Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design

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Cognitive Interviewing is ideally suited as a course text for advanced undergraduate and graduate research courses across the social sciences. Professional researchers and faculty in the social sciences as well as practice fields such as medicine, business and education, will also find this an invaluable reference for survey research. There is no other book on the market that covers cognitive interviewing as applied to questionnaire design.
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Editorial Reviews

Terry Richardson
“As both an academic instructor in questionnaire design and a research design methodologist for the federal government, I feel this book is very timely, useful for students and practitioners, and unique in its use of real world practical examples that most everyone can relate.”
Rachel Caspar
“The combination of theory and practical application will make this a useful book for students as well as professionals who want to learn how to incorporate cognitive interviewing into the questionnaire design process.”
Journal of the Society for Technical Communication - Rhonda Lunemann
"The book has definite strong points. After reading Willis's book, I feel more comfortable about developing questions for customer surveys. It's a great reminder that people being surveyed may need more specific questions to provide an accurate response in the cognitive interview."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761928034
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 9/14/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon B. Willis is a cognitive psychologist in the Applied Research Program, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health; and lectures for the Joint Program for Survey Methodology (JPSM). Prior to that, he was a research methodologist at Research Triangle Institutes in Rockville, Maryland, where he established a cognitive laboratory facility. He also worked for over a decade in the Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, developing and applying cognitive interviewing techniques. Dr. Willis attended Oberlin College, and received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Northwestern University. He now works mainly on the development and evaluation of questionnaires that collect information on cancer risk factors. His main research interest is the evaluation of survey pretesting techniques, especially the cognitive interview. Dr. Willis is an authority on the use of cognitive interviewing, based on his work on developing and practicing these methods at three different organizations. He has personally conducted hundreds of cognitiv interviews and overseen the work of teams of interviewers. He has taught cognitive interviewing in short courses at survey conferences and in university lectures. Willis has also written extensively on the practice and theoretical and empirical evaluation of cognitive interviewing techniques.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction to cognitive interviewing 3
2 Setting the stage for cognitive interviewing : first principles of questionnaire design 12
3 Background and theoretical origins : the CASM approach 34
4 Cognitive interviewing in practice : think-aloud, verbal probing, and other techniques 42
5 Developing standard cognitive probes 67
6 Beyond the standard model of verbal probing 87
7 A further perspective : cognitive testing as expansive interviewing 102
8 Avoiding probing pitfalls 115
9 Selection and training of cognitive interviewers 129
10 Planning and conducting cognitive interviews 136
11 Analyzing and documenting cognitive interview results 151
12 Special applications of cognitive interviewing 177
13 Evaluation of cognitive interviewing techniques 207
14 Beyond cognitive testing : affiliated pretesting methods 230
15 Recommendations and future directions 255
App. 1 Example of cognitive testing protocol 273
App. 2 Examples of findings from cognitive testing reports 287
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