Short Course A: Pretesting Survey Questions

Lecturers: Dr. Katharina Meitinger, Dr. Timo Lenzner

Date: 2-3 August 2018
Time: 09:00-13:00, 14:00-16:00

Short Course Description:

The course highlights the general importance of carrying out (cognitive) pretests before fielding a questionnaire.
This is achieved through both lectures and in-class exercises. In the lectures, we introduce different pretesting approaches and discuss examples of untested as well as pretested and improved survey questions.
The in-class exercises familiarize participants with different pretesting methods. We cover several pretesting methods such as questionnaire appraisal systems, cognitive interviewing, eye tracking, and web probing and illustrate the intricacies of conducting cross-cultural pretesting projects. We focus on the sorts of information gathered by these different pretesting methods and how the information can be used to reduce measurement error.
In this context, we will also discuss the pros and cons of different pretesting methods and mixed-method approaches.
Besides a more general introduction of the different pretesting approaches, participants will receive practical advice on how to conduct (cognitive) pretesting projects and how to decide which pretesting methods should be selected in a given research situation.

Course Prerequisites:

  • Basic knowledge in questionnaire design; however, some practical experience in conducting surveys will be beneficial. 
  • There are no statistical prerequisites.

Target Group:

Participants will find the course useful if:

  •  They develop their own questionnaires for own data collection
  •  They work in a survey organization and work on questionnaire design and evaluation
  •  Researchers that use survey data and wish to understand the importance of pretesting to reduce measurement error

Course and Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Be familiar with current (cognitive) pretesting methods
  •  Know the pros and cons of the different approaches to test survey questions
  •  Be able to make an informed decision about when to use which pretesting method and the ways in which several methods can be combined within a pretesting project

Organizational Structure of the Course:

The course structure includes 6 hours of in-class instruction in the morning time and afternoon.
After a lecture on each key topic and the presentation of the different pretesting approaches, there will be practical exercises. In addition, individual consultations are possible.

Software and Hardware Requirements:

None.