Courses in Applied Social Surveys: This course dealt with about how to write effective survey questions and combine them into a meaningful questionnaire.

Courses in Applied Social Surveys 

This course dealt with how to write effective survey questions and combine them into a meaningful questionnaire. It focused on the design of questionnaires used in quantitative survey research, combining suggestions from the research literature on questionnaire design with a very practical approach. It covered the general principles of questionnaire design, special issues faced in writing factual, non-factual and sensitive questions, for both interview and self-completion modes, and an introduction to the various methods to test questionnaires. NB Constructing multi-item scales based on psychometric principles was not covered by this course.

Course Objectives:

  • To raise participants’ awareness of the pitfalls, issues, and tradeoffs involved in writing a good question and questionnaire
  • To enable participants to critique existing survey questions and questionnaires
  • To provide participants with the knowledge to be able to create their own high quality survey questions and questionnaires

Course Content:

This course focused on the design of questionnaires used in survey research, exploring the theoretical issues that arise in their development, application and interpretation as well as the practical aspects of questionnaire design that are often not taught in formal courses. It involved lectures as well as a variety of hands on workshops.

The emphasis is on the selection of appropriate measurement techniques for assessing both factual and non-factual material using survey questions. Topics included:

  • general principles of question design (including pitfalls to avoid, and cognitive and linguistic guidelines) and getting started with a new questionnaire,
  • techniques for measuring the occurrence of past behaviours and events,
  • the effects of question wording, response formats, and question sequence on attitudinal questions and well as for the measures of other subjective states,
  • an appendix on how to ask about sensitive and personal information,
  • how to combine individual questions into a meaningful questionnaire,
  • special guidelines for self-completion surveys (postal and web) versus interview surveys, and
  • an introduction to the various methods to test questionnaires.

Dr. Pamela Campanelli is an independent Survey Methods Consultant, Chartered Statistician and Chartered Scientist with a background in psychology, survey methodology and statistics. Previously, she was a Research Director at the Survey Methods Centre of the National Centre for Social Research. Prior to joining the National Centre, she was involved with surveys and survey methods projects at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, the Center for Survey Methods Research at the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and at the University of Michigan. Her main interests and publications are in the study of survey error and data quality issues, with a special emphasis on questionnaire design, question testing strategies, interviewing techniques, sampling, mixed modes of data collection and survey analysis. In addition to her consultancy work, she regularly teaches short courses for a variety of UK organisations, universities, central government departments, and survey research companies as well as the Universities of Michigan, Hong Kong, and Wollongong and the bureau of statistics in Switzerland, Ireland and South Africa and the Brazilian Network Information Centre. (see also

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