M&E staff chooses appropriate qualitative method(s) to meet information needs
M&E staff chooses appropriate qualitative method(s) to meet
There are many common methods to generate qualitative data. These methods
include focus groups discussions, semistructured interviews, key informant
interviews, social mapping, seasonal calendars, Venn diagrams and several other
rapid and participatory rural appraisal (RRA/PRA) tools. Selecting methods
inappropriate for your M&E activity is likely to produce unclear data or result in
more questions than the data answered.
Qualitative methods often differ for evaluation and for monitoring. Evaluation
methods are more rigorous and likely to include focus groups and any other tools
that are directly comparable with baseline data. Qualitative monitoring data are
collected more frequently and through both more and less structured methods.
Monitoring often includes multiple qualitative methods to capture formal
monitoring data (linked to ProFrame indicators) and informal data to monitor
changes in the context and gain immediate feedback on project activities. For
monitoring, create tools that focus on the implementation of specific project activities
andearly indicators of change at the household and community levels, or that allow
respondents to provide their perspective on changes in the overall community
context (which may affect future project activities or impact).
Ideally, collect qualitative data through focus group and other qualitative methods
prior to any quantitative data collection exercise, so you can develop or refine
quantitative questions and tools based on qualitative findings.
Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools refer to a series of qualitative tools that
emphasize local participation and knowledge and facilitate a community-led process
for identifying problems or constraints and formulating action plans.
PRA tools include the following:
Semistructured interviews follow a fairly open framework that guides the
interviewer to cover certain topics but leaves room for additional topics or
questions that may arise.
Semistructured interviews are particularly
useful for information monitoring as they allow iterative questions to be
developed based on the interviewees‘ feedback and interests.
Participatory mapping uses spatial analysis to gather information about a
range of issues and concerns.
Direct observation allows staff to record behaviors, practices,
infrastructure and landmarks. For example, staff can observe which crops
households planted in fields, the quality of housing structures and the
education techniques used in a classroom. Transect walks are a great tool
for direct observation of a village‘s context and layout.
Venn diagrams map social relationships both within the community and
with other communities and organizations.
Calendars record seasonal issues and changes throughout the year related
to agriculture, food security and health.
Wealth ranking provides greater understanding of the distribution of
wealth and resources.
Historical profiles provide a chronology of events of interest and are
particularly useful to identify a community‘s vulnerability to risks.
Focus group discussions are a common qualitative tool used to solicit a group‘s
perspective regarding a series of topics or issues during both monitoring and
evaluation activities. Focus group discussions are not simply question-and-answer
sessions. The aim is for participants to discuss the questions amongst themselves
with guidance from a facilitator. The facilitator asks open-ended questions to the
group and follows up with probing questions to solicit additional details and depth
regarding certain topics. The notetaker records the discussion and all comments in a
clear and concise manner easy for review by other team members.
Focus group discussions should have between 8 and 12 participants so that each
person has a chance to participate. Conduct focus groups among groups of individuals
with similar characteristics
Key informant interviews use open-ended questions similar to that for focus group
discussions, but collect data from individual respondents. You can use key
informant interviews to complement focus group discussions by generating
information from potentially marginalized or excluded individuals who may not feel
comfortable voicing their opinions in a larger group. Additional questions can be
included in key informant interviews that ask respondents about their individual
situation or the situation of their household.