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Musyawarah an effective learning method.


The focus group discussion (FGD) is a rapid assessment, semi-structured data gathering method in which a purposively selected set of participants gather to discuss issues and concerns based on a list of key themes drawn up by the researcher/facilitator (Kumar 1987). This qualitative research technique was originally developed to give marketing researchers a better understanding of the data from quantitative consumer surveys. As an indispensable tool for marketing researchers (Krueger 1988), the focus group discussion has become extremely popular because it provides a fast way to learn from the target audience (Debus 1988; US Department of Health and Human Services 1980). Marketing and media studies have shown that the focus group discussion is a cost-effective technique for eliciting views and opinions of prospective clients, customers and end-users. In agriculture, focus groups have been used to obtain insights into target audience perceptions, needs, problems, beliefs and reasons for certain practices.

Advantages of Focus Groups Include:

* Quick, cheap and relatively easy to assemble

* Good for getting rich data in participants' own words and developing deeper insights

* People are able to build on one another's responses and come up with ideas they might not have thought of in a 1-on-1 interview

* Good for obtaining data from children and/or people with low levels of literacy

* Provides an opportunity to involve people in data analysis (e.g. "Out of the issues we have talked about, which ones are most important to you?")

* Participants can act as checks and balances on one another - identifying factual errors or extreme views

Limitations of Focus Groups Include:

* The responses of each participant are not independent

* A few dominant focus group members can skew the session

* Focus groups require a skilled and experienced moderator

* The data which results from a focus group requires skill and experience to analyze

FGD is a research approach used in qualitative methods. It is commonly used in a research from the social science cluster. But in fact in the history of the development of science, both qualitative and quantitative aspects are interrelated and not separate from each other, which the purpose of science is to seek the truth. Separation occurs only when the development of Western science in the middle of the 19th century, began to make the division of knowledge according to certain premises.

Rofa Mat Ismail (1995 and 2004) discusses the qualitative and quantitative aspects in the development of philosophy of science, such as conclude that the natural science is not an objective knowledge but as a branch of philosophy that makes the qualitative aspects of metaphysics as a key goal. Science must be included qualitative aspects, not only for technology products. Meanwhile, according to Zainal (2006), the West defines science as merely quantitative observations. Although qualitative and quantitative research plays a major role in the development of knowledge, but ironically scientists today do not make qualitative research as an option. This syndrome occurs because of the quantitative research is said to be objective, while qualitative is descriptive.

Therefore, FGD or musyawarah is applied in the technical learning embedded in the Photonics Technology courses. The approaches in research methods such as simulation, analytical and experimental are familiar to students from science stream and now approaches from social science stream was also been applied. This is important to diversify the teaching methods and open students' minds. The effectiveness of this technique can be illustrated through student involvement in providing input in the form of comments, information, protest and others in 'Musyawarrah' activities.

The Split of Discussion Subtopic:

Discussion topic is public and this will open the minds of students in a wider context. Discussion topic is "Greater Blessings Light". The students are divided into several groups and each group will review the application of light in fields including Telecommunications, Medical, Psychology, Industrial, Beauty or the light seen in different perspectives, such as the religious view. Students are required to elaborate these topics well. Through this method, the students are exposed on Multi Dimensional Assessment techniques that teach them to look at a subject at different angles and dimensions and thus expand their knowledge and thus improve the productivity (Ab-Rahman, 2011).


Implementation of Forum:

Students are arranged in a circular position of the group which consists of several lecturers, researchers (graduate students) and students. Lecturer is in charge as a moderator and scores recorder, while a research team works as a trigger to the pieces of knowledge and students as a proposer. These groups are important to the success of this activity. Figure 2 until Figure 5 shows some photography of the events and Table 1 shows the focus group discussions that have been conducted and the involvement of participants in providing input and comments in this discussion.



This method is able to train and develop the attitude of students to be brave in giving opinions and interact properly with the other participants (Figure 3). Each of the facts, views, comments and submissions, students will be evaluated by the Moderator and his assistants from other lecturers (Figure 5).



Results and Discussion

A questionnaire was carried out in identifying the effectiveness of this technique to help students in their learning. This questionnaire includes motivation, development, involvement and effectiveness of this method in which each student must fill out the questionnaire. The results obtained are shown in Figure 6.


