Here’s Your Chance to Write Better Questionnaires
This summer you will not have to schlep to Ann Arbor for a month if you want to take advantage of top-notch summer training courses in survey research offered at the University of Michigan. Everything is being offered online this year! It is a perfect opportunity for corporate researchers and others who work on the business side of research.
I am in the middle of struggling with data from a lousy questionnaire, so I am talking to colleagues and employees every day about the crucial difference good questionnaires make to quantitative research. Writing surveys is not intuitive and it is not an innate skill. It takes training, like the kind you will get in these recommended courses. The course descriptions are excerpted verbatim.
Writing Questions For Surveys — 2-day course, July 1-2, 2020
This workshop distills research about survey questions to principles that can be applied to write survey questions that are clear and obtain reliable answers. The workshop provides students with tools to use in diagnosing problems in survey questions and in writing their own survey questions. Sessions consider both questions about events and behaviors and questions about subjective phenomena (such as attitudes, evaluations, and internal states).
Introduction to Questionnaire Design — 3-day course, July 13-15, 2020
This course provides an overview of the art and science of questionnaire design. Topics will include basic principles of questionnaire design; factual and non-factual questions; techniques for asking about sensitive topics; designing scales and response options; and survey mode considerations.
Intermediate Questionnaire Design — 2-day course, July 22-23, 2020
This course is designed to follow on from Introduction to Questionnaire Design. Now instead of looking at question comprehension from a cognitive side, the linguistic side will be explored including online tools. Factual questions will be revisited but with the goal of exploring different types of respondent memory problems and their solutions, while also covering time anomalies in surveys and quasi facts. Subjective questions will be revisited to understand attitude consistency and inconsistency, to look at the feasibility of changing attitudes to change behavioral intentions to change behaviors and to cover the popular topic of satisfaction and other customer experience metrics.
Unfortunately, even the most seasoned researchers tend to write bad questionnaires unless they have advanced training and do it all the time. Please believe me that everything that comes after a bad questionnaire suffers as well: data reliability, data validity, data analysis, the story—EVERYTHING.
Now is your chance to do better and write better questionnaires, and it is something you probably won’t learn anywhere else. The Institute for Social Research has a lot of other offerings as well—take a look at the full summer schedule for more.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.