University Of Tasmania

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Interpreting student workload and the factors which shape students' perceptions of their workload

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 23:33 authored by David KemberDavid Kember
This article examines the nature of student workload and how perceptions of it are formed. Inferences are drawn from five detailed case studies, taken from a wider sample of university students who completed an hourly diary for one week. A subsample was also interviewed. Perceptions of workload are not synonymous with time spent studying, but can be weakly influenced by them. There are both class effects from contextual variables and individual differences within a class. Perceptions of workload are influenced by content, difficulty, type of assessment, teacher–student and student–student relationships. Workload and surface approaches to learning are interrelated, in what appears to be a complex reciprocal relationship. It is possible to inspire students to work long hours towards high quality learning outcomes if attention is paid to teaching approaches, assessment and curriculum design in the broadest sense. It is, therefore, important to have open evaluation systems which gather feedback on a wide array of curriculum variables.


Publication title

Studies in Higher Education








Faculty of Education


Carfax Publishing

Place of publication

Rankine Rd, Basingstoke, England, Hants, Rg24 8Pr

Rights statement

Copyright 2004 Society for Research into Higher Education

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Learner and learning not elsewhere classified

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