Authors: Nafisah Abdussalam, Dickson Ogunkunle, Oluwaseun Abimbola and Iyeyinka Kusi-Mensah
One of the workstreams on the ARISE&WIN project is the Qualitative Situational Analysis Workstream. The objectives of the Qualitative Situational Analysis Workstream are to conduct interviews with self-employed young women and men in order to carry out a gendered analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other significant life events on them, as well as conduct semi-structured interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with self-employed young women, members of their support network (e.g. parents, spouses/partners, siblings) and policymakers to find out their views on what interventions can be put in place to best support self-employed young women. In order to equip the ARISE&WIN fieldworkers with the necessary skills to conduct qualitative research, a comprehensive 3-day training program on qualitative data collection was held between May 10-12, 2023. Dr. Funmi OlaOlorun, a seasoned consultant on the ARISE&WIN project with extensive experience in qualitative research, facilitated the training sessions.
The training kicked off on a positive note with an engaging icebreaker game, which allowed participants to ease into the session and foster a sense of camaraderie. During the Overview of Training Agenda, Manual & the Road Ahead, Dr. OlaOlorun set the stage, stating how the training was aimed at equipping the fieldworkers with the necessary tools for carrying out effective data collection.
Thereafter, Mrs. Iyeyinka Kusi-Mensah, the Lead Postdoctoral Fellow, presented an in-depth overview of the ARISE&WIN project, discussing its research questions, objectives, and overall framework. This session helped participants situate the qualitative data collection they will be carrying out within the broader context of the project.
Dr. OlaOlorun then delved into the fundamentals of qualitative research, emphasizing the importance of asking the right questions, employing appropriate qualitative tools, and mastering sampling techniques. Participants were guided on how to conduct interviews and focus group discussions, with practical tips and detailed explanations provided. Throughout the day, the training maintained an interactive format, with the trainer sharing personal fieldwork experiences and engaging participants in discussions.
The second day commenced with an extensive review of the qualitative data collection tools that will be used on the ARISE&WIN project, including semi-structured interviews and focus group discussion guides led by Mrs. Iyeyinka Kusi-Mensah (Lead Post-Doctoral Fellow) and Mr. Dickson Ogunkunle (Research Associate). Participants actively participated in editing, correcting, and deliberating on these tools, ensuring their relevance and applicability.
Building on the previous day’s foundations, Dr. OlaOlorun provided hands-on guidance on the art of interviewing. Participants engaged in small group sessions and conducted practice interviews, taking turns as both interviewers and respondents. This exercise allowed them to familiarize themselves with the RedCap platform, recorders, and effective interviewing techniques.
The final day of the training focused on community entry and field procedures. Participants learned essential strategies for entering communities, reviewed recruitment scripts and explored key aspects of data management and confidentiality, transcription, translation, and the quality assurance of transcripts. To gain firsthand experience, the group ventured into Bodija, Ibadan North, for pilot interviews. The interviews were conducted individually or in pairs in English and Yoruba, reflecting the cultural context.
Following the interviews, a comprehensive debriefing session was held, allowing participants to share their experiences, observations, and any challenges encountered in the field. A practice focus group discussion was conducted, with participants assuming different roles, fostering a deeper understanding of group dynamics and facilitation techniques. One participant, Timothy Ibe, remarked, “The practical exercises helped us build confidence and refine our interviewing techniques. We could see ourselves growing as fieldwork experts already.”
The 3-day training on qualitative data collection proved to be a transformative experience for the core staff members of the ARISE&WIN project. Through interactive sessions, practical exercises, and insightful discussions, participants enhanced their skills and developed a deeper understanding of qualitative research.