Introduction to Focused Group discussion (FGD)
- Focused Group Discussions are conducted to derive the information from the discussion of a group of people.
- The person who is asking questions and regulating the content and direction of discussion is called a moderator.
- The person who is assisting the moderator and observing the group members during the discussion is called an observer. Observers are not always necessary if moderator is very skilled.
Selection of Group
- Groups should be between 4-8 in size depending on sensitivity of issue.
- Groups should be homogenous to avoid large differences in opinions and conflicts during the discussion. For example, if the researcher wants to investigate the causes of religious riots, they should not include Hindus and Muslims in the same group.
- For collecting diverse opinions, the researcher may carry out separate FGDs.
- The researcher can put the members of both genders in the same group if the researcher does not intend to ask personal questions or when women are confident to speak about the issue in front of other gender.
- Try to locate people in the village for FGD who are continuously involved in discussions on common meeting points of village e.g. chowk (squares), chabutra (common place), dharamshala (inn) etc.
Guidelines for carrying out Focused Group Discussion
- The discussion should focus only on a specific issue and its different aspect. Therefore, the researcher should avoid the deviation from the particular issue. This interviewer/ moderator can keep the focus on the issue at hand by repeating or rephrasing the question when the informant/group members pause or deviate.
- Try to involve each member in the discussion.
- Don’t advocate social reform while asking questions. Don’t take sides too.
- Don’t ask leading questions to get an answer that you want them to say. For example, don’t ask them, “I think you don’t get the sufficient wages for your work. What do you think?
- Don’t let the discussion become focused around few members of the group.
- Reach a consensus between the group members about the way of carrying out the discussion.
- Ask the members if their discussion can be recorded on camera or microphone.
- Tell them that none of the members should leave the discussion if they disagree with someone but wait for their turn to put their point.
Types of Questions in FGD
Here, we take the example of a study to the issue of wage discrimination.
- Probing questions: These are questions to solicit information about the issue, the researcher wants to address. For example, “What are you wages?”
- Follow-up questions: The are question to get further information from the groups after they have responded to probing questions. For example, “Are these wages sufficient?” if not “Why do you thing so?”
- Exit questions: These are the questions which a researcher should ask at the end of discussion to ascertain if the groups wants to provide more information or if something is missing. For example, “Is there anything, you want to add?”
Information for the group members
The aim of the study is to know the differing opinions of members of different communities regarding the causes and consequences of the poverty among rural laborers. We will be, specifically, focusing on wages of rural laborers. Please don’t hesitate to put your opinion but without bullying the other group members or by offending them by your language or gestures.
By carrying out FGD in this manner, the researcher will be impartial and extract correct information while being respectful to group members.
Kulwinder Singh is an alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and working as Assistant Professor of Geography at Pt. C.L.S. Government College, Kurukshetra University. He is a passionate teacher and avid learner.