaches to community engagement.

Process Outline

The FGD session needs to be carefully prepared by identifying the main objectives of the meeting, developing key questions, developing an agenda, and planning how to record the session. The next step is to identify and invite appropriate discussion participants; the ideal number is between six and eight.

An important element of the FGD is facilitation. Some important things to keep in mind in facilitating FGDs are ensuring equal participation, careful wording of key questions, maintaining a neutral demeanor and appearance, and summarizing the session to reflect opinions evenly and fairly.

A detailed report should be prepared after the session is over. Any observations during the session should be recorded and included in the report.

FGDs can also be conducted online . This is especially useful for overcoming the distance barrier. While the discussion is limited, a written format can help report the discussion.

Stages in the FGD

After we become more familiar with the concept of FGDs, there are other things that are no less important to know, namely the steps we must take to be able to conduct the FGDs themselves well. In this case, in fact there are many things that must be prepared. Even so, there are 6 main stages that can outline it. Here are the 6 stages!

1. Select Moderators

Sinaumed’s, the first step in starting to focus on FGDs is to choose a moderator who can be assigned to manage the discussion so that the goals can be achieved according to plan. Meanwhile, the main criteria for an FGD moderator are as follows:

  • Professional
  • critical thinking
  • Have good analytical skills
  • Speak plainly and clearly
  • Neutral and objective
  • Be firm and stay calm
  • Good observer and listener
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2. Prepare the Team

The next step is to form a team for a smooth discussion process. In one team, the number of people can be adjusted according to our needs. Sinaumed’s, don’t forget to share clear tasks for each member involved.

For example, there will be members tasked with recording time or important points, dealing with technical issues, and documenting activities. If the tasks and members have been formed, all that remains is to determine the location and date of the FGD.

3. Present the Topic and Ask Questions 

Next, we have to divide the existing members into several groups. In one group, it can consist of 4 to 5 members for the mini discussion model, and 8 to 12 people if the discussion model is larger. If everything is in order, the moderator only needs to explain regarding the topic, rules, and time distribution.

In focus group discussions , the types of questions are open-ended so that group members can give each other opinions.

4. Summarize the contents of the discussion 

The team assigned as the note taker must record every important point during the discussion. This includes the responses expressed by the participants. These members can also perform recording techniques to be more effective in providing information. The reason is, there could have been missed by the minutes, right?

5. Data Analysis

When the discussion is over, the data recorded by the minutes will be analyzed by another team assigned to it. Meanwhile, the things that are analyzed are:

  • Opinion of each respondent
  • Respondent’s attitude in defending his opinion
  • Discussion patterns
  • General conclusion

The importance of the analysis relates to the purpose of the discussion itself. Sinaumed’s needs to know that the purpose of the FGD is definitely to get comprehensive and in-depth information on a topic from the interactions that take place during the discussion.

6. Make a Decision 

The final stage is that the team will make a final decision based on the results of the analysis. Generally, this decision is in the form of a public opinion that will reflect the topics discussed in the FGD.

The decision will be in the form of members who pass because they meet the recruiter’s criteria, if the FGD is held in the context of selection.

Now, it is increasingly clear that the FGD is a focused discussion that is carried out in order to collect deeper data from several respondents. Sinaumed’s must be prepared for the FGD process if they are involved in research, applying for a job, or a special project, right!

How Do FGDs Support Community Engagement?

FGD can be used during assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation. The following is a complete explanation.

1. During the assessment

FGDs can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the context in society including community beliefs and values, social and cultural characteristics, power dynamics, capacities, and perceptions in assessments for additional guidance.

2. During planning

FGDs can be used to identify and prioritize solutions with the community, agree on program outcomes, activities, roles and responsibilities, and how we should work with the community during the program.

3. For monitoring

FGDs can be used to find out how well the program meets the needs of the community, whether it reaches the right people, supports independence and resilience and whether the community is satisfied with the quality of information, participation and influence they have over the program.

4. During the evaluation

FGDs can be used to evaluate whether the program meets community needs, whether support is relevant and timely, whether they are satisfied with the quality of information, participation and influence they have over the program and if there is anything they would like to improve the program in the future.

