Questionnaire Design

This course by Lyn Kaye covers all stages of questionnaire development from establishing survey information needs to evaluating quality.



Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 February 2019


Lyn Kaye


This course assumes some basic level of experience in designing and testing questionnaires.

Course outline

Do you ever wish you had designed your questions differently? This three day course will take an in-depth look at how to design and evaluate questionnaires. It will cover all stages of questionnaire development: from establishing your survey information needs through to writing the questions and evaluating their quality. We will look at some of the challenges to designing good questions; explore what the literature tells us about questionnaire design, and end with some practical techniques for questionnaire evaluation.

The target audience for this course is professionals from government agencies with hands-on involvement in designing questionnaires. The course covers theoretical knowledge, backed up by some practical and fun exercises to help illustrate the course content.

Day One

  • Establishing information needs
  • How do we know we need a survey?
  • Why is it necessary to have clearly developed needs?
  • What are the survey objectives?
  • How do we develop the survey objectives?
  • Data collection method (mode)
  • In what ways do survey modes differ?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of modes
  • Mode impacts on data
  • Designing for mixed modes
  • Cognitive processes in answering questions
  • Types of survey error: sampling, non-sampling, measurement, and response
  • Optimising and satisficing
  • Impacts of conversational norms
  • Comparing standardised and flexible interviewing

Day Two

  • Understanding questions
  • Difficulties with meaning
  • False inferences
  • Influences on comprehension
  • Conversational norms
  • Implications for question design
  • Remembering and recalling information
  • Structure of memory
  • Distinctions in memory
  • Retrieving information from memory
  • Survey questions and memory
  • Influences on memory recall
  • Strategies to reduce errors in recall
  • Making a judgement, deciding how to answer
  • Types of judgements
  • Judgements and frequency
  • Estimation strategies
  • Influence of response categories on judgement
  • Influence of topic on judgement
  • Editing a response and communicating an answer
  • Mapping answers to response categories
  • Editing sensitive questions

Day Three

  • The questionnaire as a whole – putting it all together
  • Constructing the questionnaire
  • Context effects
  • Order effects
  • Implications
  • Visual design principles
  • Visual design as communication
  • Gestalt principles of perception
  • Layers of design
  • Macro and micro level design
  • Recap internet design
  • Pre-testing questionnaires
  • Techniques and strategies
  • Cognitive testing as a method
  • Advantages and disadvantages.