Teaching Policies & Resources — Student Workload Guidelines

It is important to impress upon students the time and dedication required to become a successful student at The University of Iowa.

Faculty might consider reminding students of the IOWA Challenge and its statement of UI expectations for students' achievement and behavior. When students arrive at Iowa for Orientation, the goals of the Challenge are discussed, with students understanding that they are expected to set high academic standards for themselves but that they must also work to achieve this success. It can be helpful to remind students what academic excellence specifically means in a particular discipline and to show students through an early evaluation of their work a concrete definition of those expectations.

The RISE Reports detail research on students' attitudes toward learning at Iowa and the importance of faculty creating an expectation of dedicated work and academic excellence. Many students in the reports express a wish for greater academic challenge.

In planning assignments for a course, an instructor should be aware of these needs of students as well as of the guideline that each semester hour of class time should entail around two hours per week of outside homework and class preparation for the average student.

For example, in a 3 semester hour course, students should expect (on average) 6 additional hours of outside work per week or a total of around 9 hours per course per week if classroom time is included. A student taking 5 courses (3 s.h. each) should expect to spend around 45 hours a week on academic work. Many students need to be taught the importance of this figure and that faculty consider 45 hours of academic work a week the norm. Many students, especially first-year students, believe that studying "a lot" can be defined as around 12 hours a week.

The Registrar uses time within the classroom to assign credit hours to a course, with 750 minutes of instructional time per semester equal to 1 semester hour of credit. (Courses worth 3 s.h. thus meet for 2250 minutes per semester.)

When planning outside workload for students, instructors should take into consideration both the credit hours of the course and the ratio of the classroom time to preparatory work performed by students.

New students are often unaware of University traditions and expectations, and it can be helpful to inform them of the credit hour to workload ratio and to remind them of faculty expectations.