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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderWorking with groups
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentFive questions
View the documentGames
View the documentGroup discussions
View the documentRole play
View the documentStrengths and weaknesses
View the documentSWOT analysis
View the documentVillage reflections
View the documentVillage workshop



Group discussion in which members take turns offering ideas related to a specific topic.


To pool the knowledge of several people to collect as much information on a topic as possible in a short time.


- Chalkboard
- Chalk
- Paper and pencil

Possible approach

1 Prepare activity (see Village workshop).

2 The facilitator asks each participant to give an idea related to the topic. The facilitator writes each idea on the chalkboard. Participants may take turns, or the process may be spontaneous.

3 Repeat step two until all ideas are exhausted.

4 Sort or classify ideas and consolidate the results.

5 Discuss the results with the group.

6 Record the results on paper.

7 Conclude activity.


Idea cards

Instead recording ideas on a blackboard (or some other locally available drawing surface), consider whether participants might respond better using the card technique. Participants can write their ideas on carafe (one 10x30-cm card per idea) using marking pens, then tape them to display boards or Manila paper. Shy participants prefer this to speaking up. Some ideas might appear several times, however, making it more difficult to consolidate the output.



- can produce a quick overview or rough assessment of IK on a specific subject.

- is most useful for discovering the "what" of IK, but can also be used to explore "why," "how," "who," "when," and "where."

- affords a good take-off point for further research and for setting research priorities.

- raises people's awareness about their IK; however, the information produced is often sketchy and needs to be backed up and fleshed out using other methods.

Dos and don'ts

- Do make sure that everyone gets a turn and all ideas are discussed.

- If used with illiterate people, do use symbols for recording ideas. If this is not possible, read aloud all contributed ideas.

- Don't try this method with too many people. Seven to 10 people is best.

Compiled by Evelyn Mathias