GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

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

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Short Course A: Pretesting Survey Questions

Online via Zoom
Course duration:
09:00-14:00 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 200 €
Academics: 300 €
Commercial: 600 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Cornelia Neuert, Timo Lenzner

About the lecturer - Cornelia Neuert

About the lecturer - Timo Lenzner

Course description

The course covers the basic elements of evaluating questionnaires and highlights the general importance of carrying out (cognitive) pretests before fielding a questionnaire. This is achieved through both lectures and group exercises. In the lectures, we introduce three pretesting approaches, namely questionnaire appraisal systems, cognitive interviewing, and web probing. The exercises aim at familiarizing participants with these pretesting methods. We focus on the sorts of information gathered by each method and how the information can be used to reduce measurement error. In this context, we will also discuss the pros and cons of the different pretesting methods and mixed-method approaches. Besides a more general introduction of the 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.
For additional details on the course and a day-to-day schedule, please download the full-length syllabus.

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.
  • they use survey data and wish to understand the importance of pretesting to reduce measurement error.

  • 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..
  • be able to evaluate survey questions using the selected methods. .
    Organizational structure of the course
  • This is a three-day course with a total amount of 12 hours of virtual class time. The course structure includes 3 hours of in-class teaching in the morning with a mix of teaching and exercises, and Q&A sessions. Exercises will be divided in group and individual exercises.
  • During the group exercises, lecturers will be available to support in the breakout rooms.
  • After the lunch break, we will discuss the exercises and be available for group and individual consultations (Q&A session).

  • Prerequisites

  • Basic knowledge in questionnaire design; however, some practical experience in conducting surveys will be beneficial.
  • There are no statistical prerequisites.
    Software and hardware requirements
    Participants need a laptop/desktop computer that enables them to access the internet.
    Wednesday, 02.08.
    09:00-14:00Introduction: reasons for conducting pretests and goals of pretesting; overview over different pretesting methods
    Expert review & questionnaire appraisal systems: different forms of expert reviews; exercise on application of QAS-99
    Q&A Session
    Thursday, 03.08.
    09:00 - 14:00Cognitive interviewing: planning cognitive interviews + exercise; conducting & analyzing cognitive interviews + exercise
    Supplementing cognitive interviewing with eye tracking
    Friday, 04.08.
    09:00 - 14:00Web Probing: introduction to web probing; optimal implementation: visual design, probe order, nonresponse reduction; planning & conducting web probing studies; analyzing web probing studies + exercise
    Discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the different pretesting methods