Excessive academic workload has been cited as a leading cause of medical student stress, depression, and drop out. A study was conducted at a Southeastern Medical School to identify a relationship between institutionally prescribed workload (objective workload) and the students' perceptions (subjective workload). The existing school workload policy and the Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence workload estimator were utilized to calculate time to complete two types of academic artifacts: (1) assigned (required) course materials and (2) recommended (optional) course materials, which we compared at the Module level to identify difference in objective workload. The students' perceptions of workload were analyzed according to the Keller's Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction framework for student motivation and compared to the student's statements of satisfaction for each module. Additionally, a content analysis to analyze the learning objectives for the highest and lowest instructional day workload was performed. Results from the study indicated similar objective workload calculations comparing the USCOM out of class workload policy and the RICE CTE workload estimator when the lowest difficulty and purpose parameters were selected. The selection of higher difficulty and purpose parameters within the RICE CTE workload estimator indicated a significant variance in workload calculations. Learners were generally motivated by the course content and delivery methods but preferred more self-directed learning methods. Content analysis for two courses resulted in rejection of 13% and 16% of learning objectives analyzed due to poor construction and lack of objective based language. The remainder of the learning objectives analyzed resulted in a 20% categorized as Higher Order Cognitive Skills (HOCS). Innovations of this study included categorizing medical student workload in the domains of objective and subjective workload, the use of the Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence workload calculator as an alternative for course workload estimation, as well as well as assessing medical student's motivation utilizing Keller's model of motivation.


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Graduation Date





Campbell, Laurie


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Teacher Education

Degree Program

Education; Instuctional Design and Technology




CFE0008516; DP0024192





Release Date

May 2021

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)