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Writing and evaluating good survey questions

August 27, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm


A 4-hour workshop taught by Paul D. Umbach, Ph.D.



Writing good survey questions can be very difficult. This workshop will give participants a solid practical foundation in how to write good survey questions. The purpose of this workshop is to arm you with the knowledge to develop valid and reliable questionnaires by looking at approaches for developing survey questions and methods for evaluating them. As survey researchers, it is difficult to be certain that respondents interpret your questions exactly as you intend, recall the information you need, and provide the answers you want. This workshop will introduce you to what is known about the psychology of survey response and generally accepted best practices for question writing. The workshop will also review methods for testing questions to ensure their validity and reliability.

Expected outcomes

You will leave this workshop with new strategies for developing, evaluating, and critiquing survey questions. By the end of this workshop, you will know how to write well-constructed questions that attend to common concerns such as respondent memory, comprehension, and judgment. You will be introduced to techniques, such as cognitive interviews and pilot tests, that help you diagnose problems with survey questions and find ways to reduce these problems. In the end, you will not only be a better consumer of survey research, but you will be able to develop valid and reliable survey questions and questionnaires.

Pricing and schedule

Time: Tuesday, August 27, 12PM to 4PM (EST)
Cost: $175
Location: Online

We offer $25 graduate student and multiple workshop discounts. Find out about our discounts here.

Time permitting, Dr. Umbach will also answer questions about participants’ specific research projects. Participants can ask questions via chat, microphone, or telephone. In order to allow sufficient time for questions, the number of workshop participants is limited to 30.

Who should attend?

This course is aimed at anyone who writes or reviews survey questions. This course gives practical guidance to those who have written survey questions but who are not familiar with research on question design, those who are just beginning to design survey instruments, and those who use survey data but do not themselves design survey instruments. The target audience for this workshop is a range of researchers, including institutional researchers, policy analysts, student affairs professionals, assessment professionals, graduate students, and faculty, who use surveys in their work. We also expect individuals from government, business, and non-profit organizations will also benefit from this course.


  1. Introduction to question writing
    1. Types of questions
    2. Parts of a question
    3. Cognitive processes for responding to survey questions
  2. General guidelines for writing questions
  3. Developing questions about facts
  4. Writing questions about attitudes
  5. Methods for evaluating and improving survey questions
    1. Expert review
    2. Focus groups
    3. Cognitive interviews
    4. Pre-testing
  6. Establishing validity and reliability


August 27, 2019
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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