Cologne, Germany

Questionnaire Design

when 15 August 2022 - 19 August 2022
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 500

Designing questions and questionnaires is broadly described as an important step when planning a survey. However, little advice is provided on how to phrase individual questions and response categories and how to design a good questionnaire as a whole. 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 make participants aware of the mechanisms underlying survey measurement.

(2) On the other hand, participants 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 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 participants in their professional reasoning when designing survey questions and questionnaires. Based on the theoretical concepts and experiments discussed in the lectures, participants 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

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

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they
- plan to or are about to conduct a survey;
- would like to supplement their initial experience in designing questionnaires with 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. Participants not familiar with the total survey error framework are encouraged to consider the preparatory reading mentioned at the end of the according syllabus. There are no statistical prerequisites.

Course participants will need to bring a laptop computer for performing the practical exercises in this course. The laptop should have the following software installed: Office package.

Course aim

By the end of the course participants will
- have an overview concerning the various components of survey data quality in general and questionnaire quality in particular;
- understand the cognitive processes underlying survey measurement for the various survey modes;
- be able to design simple survey questions of various types and to combine them in an integrated survey instrument.

Credits info

4 EC
- Certificate of attendance issued upon completion.
Optional bookings:
- 4 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments and for submitting a paper/report of about 5000 words to the lecturer(s) up to 4 weeks after the end of the summer school (EUR 50).

Fee info

EUR 500: Student/PhD student rate.
EUR 750: Academic/non-profit rate.
The rates include the tuition fee, course materials, the academic program, access to library and IT facilities, and coffee/tea breaks.


Scholarships are available from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the European Survey Research Association (ESRA)