Susanne Mäder

Group Discussion as an Evaluation Method – Development, Potentials and Models


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This article aims to summarize the progress in the current discussion on theory and practice of group discussions in evaluation and thereby to professionalize the application of this technique in evaluation. After having clarified the definitions of related terms such as group discussion, focus group and group interview, an overview of the development and reception of group discussions in social science and evaluation is provided. It is shown what differentiates evaluation as a discipline when compared to social science in general. From these differentiating characteristics of evaluation result particular potentials for data collection and the design of the evaluation process applying group discussions. Finally, two ideal-typical forms of group discussions are contrasted with each other and vital elements for planning, implementation and analysis are discussed.

Group Discussion, Group Interview, Focus Group, Qualitative Evaluation Methods