Research Reports

You are here: Census.govSubjects A to ZResearch Reports Sorted by Year › Abstract of SSM2007/12
Skip top of page navigation

Cognitive Interview Results and Recommendations for the 1996 National Content Test

Nancy Bates, Karen Bogen, Theresa DeMaio, Eleanor Gerber, Jennifer Hess, Cleo Jenkins, Elizabeth Martin, Jeffrey Moore, Jennifer Rothgeb, and Dawn Von Thurn

KEY WORDS: cognitive testing; think-aloud technique; census long form; skip instructions; comprehension problems


Cognitive interviews (n = 10) were conducted to determine participants’ comprehension and navigation during completion of particular questions from the Census long form for the 1996 National Content Test. Results indicated the following global issues: 1) respondents had a very difficult time following skip instructions, especially when embedded in lots of other text; 2) respondents were sometimes confused about which person for whom to answer; 3) respondents did not skip unnumbered items; and 4) respondents exhibited frustration when answering the same question multiple times. There were few comprehension problems with the roster and coverage questions, but some comprehension and definitional problems existed for the education questions. Several respondents switched the focus from one household member to another during the disability questions, and there were some issues with comprehension of these questions. Very few issues existed for the labor force questions. The non-cash income questions produced multiple comprehension problems. Recommendations for question wording and questionnaire formatting are included.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: May 2, 2007
Last revised: May 2, 2007

[PDF] or PDF denotes a file in Adobe’s Portable Document Format. To view the file, you will need the Adobe® Reader® Off Site available free from Adobe.

This symbol Off Site indicates a link to a non-government web site. Our linking to these sites does not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or the information found on them. Once you link to another site you are subject to the policies of the new site.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010