Thomas J. Leeper > Teaching > Research Design Course > Problem Set 4

Problem Set 4: Data Collection II (Interviewing)


The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with experience conducting interview-based data collection.


As a class, you will select a questionnaire from the “Flash” Eurobarometer survey series. Working individually, you will then pilot the instrument by interviewing at least four individuals (excluding other students enrolled in the course) and then describe and evaluate your experiences. The goal here is to learn about and reflect on the task of interviewing rather than to necessarily analyze the resulting data.

Your Task

  1. Look at the set of “Flash” Eurobarometer surveys, which are collected as part of a long, ongoing data collection by the European Commission. In class during Week 8, you will collectively select a topic that you would like to study from those available and use the questionnaire provided. In your essay, briefly describe what you see as the research question and/or goals of your selected questionnaire. Also list the “ZA Number” for the study (e.g., ZA6586) and include a link to the questionnaire.

  2. Using what you know about interviewing and asking questions, review the questionnaire you have selected and discuss strengths and weaknesses of the questionnaire (such as question wordings, ordering of questions, the “mode” of data collection, etc.). Write up these discussions in up to one page of your essay.

  3. With your questionnaire, collect a pilot data collection in which you interview at least four individuals. For the purposes of this assignment, it does not matter who you select to interview (friends, family, random individuals), provided they are not students in this course. Each interview should comprise two parts: (a) a realistic survey interview in which you ask the questions on the questionnaire and record the answers; and (b) a reflective section where you ask the respondent about what was difficult, confusing, or unclear about the questions being asked. Take notes on the respondents’ behaviors, the ease with which they answered the questions, and any comments they made in the reflective portion of the interview.

  4. Using the provided Moodle forum, discuss the experience of interviewing with other students. Then, in about two additional pages, describe and evaluate the experience of interviewing. You might consider the following prompts: What did you learn? How successful was your questionnaire at obtaining appropriate and useful responses? How well did respondents understand the questions? How well did they answer the questions? How well do you think this questionnaire and your interviewing would serve the goal of the Eurobarometer study were you to actually conduct the study? What would you change about the questionnaire to improve this data collection? How much should we trust data generated from responses to survey interviews?

  5. Write up your reflections on the exercise, including identifying the most difficult and most enjoyable aspects.

Submission Instructions

Your assignment should be no more than three pages of double-spaced A4, Times New Roman font size 12. Submit the assignment via Moodle by Tuesday December 5.


You will receive feedback within two weeks.

Creative Commons License Except where noted, this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.