Battle of the Workloads
Aaron Krish
akris821@uwsp.edu

A fundamental concern for many students is the amount of work they must do within their chosen field of study. There is a definite idea that some majors may be easier than others in terms of the amount of work distributed to students.

So what is the overall opinion of other majors from students who view them from the outside? There is a possibility students are envious of other majors and the amount of work that they do.

Biology professor Dr. Todd Huspeni discusses the views of the professors on the subject.

“In the context of faculty conversations, the subject of workloads has not come up as a problem,” Huspeni said. “As a faculty member, it is unclear to me what the out-of-class number of hours expectation is for students. There is no sense of agreement to what an acceptable number of hours would be deemed too much or too little.”

Huspeni explained that it is necessary to be precise in what is meant by the workload. Is it the number of course credits required for the major or the amount of work the instructor requires of their students?

Students often define workload as the amount of time spent studying. Huspeni argues differently.

“Aspects of the workload definition are certainly dependent on student values,” Huspeni said. “Students with strong impressions might be making judgments of value of the course, more than evaluating the workload and what the professor is asking them to do.”

As an example, a science major may not think that two hours of work to complete a lab report is reasonable, whereas an art major might not consider 6 hours of work to complete a project unreasonable.

There is an understanding that some degree programs require many more credits than others. Senior art major Rachel Sieber, explains there is more than what meets the eye looking from the outside into a different major.

“Our workload is fairly large. We are expected to do a lot of hands-on work that may typically take longer than other individual’s homework,” Siebers said. “There is more of a thought process than what people give us credit for, and it takes a significant amount of pre-planning before we jump into a project.”

A science major and an art major may argue that they have more work than an English or an education major, or vice versa. Some students go as far to say that some majors are even easier than others.

The communication major has been criticized as being easy. Communication major Nick Boehm disagrees that the major is easier than others.

“We don’t have less work to do, but we do have different work,” Boehm said. “In communication you don’t have the same type of work as other majors, but you do have the same amount of it, in my opinion.”

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding between the different majors about what is being accomplished within each degree.

Students on the outside may criticize other majors, such as communication, because the nature of the work in general is different than what science, art and all other majors do.

Of course the amount of work between majors is going to differ, but it depends on the student as well. Even the nature of the work within the major will differ based on what the student wants to do with the degree.

“If we lack toughness in our coursework, we make up for it in practicality,” Boehm said. “I might not be able to solve a calculus equation, but I don’t want to do that anyway. The things we do in comm are easier to apply to real work problems and will help us after graduation.”

At the end of the day, though, most professors will agree that the workload boils down to one thing. Every major and department on campus bases their work around the curriculum. Professors are dedicated to teaching a curriculum that meets the essential learning outcomes that they want students to meet.

“We want students to come out of their programs with a certain set of skills,” Huspeni said. “The question is not how many hours it takes to do that, but did the students meet the objectives and take something away from their program.”