The impact of student workload on learning experiences at CUHK

Principal Supervisor

Professor Carmel McNaught, Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research


3 years

Approved Budget

HK $500,000

  • Project Objectives
  • Description of process, outcomes or deliverable
  • Evaluation
  • Dissemination, diffusion and impact

Project Objectives

For some years, anecdotal evidence implies that students are overloaded with work in certain programmes and courses, which might discourage deep approaches to learning. The project investigated factors influencing the perception of workload. Suggestions for a balanced curriculum to achieve better learning outcomes were developed.

Description of process, outcomes or deliverable

Data collection:

  • Informal interviews with teachers
  • Survey sent to all undergraduate students
  • Learning diaries produced by 14 students from 6 faculties
  • Evaluation

    Key findings:

    • Students’ perceptions of workload: Many students regarded the present workload as heavy. However, there was no statistical relationship between the amount of time spent on academic tasks and students’ perception of workload. Controlling factors seem to be about the meaningfulness of the activities. Learning environment and expected learning outcomes are key factors affecting workload perception.
    • Workload was imbalanced throughout the semester.
    • Peer learning does not seem to be common at CUHK.
    • Many of the reported formal in-class learning activities in the learning diary study were traditional and individual.
    • Joining university society activities was the most common informal learning activity.

    Dissemination, diffusion and impact

  • Formal consultations, such as the annual consultation with each undergraduate programme.
  • Personal contacts with teachers.
  • Formally included in CLEAR assessment workshops.
  • Learning Activity website has appropriate suggestions.