Research Guide: Field Debrief

“What worked well? What didn’t? What key themes did we hear?’ We asked ourselves these questions at the end of every day. Today’s research should inform tomorrow’s.” —Bethelhem Mulushoa, Smart Start Insight Sr. Coordinator, EthiopiaWhat is it?

A series of questions for your team to ask after completing a day of field research. As with all guides in this series, this simple tool illustrates our use of formative, human-centered design research to generate insights that our team later analyzed as a group from the perspectives of our various disciplines: adolescent developmental science, socio-cultural anthropology, youth engagement, public health, and social marketing.

How did we use it?

Our teams absorbed a lot of information through direct interviews and observational data collection. The debrief played an important role in helping team members capture it all while it was still fresh in their minds. At the end of every day, we convened our group of researchers and young designers to discuss insights, so we could learn and refine our thinking as a group. These insights were typically generated first by individual team members, then shared and grouped into themes, allowing us to build on each other’s observations and find common themes, which later formed a strong foundation to begin prototyping.

Debrief questions provided in this simple tool guided us to help “get it all down” before we ended for the day, so that we could start fresh tomorrow — all on the same page. Note: We used this process in all three countries, though the example shared here is from our Ethiopia team.

Consider using it to:

Come together as a team to share, reflect on, and organize what you’ve collected — your observations, user stories, and interesting data — to illuminate themes and patterns from your day in the field.


Download the Formative Research Field Debrief Guide below. And check out the sidebar to explore more Formative Research Guides!

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