Focus Group Discussion Method of Data Collection

Focus Group Discussion (FGD) is a method of data collection which is frequently used to collect in-depth qualitative data in various descriptive studies such as case studies, phenomenological and naturalistic studies). The main goal of Focus Group Discussion is to provide an opportunity for the participants to talk to one another about a specific area of study. The facilitator is there to guide the discussion.


Limitations of Focus Group Discussion

Despite the strength of FGD in soliciting in-depth information, the method is limited in terms of the following:

  • Unlike questionnaires and interviews, the Focus Group Discussion method is not a good way to obtain numerical information,
  • When interpreting the information gathered through FGD, one should remember that the consensus that usually forms in a group does not necessarily represent the opinions of all the members. Frequently, a few individuals tend to dominate the discussion and the less assertive people tend not to contribute. Thus, FGD may not be a representative method of data collection.


In a study conducted by Wanjohi (2006) entitled ‘Assessing the Most Pressing Issues in Developing Economy, Kenya’s Perspective’, the researcher used Focus Group Discussion to collect data from the participants.

The Diocese Youth Coordinator assisted the principal researcher in selecting groups from the Diocese parents’ fraternity. Purposive sampling procedure was used to arrive at the group. The choice of selection depended on the group’s awareness about youth issues in the Diocese.  The total numbers of those selected were thirty two (n=32) parents. The researcher grouped them into 4 groups each having 8 members. It was believed that a group between 7 and 10 individuals would provide a setting for effective communication and decision making (Witkin & Altschuld, 1995).

The main purpose of the focus group discussion was to provide the direction and support for the assessment. Focus groups membership consisted of the participants from the selected Diocese,  representing various occupations, gender and age groups. In addition, the focus groups assisted the researcher with provision of information on the issues and concerns facing the youth in the Diocese. FGD also helped in soliciting in-depth information on the solutions to the issues facing the youth in the Diocese.

Anthony M. Wanjohi


Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.