The Excel template allows module designers and/or leaders to reflect on, and build a record of, the number of weekly notional learning hours expected of students for contact time, self-study and assessment. It helps analyse if module design sets appropriate hours for effective learning and assessment, and moreover the welfare of students, viz commitments in other modules. The detailed expected learning time can be used to complete the MA1, shared with students to aid effective time management, and/or used as an input in module development. Data for individual modules can be aggregated to analyse the workload of any and every student in the university, on a weekly basis across the entire calendar year.

Measurable Benefits

  1. Where greater detail in design is practiced, impact on student welfare can be traced in Module evaluations process, under questions such as: “Did you find the workload manageable?” and free comment questions.
  2. The practice can be referred to in HEA status awards by providing evidence under the Activity “A1: Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study”, particularly supporting commitment to:V1: Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities (HEA 2011):
    V2: Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners
    K2: Appropriate methods for teaching, learning and assessing in the subject area and at the level of the academic programme
    K3: How students learn, both generally and within their subject/ disciplinary area(s)
  3. Where this tool is completed for all modules in a course, department can analyse and diagnose any unreasonably “designed-in” spikes in student work, and develop mitigating interventions. Current situation can be statistically documented and development reported.
  4. Where Student Welfare and Counselling were to track workload and work/life balance issues as part of motivation for student referrals, correlations with certain courses and their analysed workload could be mapped.

How it Works

  1. Follow this link and download a copy of the spread sheet, and save it locally.
  2. Watch this video that explains the value of the spreadsheet, by connecting it to fields required on the new MA1 form and a providing a work through that illustrates common problems with designing in excessive student work time, as well as how the tool helps us analyse this and design such issues out.
  3. Complete the spreadsheet for your modules, analyse them and use this for developmental reflection.
  4. Ask your colleagues to do the same, combine the data for a given degree pathway, and use this information to analyse and reflect on planned student workload for your entire degree.
  5. Lobby the university to embed this functionality into the online MA1 form process to take a sector leading approach to Wellbeing Pedagogies.

Practical Example

Individual Perspective

As I have developed this tool as a way to help me reflect on how I planned student notional working time, I have become very concerned with my prior practices – which entirely failed to think reasonably about what I was implicitly and explicitly asking of my students. Using this tool as a starting point module design has also equipped me to complete the new MA1 form much more effectively and deliberatively than colleagues, and aggregating it in course design and approval has facilitated a significant improvement in my contributions to learning and student welfare.

Student Feedback

This quote was raised by a student about their experience with the curriculum at Warwick without prior knowledge of this pedagogy. However, it comprehensively highlights its importance in reshaping the learning environment.

  • "Departments should communicate with each other in terms of module timing, because often students aren’t able to prepare for the term or complete their work when there are clashes or become overburdened."