Psychology 3840F-001

Survey Design and Construction

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


An introduction to the foundations and methods for developing questionnaires and surveys.  Topics include methods and types of survey measurement, construction, administration, data collection and reporting of results.  Students will normally participate in the development of surveys with community partner agencies.

Prerequisites:  Psychology 2800E and 2810, plus registration in third or fourth year Honors Specialization in Psychology or Honors Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Third or fourth year Psychology Majors and Psychology Special Students who earn 70% or higher in Psychology 2820E or 60% or higher in Psychology 2800E and 2810 or 60% higher in both Psychology 2830A/B and 3830F/G (at Huron) also may enrol in this course.


            3 lecture hours, 0.5 course.


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:         Dr. Don Saklofske                     

Office and Phone Number:  Rm 7314, Social Science Centre           

Office Hours: TBA                                       



Teaching Assistant: TBA                              


Office Hours:                                              


Time and Location of Classes:   Monday 9:30-12:30; SSc 3120

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


 Dillman, D., Smyth, J. & Christian, J. (2014).  Internet, phone, mail, and mixed mode surveys: The tailored design method. Wiley.


Gordon Allport said that if you want to know what a person is thinking, ask them! The aim of this course is to become familiar with and develop the fundamental skills related to psychological measurement and assessment with a specific focus on survey research methods in applied contexts that yield valid and reliable information on the psychology of human behavior, thinking and feeling of persons and groups. Various data collection methods that employ a survey design framework will be examined that focus on defining the questions to be addressed, creation of measures, methods of collecting information, the significance of a RSVP (reliability, standardization, validity, practicality) basis for understanding data, analyzing and summarizing results and reporting the findings and conclusions. This is a ‘’hands-on’ class with a focus on skills development and thus students, in groups, will be actively involved throughout the course from developing a survey to reporting the results. Attendance and full participation throughout the class is mandatory.



  • Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

     -discuss the foundational underpinnings of psychological measurement

     -describe the purposes of conducting surveys

     -list the advantages and disadvantages of survey data collection

     -summarize the different methods of constructing and conducting surveys

     -consult with clients on their needs for a survey

     - with clients and class partners, construct a survey that will meet the needs of the client

     -analyze the survey for its practical and psychometric integrity

     -extract and summarize the information needed to address the purpose of the survey

     -write and report describing the purpose, methods, results and conclusions of the survey

     - deliver an oral presentation of the report


Two quizzes (10% each)          20%

Proposal for survey project:      20%

Group presentation of project:  20%

Final  report of group project :   40%


There will be various points in the course where the group project proposal and points of progress will be submitted for ‘formative’ grading. The proposal for the survey to be carried out as a group project will be assessed 20%.  The final project and presentation will contribute 60% of your course grade. Also there will be 2 quizzes (20%) using a short answer and multiple choice format in the first part of the course to ensure a solid grasp of material from class presentation and the textbook.


The final project will determine the bulk of the grade.  Each group will present their project and results to the class (20%) and submit a final paper/report (40%) that may take different formats to be determined.


Note:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations ( you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


There will be two quizzes (worth 10% each)   during the first part of the course to ensure that students have a solid grasp of textbook and class presentation material.  The format will be a combination of multiple choice and short answer.


  • Please note the dates in the outline below are ‘tentative’. Students should be prepared and willing to accept some flexibility in the planning and scheduling of this course which in the main, is determined by the survey projects we undertake and the schedules of our community partners.


Date                   Topic                                                                                                               Text chapter


Sept 12             Introduction to applied psychological research and survey methods.              Chpt  1

Sept 19             Survey participants: who are they are how to encourage responding.             Chpts2-3

Sept 26             Developing the survey; what are the questions to be addressed                     Chpts 4-6


Oct  3               Measurement methods: questionnaires, online surveys, interview (Quiz1)      Chpts 7-10

Oct 10               Reading Week

Oct 17              Data collection and analyses                                                                            Chpts 11-12

Oct 24              Group project: literature review, questions to be addressed, methodology

Oct 31              Group project: literature review, questions to be addressed, methodology cont.

                          (proposal submission) (Quiz 2)

Nov 7               Project proposal; data collection (proposal submission)

Nov 14              Project proposal; data collection cont. & data analyses

Nov 21              Data analyses

Nov 28              Project writeup: report, journal article, poster; ppt. presentation preparation


Dec 8               Project presentation (oral presentation; written report) and course recap.



*Special Topics/Guest Speakers/Community Partners:


Community partners with whom we will be collaborating with will be consulting with the class and groups as required.  Possible invited speakers, topics and dates will be announced in class.


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.