The Perceptions of Students' Workload in Science at a New Zealand Polytechnic

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Students generally view papers in science as hard work, often requiring a greater time commitment than students who study non-science papers of equal credit value. On the other hand, the perceptions of instructors in science may not necessarily agree with those of their students.This pilot study will report on both students' and instructors' perceptions of workload in a selection of science papers at a New Zealand polytechnic.

The science papers included in the study all have a face-to-face component which is easy to quantify. However, each of these papers also has a 'self-directed' component with a recommended total time. In reality, we do not know at this stage exactly how much time students actually devote to 'self-directed' study. This component includes student activity like reading, writing laboratory reports and studying for class tests and final examinations. Attempts to quantify this self-directed' component from student log sheets will be described.

The results of this study will inform science instructors in their future planning of the content, delivery and assessment of science papers, e.g. instructors may need to review their assessments if it is shown that students are spending a disproportionately huge amount of time preparing for assessments.


Keywords: Student Workload, Perceptions of Workload, Quantifying Workload
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Mr Victor Fester

Academic Developer, Capability Development, The Waikato Institute of Technology
Hamilton, New Zealand

As an Academic Developer, I advise mostly new instructors on teaching-related matters, e.g. lesson planning, student-centred learning design, assessment practices. The use of the learning management system, Moodle, is also encouraged through my unit. Engagement with these instructors is mostly through one-to-one contact in a conversational style, though a great deal of my work also involves workshop presentations with instructors on a variety of topics. I am also a 'retired' chemist, having taught chemistry in a tertiary setting for 22 years!

Adam McMillan

Manager, Capability Development, The Waikato Institute of Technology
Hamilton, New Zealand

As the manager of the Capability Development team at The Waikato Institute of Technology, I oversee and coordinate capability development for all staff, including academic staff. Our team includes key players like academic developers, an instructional designer, a learning technologist, an IT specialist and a non-academic staff developer. Instructors are also encouraged and assisted, through our team, to adopt e-learning practices in their teaching, e.g. the use of Moodle is a key focus in our engagement with instructors. Members of our team are also involved in a number of research initiatives both on-campus and through collaboration with other agencies.

Ref: L09P0473