FGD is a technique already used by researchers in the field of social sciences. The purpose is to exchange views and explore a topic. This method is also applied in teaching as a technique to observe the students taking part in a discussion and make comments, ideas, criticisms to the discussed topic. It is an active method involving lecturers and students together in the exchange of knowledge in a productive atmosphere. Through this method students are exposed on Multi dimensional Assessment techniques that teach them to look the subject at different angles and dimensions and thus expand their knowledge and improve the productivity (Ab-Rahman, 2011). Through surveys that were done, students accept this technique as a method of learning. They also agreed that this method can influence and build the student's courage to voice their own opinions and talk about the knowledge acquired through research and reading. Therefore, they agreed to continue and use this technique as an evaluation of their performance in this course.


Ab-Rahman, M.S., 2011. Multi-Dimensional Assessment (MDA): Setting the Research Diversity. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 6(6): 452-456.

Debus, M., 1988. A handbook for excellence in focus group research. HEALTHCOM Project special Report Series. Washington, D.C.: Porter/Novelli.

Ismail, M.R., 1995. Sejarah Aritmetik dan Aljabar Islam. Selangor: Universiti Pertanian Malaysia.

Ismail, M.R., 2004. Matematik Merentas Tamadun. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Krueger, R.A., 1988. Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Newbury Park, California, U.S.A.: Sage Publications, Inc.

Kumar, K., 1987. Conducting focus group interviews in developing countries. A.I.D. Program Design and Evaluation Methodology Report No. 8. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Agency for International Development.

Moulton, J. and A.H. Roberts, 1993. Adapting the tools to the field: Training in the use of focus groups. In: Seidel, R.E. (ed.) Notes from the field: communication for child survival. Washington, D.C.: Academy for Educational Development.

US Department of Health and Human Services, 1980. Pretesting in health communications: methods, examples and resource for improving health messages and materials. Bethesda, MD., USA.: National Cancer Institute.

Zainal, B., 2006. Peluang-peluang Penyelidikan Kualitatif Dalam Ilmu Falak. Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Corresponding Auther: Mohammad Syuhaimi, Research Advancement Strategic and Planning (RASP).

(1,2,3) Mohammad Syuhaimi Ab-Rahman, (3) Norhana Arshad, (1,2,3) Hadiguna, (2,3) Mastang Tanra, (1) Norsyuhadah Norzalwi

(1) Research Advancement Strategic and Planning (RASP).

(2) Spectrum Technology Research Group (SPECTECH).

(3) Department of Electrical, Electronic and System Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Mohammad Syuhaimi Ab-Rahman, Norhana Arshad, Hadiguna, Mastang Tanra, Norsyuhadah Norzalwi: Musyawarah An Effective Learning Method
Table 1: Questionnaire description.

Item                   Details

excited to join        Are you excited to join this forum?
thorough preparation   Did you make a thorough preparation from
                       the beginning of this session?
excited to talk        Are you excited to talk and debate on the
                       research topics?
research benefit       Is your research beneficial and helpful to
                       make you understand the lectures in class?
learning benefit       How far has the topic assist you in your
FGD implementation     Do you agree for the FGD to be continued in
                       the next class of this course?
improve knowledge      Apart from your research, is there any input
                       from your friends that improve your knowledge?
excited to discuss     When your friend presented a topic, did you
                       excited to discuss and respond to it?
first time exposure    Is this your first time participating in
                       this learning method in this faculty?

Fig. 6: Respond to the questionnaire about the effectiveness of

                     Strongly                                  Strongly
                     Disagree   Disagree   Undecided   Agree    Agree

first time              0          0          0        21.4     78.6
excited to discuss      0          0         42.9      50.0      7.1
improve knowledge       0          0          7.1      42.9     50.0
FGD implementation      0          0         14.3      57.1     28.6
learning benefit        0          0         28.6      71.4      0
research benefit        0          0         14.3      71.4     14.3
excited to talk         0          0         28.6      64.3      7.1
thorough                0          0         42.9      50.0      7.1
excited to join         0          0         28.6      57.1     14.3

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Ab-Rahman, Mohammad Syuhaimi; Arshad, Norhana; Hadiguna; Tanra, Mastang; Norzalwi, Norsyuhadah
Publication:Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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