Cologne, Germany

Introduction to Questionnaire Design

when 29 July 2024 - 2 August 2024
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 550

Designing questions and questionnaires is broadly described as an important step when planning a survey. However, the advice provided on how to phrase individual questions and response categories and how to design a good questionnaire as a whole is often provided in the form of general rules that are often abstract und unspecific. This course will approach questionnaire design by means of two strategies:

(1) On the one hand basic concepts relevant to survey measurement will be discussed (e.g., mode differences, question-answer-process, satisficing, social desirability) to enhance your awareness of the mechanisms underlying survey measurement.
(2) On the other hand, you will be introduced to results of field-experimental studies testing various aspects of survey questions and a questionnaire as a whole (e.g., question wording, response order, visual design of a question). The discussion of these studies mostly published in international journal will highlight the implication of various design aspects of a survey question for the answers provided by respondents.
Based on these two pillars of knowledge, the course aims to educate you in your professional reasoning when designing survey questions and questionnaires. Based on the theoretical concepts and the field-experimental studies discussed in the lectures, you will be guided and supported in designing and testing topical survey questions during practical sessions and by means of assignments.

The examples discussed in the course will mainly be taken from surveys of individuals and households; the business survey will not be covered. The course is not restricted to a specific survey mode; examples will be taken from face-to-face surveys, telephone surveys, web surveys, and mail surveys. Coverage issues, sampling, weighting, nonresponse, and other aspects of survey design will not be covered.

Course leader

Marek Fuchs is full professor for social science research methods at Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany.

Target group

You will find the course useful if:
- you plan to or are about to conduct a survey and would like to strengthen your ability to design the questionnaire,
- you would like to supplement your initial experience in designing questionnaires with evidence-based practical advice based on a sound theoretical basis concerning the underlying mechanisms.

- Basic knowledge in quantitative social science research methods is required.
- Basic knowledge concerning survey design and data quality is advisable.
- There are no statistical prerequisites.

You need to bring a laptop computer for performing the practical exercises and assignments.
You need Microsoft Office software (or a functionally equivalent alternative) installed on your laptop.

Course aim

By the end of the course, you will:
- understand the structure of a survey question and have improved your reasoning about the design of its components,
- have an overview concerning the various components and properties of survey questions that potentially affect data quality,
- be able to design simple survey questions of various types,
- be able to combine the question in a questionnaire and to conduct a simple pre-test,
- understand the cognitive processes underlying survey measurement for the various survey modes.

Credits info

4 EC
- Certificate of attendance issued upon completion.

Optional bookings:
The University of Mannheim acknowledges the workload for regular attendance, satisfactory work on daily assignments and for submitting a paper of 5000 words to the lecturer(s) by 15 October at the latest with 4 ECTS (70 EUR administration fee).

Fee info

EUR 550: Student/PhD student rate.
EUR 825: Academic/non-profit rate.
The rates include the tuition fee, course materials, the academic program, and coffee/tea breaks.


Scholarships are available from the European Survey Research Association (ESRA), see more information on our website