Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Cognitive Interviewing

April 7, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Cognitive Interviewing: A Hands-On Approach


National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland/University of Michigan

Cognitive Interviewing has become a very popular method for pretesting and evaluating survey questionnaires. The current approach favored by Federal laboratories and private research institutions mainly emphasizes the use of intensive verbal probes that are administered by specially trained interviewers to volunteer respondents, often in a laboratory environment, to delve into the cognitive and socio-cultural processes associated with answering survey questions.

Based on this information, the evaluator makes judgements about where questions may produce difficulties in a number of subtle ways, due to cognitive demands they impose, cultural mismatches, or other shortcomings. The short-course will cover the basic activities involved in arranging a cognitive testing project, and will focus on the specifics of how to conduct verbal probing.

Although an introduction to theory and background perspective is included, the course will focus on the application and practice of cognitive interviewing techniques, as these are targeted toward both interviewer-administered (face-to-face or telephone) and self-administered (paper and web/internet) surveys.

Participants will practice the conduct of cognitive interviews across modes, and will evaluate their results by judging where questions have failed, and what one might do to revise them. The course aims to provide a working familiarity with cognitive techniques, so that students will be able to begin conducting cognitive interviews on their own.

Instructor: Gordon Willis

Gordon Willis is a questionnaire design and pretesting specialist with affiliations at the National Institutes of Health, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), and the University of Maryland. Prior to that he was Senior Research Methodologist at Research Triangle Institute, and he also worked for over a decade at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, to develop methods for developing and testing survey questions. Willis attended Oberlin College, and received a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University. He now works mainly in the area of the development and evaluation of surveys on cancer risk factors, and focuses on questionnaire pretesting. He has produced the “Questionnaire Appraisal System” for use in evaluating draft survey questions, and has written the book “Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design.” His research interests include cross-cultural issues in self-report surveys and research studies, and in particular the development of best practices for questionnaire translation, and the development of pretesting techniques to evaluate the cross-cultural comparability of survey questions. 

This course will count as 7.0 CPSM short course credit hours.

To register, click here. Registration will not be accepted on or after April 4, 2017. 


Registration fees

  • CPSM Students: $30
  • UNC Students: $45
  • Others: $60

Cancellation/Refund Policy: A full refund will be given to those who cancel their registration no later than 10 days prior to the course. If you cancel within the 10 days prior to the class, no refund will be given. Please allow 30 days to receive your refund.

Waitlist/Walk-ins: There may be a waitlist for the courses. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Each attendee must register and pay prior to 3 days before the start of the course.


April 7, 2017
9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Event Category:
Event Tags:
, , , , , ,


219 Davis Library
208 Raleigh Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
+ Google Map
(919) 962-1151
View Venue Website