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Practical training for purposeful data collection

Interviews and focus groups are key to exploring diverse perspectives, and understanding peoples’ needs and experiences in depth. Our training provides practical guidance for successfully designing and implementing individual and group discussions with different audiences.

About this module

In this module you will learn everything you need to know to plan and facilitate successful interviews and focus groups for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL). We will guide you step by step through the design of interview and focus groups guides, avoiding common pitfalls. Our clear framework will help you think through the many considerations involved in conducting individual and group discussions to gather high quality data. You’ll learn from our experience and insights as well as getting some first-hand skills practice during learning activities.

After completing this module, you will have reviewed and critiqued interview and focus group guides, and practised facilitation of an interview or focus group. You will take away sample interview questions that you have developed aligned with a MEL Framework, as well as useful examples and resources for ongoing use.

You will build your skills to:

  • Understand how interviews and focus groups connect with broader MEL approaches, and identify when and how to use these methods
  • Apply key principles for designing effective interviews and focus groups for different audiences and contexts
  • Facilitate interviews and focus groups effectively, managing participant dynamics and gathering high quality data
  • Understand ethical considerations relating to interviews and focus groups, and apply practical strategies to minimise risks

Who this module is for

This module is designed for people who have beginner to intermediate skills in MEL data collection. It is highly relevant to those working in and with for-purpose organisations, whose roles relate to any of the following:

  • Research or evaluation
  • Planning, design and development of services and programs
  • Program or project management
  • Quality improvement or stakeholder engagement

Format of this module

  • Online or onsite: 1 x half day session

Our approach

Our down-to-earth training is specially designed for social purpose organisations across health, community services, education, international development and beyond. Participants in our interactive workshops use real projects as working examples, with a strong focus on ‘learning by doing’. Our facilitators draw on their extensive experience in Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning to explain complex concepts in plain language, and help you apply them to your own context.

Here's what a past training participant said about our MEL training:

The facilitation was excellent. Trainers were friendly and knowledgeable and talked about the topic in a very accessible way. There was a gentle way of guiding people during small group discussion that were nice to see. The use of real life examples was useful. The pace of the training was well-timed.

Our presenters

Our facilitators are Lirata staff with extensive real-world experience in designing and conducting Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning processes, as well as providing training and mentoring. Presenters vary depending on the session but often include Kate Randall, Alex Gruenewald, Katie Ronson and/or Mark Planigale.

Related training modules

Evaluation processes frequently involve surveys as well as interviews and focus groups. We encourage participants registering for this module to also register for our module on Effective Surveys (MEL-03), as these two modules together cover the most common MEL data collection methods.