Almost all course rating forms contain at least one item that taps students’ perceptions about whether the workload demands were appropriate and realistic. Their perceptions of one or both may differ from those of the instructor. That is, the instructor may view the workload as having been appropriate and realistic and the students may not. While the instructor may be right, the reality is that the students do the ratings. Consequently, if you want to maximize your ratings, it’s crucial to get as many students as possible to perceive your workload demands as having been appropriate and realistic—assuming, of course, that they were. And if they aren’t appropriate and realistic, you should modify them to make them so.
Our primary focus in this chapter will be on strategies for maximizing the likelihood that students will perceive your workload demands as both appropriate and realistic. We will begin by looking at what constitutes an appropriate and realistic workload for a course. We will then consider some criteria for determining whether a workload is, in fact, appropriate and realistic. Next, some factors are discussed that can affect students’ perceptions of whether a workload is appropriate and realistic. Finally, several strategies are described for getting students to perceive the workload for a course as being both.
A workload that demands too little can be as inappropriate as one that demands too much. While inappropriate workload demands may not discourage students from taking a course, they’re highly likely to result in