The Essentials of Questionnaire Design and Testing

Annelies Blom, University of Mannheim

A well-designed questionnaire lies at the core of any successful survey research project. We need to ensure that all our questions are understood, cognitively processed and answered by all respondents as intended. However, survey respondents typically show a variety of characteristics, such as their age, level of education and cultural background, which may influence how questions are understood and the effort put into answering questionnaires conscientiously.

This short course will introduce participants to the principles of designing high-quality questionnaires. We will look into the cognitive processes involved in a survey situation, consider different question and answer types, investigate the relevance of the survey mode (self-completion vs. interviewer-mediated modes), cover techniques for testing survey questions and consider interaction effects of different questions in the same questionnaire. Finally, we will consider when it is appropriate to adopt and adapt questions from existing surveys.

The course will include practical exercises in questionnaire writing and testing during which participants will have the opportunity to develop questions for their own research projects.

About the instructor

Annelies Blom is Assistant Professor at the University of Mannheim (Germany) and founder of Survex - Survey Methods Consulting. At Mannheim University she is principal invesigator of the German Internet Panel, a longitudinal online survey of the general population. She has taught courses in questionnaire design, survey methods and statistics and regularly conducts questionnaire consulting across different organisations. Her research looks into sources of survey error, including measurement error, interviewer effects and nonresponse bias.

Recent publications appeared in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, Journal of Official Statistics and Survey Methods: Insights from the Field.