Course 3 - Measurement, Interview and Data Quality, Week 1: Data Collection and Interviewer Training (Course 3.2)

August 20-24

Instructor:   Remco Feskens

Course content

This course will introduce participants in how to prepare, conduct and evaluate survey fieldwork. It starts with an introduction into the concept of total survey error. Survey errors can be introduced by not representing the target population accurately (selection errors); not representing the target variables from research questions accurately (measurement errors) and survey administration issues. One important aim in survey design is to minimize survey errors within a given budget.

A good design however does not guarantee a good survey, and here interviewers play an important role. Interviewer training and fieldwork monitoring will be the main topics of this course. Well-trained interviewers have the skills to persuade reluctant respondents to participate in the survey, obtain better quality responses and reduce item nonresponse, thereby optimizing the quality of data. In contrast, untrained interviewers may induce serious interviewer effects, which may jeopardize data quality. Interviewer training is therefore an essential part in obtaining data that can be used to answer research questions in a meaningful way.

The third topic of the course will be the evaluation and analysis of the quality of the collected data. Preferably, this quality check is performed during the data collection period in order to guide the survey process in such a way that survey errors will be discovered early and can thus be minimized. This is an important part of fieldwork monitoring, the fourth topic of the course. Part of this is also the supervision of interviewers.

In the morning lectures will be given, and in the afternoon students will work on exercises individually and in small groups using SPSS and Mplus.

Course and learning objectives

Participants will become familiar with the basic concepts around total survey error, and learn how to analyse and evaluate data quality. They will also acquire the practical skills of how to train interviewers and how to monitor fieldwork.

Course prerequisites

Basic understanding of survey methodology. Note: This course will take place in a PC lab so participants do not need to bring a laptop computer.


Please note that for this course, the optional exam will be in form of a paper to be submitted to the instructors after the end of the Summer School. If you want to gain 5 ECTS points for this course, you will thus not need to be present for the classroom exam on August 25th.

Recommended reading

  1. Biemer, P. P. & L. E. Lyberg, (2003). Introduction to Survey Quality. Hoboken, New Jersey.
  2. Couper, M. (2000). Web Surveys: A Review of Issues and Approaches.Public Opin Q,64 (4):464-494.
  3. De Beuckelaer, A., & F. Lievens (2009). Measurement Equivalence of Paper-and-Pencil and Internet Organisational Surveys: A Large Scale Examination in 16 Countries. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 58 (2): 336–361.
  4. Dillman, D. A., J. D. Smyth & L.M. Christian (2009). Internet, Mail and Mixed Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Hoboken, N.J.
  5. Fowler, F. L. & T. W. Mangione (1990). Standardized Survey Interviewing: Minimizing Interviewer Related Error. Newbury Park, CA.
  6. Groves, R. M., F. J. Fowler, M. P. Couper, J. M. Lepkowski, E. Singer & R. Tourangeau (2010). Survey Methodology. 2nd edition. Hoboken, N.J.
  7. Lyberg, L. E., P. E. Biemer, M. Collins, E. D. De Leeuw, C. Dippo, N. Schwarz & D. Trewin. (1997). Survey Measurement and Process Quality. New York.
  8. Schouten, B., F. Cobben & J. Bethlehem (2009). Indicators of Representativeness of Survey Nonresponse. Survey Methodology, 35:101-113.

About the instructor

Remco Feskens, PhD, is researcher at the Department of Methodology and Statistics of the Utrecht University. He is also associated to Cito, the National Institute for Educational Measurement in the Netherlands. His main research interest is survey design and data collection issues.