Cognitive Interviewing: April 5-7, 2021

Asking good survey questions is difficult.

What makes a ‘good’ survey question?  In large part, it’s one that can be understood by those answering our questionnaires, and that reliably provides the intended information.  However, achieving this is harder than one might imagine.  Beyond knowing how to develop and script survey questions, it is very often necessary to test them out, in order to see how they work before ‘going into the field.’

How does one test survey questions?

Cognitive interviewing has become a very popular method for pretesting and evaluating survey questionnaires. The current approach favored by Federal agencies, academic institutions, and private research institutions emphasizes the use of intensive verbal probes, administered by specially trained cognitive interviewers to volunteer respondents.  Cognitive interviews rely on this type of probing to delve into the cognitive and social/cultural processes involved in answering survey questions.  Based on this information, the questionnaire designer discovers how the evaluated questions produce difficulties, or sources of measurement error, in a number of subtle ways.  Based on those findings, the survey questions are revised – and perhaps tested again – until they function as intended.

Learn about how to conduct cognitive interviewing

The Workshop on Cognitive Interviewing, taught by Dr. Gordon Willis, will focus on the specifics of how to conduct and analyze the results of cognitive interviews.  The Workshop will rely heavily on interaction with participants, who will be led to think through how they might approach a particular challenge, when putting survey questions to the test.  The Workshop will cover both interviewer-administered (face-to-face or telephone) and self-administered (computer/Internet and paper) surveys.  The course aims to provide a working familiarity with cognitive interviewing techniques, so that students will be able to begin conducting cognitive interviews on their own.

Instructor: Gordon Willis PhD, National Cancer Institute, NIH

Gordon Willis has practiced and conducted research in a wide range of cognitive interviewing techniques for over thirty years, at Northwestern University, The CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Research Triangle Institute, and currently at the National Cancer Institute, NIH.  He has written “Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design”, and a book on Analysis of the Cognitive Interview in Questionnaire Design”  He has also taught a variety of short courses and workshops on cognitive testing at meetings of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the American Statistical Association. He has co-taught a course in questionnaire design at the University of Maryland/University of North Carolina, and has been adjunct faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  His research interests focus on the evaluation of pretesting techniques, and on their extension to multi-lingual and multi-cultural contexts.

Dates: April 5th, 6th & 7th, 9:00am to 11:00am all days

Format: Zoom, link will be sent out 2 days prior to workshop

Workshop Fee $50