Survey design/Introduction and overview

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Survey design: Introduction and overview is a 1-2 hour session on the nuts and bolts of designing a survey. These presenter notes go together with the presentation slides.

Survey design: Introduction and overview was a repeat of the 27/8/09 presentation, this time for Dr. Anna Olsen's unit on "Methods of Social Inquiry" (Community Education). These were very engaged 2nd year undergraduate students! The topics were tailored to avoid being too statistical since the unit was mostly about qualitative research. The presentation went for approximately 80 minutes and followed a similar structure to previously, but went more smoothly overall. Basic outline of what was covered:

  1. Research process (10 mins)
  2. What is a survey? (5 mins)
  3. Research purposes
  4. Types of questionnaires (animation of this works well - ask students first what types of surveys they know of first, then reveal gradually) (15 mins)
  5. Types of questions (15 mins)
  6. Response formats (10 mins)
  7. Wording questions
  8. Maximising response rate - ask how? (5 mins)
  9. Class exercise: Examples of survey questions (10 mins)
  10. Sampling: Brief summary of sampling techniques focusing on distinction between random/probability based and non-probability based (10 mins) - Sher Hite example.
  11. Note: not levels of measurement - it worked well without this, for introductory purposes, despite it being important

Survey design: Introduction and overview was a one hour presentation by James Neill on 27 August, 2009 to a group of approximately 16 PhD students in the Faculty of Business and Government at the University of Canberra about developing questionnaires, at the request of Assoc. Prof. Ali Khazi. This was a short version of the one-day survey design workshop.


Outline for a 60 minute presentation/lecture/workshop on survey design:

  1. Introductions (5-10mins)
    1. Name
    2. Research question
  2. Research process (5 mins)
    1. Research question (problem)
    2. Research proposal
    3. Methodological design
    4. Data collection (sampling)
  3. Survey design: Overview (10 mins)
    1. What is a survey?
  4. Types of surveys - and their pros and cons (5 mins)
  5. Level of measurement (5 mins)
  6. Types of questions (15 mins)
  7. Discussion about example questions (5 mins)
  8. Sampling (5 mins)
    1. Choice will depend on research purpose, research design, and practicality
    2. Population
    3. Target population
    4. Sample
    5. Generalisation
    6. Margin of error & inferential statistics

What happened instead[edit]

  • Self-introduction - about interest/experience in research / importance of systematic/objective analysis (verbal)
  • The challenge of translating "human experience" validly into "analysable data" (verbal)
  • The use of questionnaires/surveys in this process - an imperfect science but one we need to strive to do well, otherwise GIGO (garbage in - garbage out) (verbal)
  • Firstly, a research question/s should be established and a research proposal, with key constructs operationally defined; from that point "measurement" is (relatively) easy :) (verbal)
  • Types of surveys and their pros and cons (whiteboard)
  • Need to understand levels of measurement and why it matters before constructing quantiative survey questions (whiteboard)
  • Objective vs. subjective questions (see survey design workshop slides)
  • Open-ended vs. closed questions (see survey design workshop slides)
  • Response formats for closed questions (see survey design workshop slides)
  • Examples - how could each be improved? (see survey design workshop slides)