How to Conduct FGD in the Community

Plan the FGD

  • FGDs need a facilitator and note taker. Ideally the facilitator should have prior experience in facilitating FGDs.
  • Make sure the facilitator and note taker can speak the community language fluently or can work with an interpreter. Always run questions with translators first to make sure they understand it.
  • Translate all FGD questions into the relevant local language and test them with native speakers to make sure they make sense and are culturally appropriate.
  • It can help to practice FGD first through role play with the team, including translators.
  • Plan with the local branch where and when the FGD will be held and who should participate, so they can plan it with the community. Try to avoid participants being voted for by community leaders as this could introduce bias.
  • Consider whether to provide food and drink, but don’t pay community members to take part.

Setting up groups

  • Identify a private room to hold the FGD so that not many people are listening.
  • Limit the number of people taking part to a maximum of 12, otherwise the conversation will be difficult to control. Ask community volunteers or community representatives to help you control numbers and offer to hold additional FGDs if more people want to participate so they don’t feel left out.
  • The participation of a community leader can influence the answers people give. A good tactic is to have other team members conduct key informant interviews with community leaders at the same time as the FGD.
  • Have people sit in a circle according to the diagram below:
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At the beginning

  • Introduce yourself and explain the purpose and duration of the FGD and allow participants to introduce themselves.
  • Ask for people’s consent to participate and permission to take notes.
  • Explain clearly that participating in the FGD does not guarantee that the community will receive support, nor does the community have to participate to receive support.
  • It can help to agree on ground rules up front, such as everyone has the right to speak, not to interrupt one another, there are no right answers, people can choose not to answer questions, and that anything shared should be kept private.

When asking a question:

  • Do not ask “yes/no” or leading questions (i.e., “Do you agree that…?”)
  • Don’t get hung up on questions and rush through them. FGDs are open conversations, not surveys, so ask follow-up questions if something interesting comes up.
  • Ask sensitive questions in a polite and sensitive way, and know when to move on if a topic makes people feel uncomfortable.
  • Encourage everyone to talk. If someone isn’t speaking, ask for their opinion or if someone is talking too much, ask what the rest of the group thinks.
  • Don’t judge what people say, listen openly, even if you disagree and don’t react negatively to people’s answers.
  • If people raise issues related to protection or sexual exploitation and abuse, let them talk as much as they want but don’t pressure them for details in front of the group. Speak with them separately at the end of the FGD and ask for their permission to follow up on the matter and take their contact details. Sinaumed’s may need to refer this to the authorities.

At the end

  • Ask people if they have questions for us.
  • Explain the next steps and be careful not to make promises or raise expectations about what will happen next.
  • Express gratitude to everyone for their time.

After Conducting FGD

  • Review notes and add additional details so they won’t be forgotten.
  • Debrief with the team to get additional information about group dynamics, or changes to be made for the next FGD.
  • Analyze and use the information gathered during the FGDs, otherwise it will be a waste of time and may cause frustration in the community. Analysis includes:
  • For assessments, the FGD findings should be incorporated into the assessment report and will provide a deeper understanding of the community context and how to ensure that the community can participate in the planning stages.
  • For planning, FGD findings should be used to inform program design including activities, methods and how to ensure good participation, information sharing and feedback management.
  • For monitoring and evaluation, the feedback findings can be organized into what is working or working well and what is not working well and needs to be changed either during the current program or for future programmes.
  • Don’t forget to provide feedback to community leaders, representatives or local volunteers about the results of the FGD. Too often people take part in FGDs and then never hear from the agency again and this affects their willingness to take part in future discussions.

Difference between FGD and Interview

FGD is often compared to the interview method by jobseekers . In fact, the FGD method is completely different from the interview. The two are not the same even though they are both used in the recruitment process.

Channel Play said that the first difference between interviews and FGDs was the number of participants. If interviews are generally conducted individually when the candidate will be alone talking to the recruiter in a closed room, the FGD will be held with around 4-15 people in an open room.

Meanwhile, each participant must follow certain rules that usually do not exist in conventional interviews.

Not only that, the duration of the FGD is generally longer than the interview. The reason is, FGDs can last for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the pattern of discussion during the process. Meanwhile, the interview will take at least 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how the candidate answers the recruiter’s questions.

Lastly, this is the main difference between the interview and the FGD. Interviews are conducted so that recruiters see the career aspirations and goals of candidates if they are accepted by the company. Meanwhile, the FGD aims for companies to know the mindset, personality, and abilities of each candidate in depth.

Sinaumed’s, that’s an explanation regarding FGD broadly in various purposes. You can visit the sinaumedia.com website for more insights regarding group activities or self-development! #MoreWithReading.


Author: Sevilla Nouval Evanda