A qualitative study of perception of workload found that it was very weakly related to hours of work. The complex construct was better characterised as being influenced by a broadly conceived teaching and learning environment. It appeared to be possible to encourage students to perform a great deal of high-quality work, without complaining about excessive workload, by attention to this environment. This hypothesis was tested quantitatively with structural equation modelling with a sample of 3320 undergraduate students at a university in Hong Kong. The hypothesised model had nine factors of the teaching and learning environment grouped under three higher-order latent variables: teaching, teacher-student relationships and student-student relationships which have influences on perceived workload. The model showed a good fit to the data, confirming the hypothesis that attention to the teaching and learning environment can spur students to work hard without feeling overly stressed. The questionnaire could be used as a diagnostic tool to discover which aspects of the environment need attention.
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