Credit hours traditionally quantify expected instructional time per week in a course, informing student course selection decisions and contributing to degree requirement satisfaction. In this study, we investigate course load measures beyond this metric, including determinants from course assignment structure and LMS interactions. Collecting 596 course load ratings on time load, mental effort, and psychological stress, we investigate to what extent course design decisions gleaned from LMS data explain students’ perception of course load. We find that credit hours alone explain little variance compared to LMS features, specifically number of assignments and course drop ratios late in the semester. Student-level features (e.g., satisfied prerequisites and course GPA) exhibited stronger associations with course load than the credit hours of a course; however, they added only little explained variance when combined with LMS features. We analyze students’ perceived importance and manageability of course load dimensions and argue in favor of adopting a construct of course load more holistic than credit hours.

The talk will cover a recent paper by the same title as well as touch on related work, past and in-press.