Monday, February 23, 2009

10 ways to use focus groups for evaluation

Are you wondering how you can use focus groups for your evaluations? Well, at yesterday's pre-conference session - Focus Group Methods, Richard Krueger handed out a great info sheet that included 10 ways you can use focus groups for evaluation.

1. Assessing needs and assets
You can use focus groups to learn about the needs/assets for a program, policy or organization, by gaining perspectives of a variety of stake holders, participants, etc.

2. Program planning and program design
Focus groups can help you determine why a program is successful or is failing, and they can give insight of barriers or motivational factors.

3. Designing evaluation, monitoring and inspection systems in complex environments
Focus groups can be used to determine what type of evaluation you should do, or what specific thing to evaluate.

4. Pilot testing intervention strategies, policies, delivery methods and more
Focus groups can help to determine which specific approach or strategy works best for implementation.

5. Formative or process evaluation
You can use focus groups to explore how exactly a program is functioning and to gain ongoing feedback from participants.

6. Using focus groups to evaluate organizational issues
Use them to figure out how to improve morale, increase productivity, and more.

7. Summative evaluation
Focus groups can be used when a program is complete, and you want to determine how objectives were met and indicators for success/failure.

8. Impact or outcome evaluation
Focus groups can be used when a program has been finished for some time and you want to explore long-term impacts/outcomes.

9. Using focus groups with another evaluation strategy
They can be used to narrow and refine survey questions, or edit/change your methodology.

10. Using focus groups in a participatory study
They can be used to empower an organization to do their own focus groups, to teach others how to do them, to build their capacity.

*Bonus- you can also use focus groups when searching for best practices. If your organization wants to add a new program, you can invite all those organizations that have a similar program and are doing it well to help determine best practices for a successful program.