How to Estimate Course Workload — Solution for Teachers

As teachers come to designing or revising their syllabi, one of the toughest questions is how much work to assign for each of the course tasks.

The problem is that different kinds of tasks demand different time. For instance, different kinds of texts may be read with different speed and attention, assignments on new skills take more time to complete than assignments on familiar skills, etc. Besides, students have individual abilities and needs.

That’s why educators Elizabeth Barre and Justin Esarey from Rice University have developed the Course Workload Estimator. It is the tool that can help educators better understand what to expect from their students. According to them, there has not been enough research on the topic. They talk about the existing researches on reading speed, comprehension, time students spend on writing, etc.

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They explain how the calculations are used in the Course Workload Estimator. For instance, if you want to estimate the amount of required reading for a course, you can take into account the following factors: page density, the purpose of reading, the amount of new information, etc. When using the tool, a teacher may estimate the workload more correctly.

Barre and Esarey say that many teachers underestimate the fact that different tasks take different time. With the help of the tool, workload expectation will be clearer, learning process will be improved, and teachers will be less frustrated.

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