Master-class March 2018: Questionnaire Design

Gordon Emerson's popular Questionnaire Design Master-class, designed to prepare participants to build hard copy or internet surveys to meet a variety of needs. This 2 day course is being held in ACSPRI's Melbourne office.



Thursday, March 15, 2018 - Friday, March 16, 2018
Early bird cutoff date: 
Friday, March 9, 2018
Course details:

Collecting survey data can be expensive and time-consuming; therefore it is appropriate to ensure that usable and reliable data are collected. This course is designed to prepare participants to build hard copy or internet surveys to meet a variety of needs.

Master Class - runs over 2 days

Dr Gordon Emmerson is a specialist in quantitative research. He taught undergraduate and postgraduate statistics programs at Victoria University within the Psychology Department, where he currently holds the position of Honory Fellow. He coordinated a major in Social Research Methods. Gordon was employed as a statistical/methods advisor to university staff in the US at Kansas State University in the late 1980s. He is an experienced group facilitator and regularly conducts workshops across a range of topic areas. He is an experienced user of data management and statistical packages including SPSSwin, Excel and Access. He has also undertaken a number of consultancies in quantitative research in the health and education sector.

Course dates: Thursday 15 March 2018 - Friday 16 March 2018
Course status: Course completed (no new applicants)
Week 1
About this course: 

This two day workshop will focus on questionnaire design: types of questions, types of response categories, open versus closed ended questions, questionnaire layout and order of questions and questioning, common mistakes, pilot testing and specific issues such as “The importance of Cover Design.” The workshop includes practice designing the layout of surveys and practice critiquing and writing questions and responses.


Learning Objectives:
Topics that are covered include uses of surveys, constructing survey questions that are clear and unbiased, the need to match attitudinal or behavioral data collection with the purpose of the survey, and combining objective and open-ended questioning in order to enhance the usability of results.


Types of data that can be collected in surveys will be covered, as well common mistakes made with surveys. The use of an internet survey tool will be demonstrated.

Course syllabus: 

First Day

  • How surveys can be used
  • Types of surveys and types of data collection
  • Writing good survey questions
  • Avoiding common mistakes.
  • Ensuring the survey achieves the research objectives
  • The importance of reliability and validity of surveys
  • Practice writing questions that respond to the purpose and maintain reliability


Second Day

  • Pilot testing
  • Telephone and online surveying
  • Exploring data to get the most out of them
  • Reporting survey results
  • What claims can be made and what claims cannot be made
  • Practice constructing the overall design to respond to the purpose



Course format: 

This two day master-class will be held in the ACSPRI Office in Melbourne.

Recommended Texts: 


  • Arsham, H. Questionnaire design and surveys sampling. University of Baltimore Website. Retrieved September 3, 2009 from
  • Lavrakas, P. J., Shuttles, C. D., Steeh, C., & Fienberg, H. (2007). The state of surveying cell phone numbers in the United States. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71 (5), 840–854.
  • Porter, S. R. & Whitcomb, M. E. (2007, Win). Mixed-mode contacts in web surveys. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71 (4), 635–648.
  • Rea, Louis M. & Parker, Richard A. (2005). Designing and Conducting Survey Research: A Comprehensive Guide: John Wiley & Sons, San Francisco.
Course fees
Non Member: 
Full time student Member: 
Participant feedback: 

The course was excellent and well balanced. Gordon’s knowledge is amazing and he offers interesting and thought provoking examples.


It was helpful to complete practical activities to consolidate knowledge.


It was very relevant to my work and future research aspirations and very engaging.


There was a great overview of specifics of survey design, a good amount of detail on types of questions & useful activities.


Good overview of surveys design, useful information re evaluating data. Great hearing other participants experiences.



The ACSPRI Head Office is located at 763 Heidelberg Road, Alphington, just before the corner of Yarralea St.



The ACSPRI Office is only 20 minutes from the Melbourne's CBD via train. Accommodation located close to any of the City Loop train stations (Parliament, Melbourne Central, Spencer St, Flinders St and {on weekdays} Flagstaff) or other stations along the Hurstbridge Line will enable a very easy commute (see Transport below). We expect most visitors would appreciate staying quite centrally and there are numerous accommodation options. It is worth checking a travel website (expedia, tripadvisor, etc) to fine the best option for your budget and requirements, but we recommend staying close to a train station as per above.


Ivanhoe Quest Apartments are located 20 minutes walk east of the ACSPRI Office, along Upper Heidelberg Road.  You can also catch the train to Alphington Station from either Ivanhoe Station (2 stops - city direction) or Darebin Station (1 stop - city direction). You can also walk to Heidelberg Road (4 mins) take the 546 Bus to Yarralea Street, which is opposite our office.



Car Parking / Transport: 

Alphington Station is roughly 20 minutes from Melbourne Central (and other City loop stations) on the Hurstbridge Line and only a few minutes' walk from the ACSPRI office. There are also a number of bus lines that service the area. Bus services are very limited on weekends and the train is recommended. Click here for the journey planner.


By car, the quickest route for many local Melbournians will be via the Eastern Freeway and/or Chandler Hwy. From the CBD the Eastern Freeway from the Inner North will also probably be the quickest route. At that time on a weekend 20 minutes would allow plenty of time. Parking is usually available in Yarralea St or nearby but not on Heidelberg Road. 


Secure space is available to store bicycles at the office. The office is very close to Alphington Park, which backs onto the Yarra River and subsequently a vast network of Melbourne's bike paths.



Venue and Timetable: 

The course will run from 9.30am until 4.30pm each day (unless otherwise notified).

Breaks are usually held at 11:00 - 11:15, 12:45 - 1.15 and 2:45 - 3:00. Lunch and a small morning and afternoon tea are provided each day.