Focus Groups

Focus groups is type of group interview designed to explore peoples attitudes. It can be used to find out what issues  are of most concern for a community or group when little or no information is  available. They are a very common technique but are can be poorly executed unless well planned and facilitated. 


"Focus groups aim to discover the key issues of concern for selected groups. Discovering these issues can help determine which of a number of options is the preferred way forward, or to determine what are the concerns that would prevent a proposal going ahead. The focus group may also be undertaken to discover preliminary issues that are of concern to a group or community, and on which to base further research or consultation. 

Focus groups should deliver detailed knowledge of the issues that concern a specific demographic or community."

Source: Department of Sutainability and Environment (2005) 


Moderating Focus Groups. [30:13 minute video on YouTube]

Richard Krueger and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota prepared this short video in 2004 to demonstrate a focus group interview. The video illustrates some of the techniques used when moderating. You can find more resources on focus groups by Richard Kruegar on his website.


Avice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)

  • A focus groups enables a group of people to discuss an issue in a structured manner.
  • Keep in mind that sometimes it is difficult to recruit people

Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)

Careful consideration needs to be given to:

  • Who attends – normally a homogenous group of 8-12 people who are randomly selected.
  • What are the questions – typically about six questions are discussed, the first being general and then these become more specific
  • Facilitation skills with the moderator leading the discussion by asking open ended questions while managing group dynamics
  • Recording and reporting – often tapes or videos record the discussion

Focus groups are useful for probing a topic in-depth and generally last about 1.5 – 2 hours.




Department of Sustainability and Environment (2005), Book 3: The Engagement Toolkit.Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders, The Community Engagement Network Resource and Regional Services Division Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment. Retrieved from

Man holding a lecture to people using the bulletin board by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Updated: 11th October 2017 - 10:44am
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A special thanks to this page's contributors
Research Assistant, RMIT University.


Alice Macfarlan's picture
Alice Macfarlan

Hi Thawascha,

Thanks for your comment. You might find some of the resources on BetterEvaluation for Focus Group useful in this regard. One which comes to mind is this guide to conducting focus groups, or the Engagement Toolkit.

Kind regards,

Alice Macfarlan

BetterEvaluation Website Administrator

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