Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
Higher Education Research & Development vol:33 issue:4 pages:684-698
Students’ workload has been recognised as a major factor in the teaching and learning environment. This article starts by structuring the different conceptualisations of workload described in the scientific literature. Besides the traditional distinction between objective and subjective or perceived workload, a distinction between conceptualisations focusing on the perception of quantitative and qualitative aspects of workload comes to the fore. This qualitative study investigates what workload means for students in higher education. Forty civil engineering and educational sciences master students were interviewed. The results show that ‘having time’ is a precondition for the experience of a manageable workload. When this precondition is fulfilled, the interest of a student, and the ability to plan and set priorities play a main role in the perception of workload. Finally, the results show that several aspects of the learning environment can influence this interest and the perception of workload.