GESIS Training Courses

Wiss. Koordination

Sebastian E. Wenz
Tel: +49 221 47694-159

Administrative Koordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 6: Advanced Questionnaire Design

Cologne / Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Course duration:
Mo: 10:00-17:00
Tu-Fr: 9:00-17:00 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 500 €
Academics: 750 €
Commercial: 1500 €
Additional links
Dozent(en): Marek Fuchs

Referenteninformationen - Marek Fuchs


Surveys provide key information regarding attitudes and behaviors of the general population as well as in specific subgroups. Reliable and valid survey data relies, amongst others, on a high quality questionnaire using state of the art question wording and appropriate visual design. While the literature concerning the basic principles of designing a good questionnaire provides a decent body of knowledge, some more advanced issues are often less accessible (like split questionnaire design, dependent interviewing, questionnaire design for mixed-mode surveys). In addition, in the field of questionnaire design several innovations have surfaced in the past decades, some of which originated from new devices and survey modes used for data collection (e.g. the specifics of questionnaires for mobile devices) while others were invented in reaction to specific challenges occurring when respondents answer survey questions (e.g. interactive features in questionnaires, using chatbots, ECAs, smart speakers and audio, delegation features, item/person count techniques for sensitive questions).
This course starts with a short introduction of basic concepts relevant to survey measurement, e.g. mode differences, question-answer-process, satisficing, to remind participants of the mechanisms underlying survey measurement.
Based on this recap the course will then introduce to a variety of advanced issues and innovations in the field of questionnaire design for interviewer-administered surveys as well as for web surveys. After a rather descriptive introduction to each topic, results of laboratory and field-experimental studies testing advanced issues and innovations will be presented. The discussion of these studies will highlight the implication of various advanced and innovative aspects of a survey question for the answers provided by respondents.
Based on these studies the course aims to expand the participants' professional reasoning when designing survey questionnaires and their ability to apply advanced and innovative features when designing survey questions and questionnaires. Participants will have the opportunity to implement some of the issues covered in the course to 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; business surveys 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.
A detailed syllabus with course times and literature will soon be available for download here.


Participants will find the course useful if they:
  • plan to or are about to conduct a survey and are faced with challenges beyond the basic wording of the question and the answer categories.
  • would like to expand their experience in designing questionnaires with insights regarding innovative question types and questionnaire features aiming at higher response quality.

  • Lernziel

    By the end of the course participants will:
  • have an overview concerning a number of innovations in the field of questionnaire design for interviewer-administered surveys as well as Web surveys.
  • understand the pros and cons of these innovations and the potential consequences and side effects of using them.
  • have a basic understanding of the implementation of the innovations in their respective fields of topical surveys.
    Organizational structure of the course
    This is a five-day course with a total amount of 30 hours of class time. Participants can expect a mix of interactive teaching (3-4 hours per day), practical sessions and exercises (1-2 hour per day), and opportunity for individual consultation (1 hours per day). lectures start with an outline of one particular advanced issue or innovation in the field of questionnaire design. Subsequently, studies from the research literature will be used to evaluate and assess the pros and cons concerning the innovation addressed in each session. In the practical sessions applications of the innovations to specific topical questions will be discussed.
    Participants should be prepared to spend an additional 1-2 hours a day for reading and daily assignments. During practical sessions and while working on assignments a teaching assistant will be available for hands-on support.
    Every day participants receive an assignment that they are expected to work on during the afternoon. Participants are expected to upload their individual assignments every night for written feedback. Once during the course, participants are expected to present their assignment in class.
    Participants can either bring their own project that they want to use for the assignments on or they are provided with literature from two substantive areas to choose a topic for their assignments.


  • Basic knowledge in quantitative social science research methods is required.
  • Basic knowledge concerning questionnaire design is advisable.
  • There are no statistical prerequisites.
    Software and hardware requirements
    Participants will need to bring a laptop computer with office software installed for performing practical exercises and assignments.