Teaching Expectations and Curricular Planning

Chairs and Directors are responsible for distributing teaching workloads equitably among all colleagues, for ensuring the efficient application of teaching resources, and for ensuring that all faculty workloads reflect curricular, departmental, and/or programmatic needs.

Teaching responsibilities for full-time faculty members are guided by a balance of three measures: course preparations, contact hours, and enrolled students.  Full-time faculty members teach an average of 4.5 course preparations, 18 contact hours, and 90 enrolled students per academic year, as averaged over 4 years.  All of these numbers represent a total of Fall, Winter, and Spring semesters.  Because of differences in pedagogy across disciplines, faculty teaching responsibilities can vary from these averages, provided that these variations maintain a balance between measures that are higher and lower than average (e.g., a colleague may have a smaller-than-average number of courses if they have a higher-than-average number of students or contact hours).  The most common teaching schedule is to teach two courses during each Fall and Spring semester, and a Winter Term course every other year. Chairs have flexibility in distributing teaching loads as long as the department average falls within those ranges for any given academic year, and as long as the distribution of teaching loads is such that the Department or Program is meeting its commitment to college-wide curricular needs, including Winter Term, the Writing Program, and the FYSE program. A summary of the specific guidelines follows:

1. All faculty workloads, averaged over a four-year period and including all semesters (Fall, Winter Term, and Spring), should fall within the following ranges:

3.5-5.5 course preparations per academic year

65-115 enrolled students per academic year

14-22 contact hours per academic year

2. Faculty who are below the average in one of these measures by any significant amount should, at a minimum, be at or above the averages in both of the other two, and, to a corresponding extent, above the average in at least one.  Chairs/Directors should consult with the Dean of the Faculty if they are unsure about whether a given faculty member’s teaching load is consistent with the guidelines.

3. Full-time faculty must teach at least one course in every Fall and Spring semester.

4. Faculty whose teaching loads are above or below these guidelines are expected to work with the Chair of their department or program and/or the Dean of the Faculty to chart a future teaching trajectory that is consistent with these guidelines.

5. A full course release reduces the above averages and ranges by 1 course preparation, 4 contact hours, and 20 students.  A half course release reduces each measure by half of these amounts.

6. A single course preparation is defined as a body of material taught in a specific term and listed with a distinct number.  A course may include any combination of lectures, discussion sections, workshops, screenings, or any other format that is best suited for teaching a particular subject.

7. The same course taught in two distinct sections in any single term will count as a single course preparation, but with a correspondingly larger number of contact hours and enrolled students than a single section would.

8. Lab sections that require each student to meet for a minimum of 150 minutes per week and are taught solely by the faculty instructor count as 0.5 of a course preparation in total.  That is, a course that is taught with laboratory sections will count as 1.5 courses regardless of the number of laboratory sections.  The contact hours associated with each lab section do, however, count independently.  (A course taught with three 50-minute lectures per week and two 3-hour lab sections per week would thus count for 1.5 courses and 9 contact hours.)  In a course where each student attends fewer than 150 minutes of lab per week, a faculty member may combine laboratory sections associated with multiple course preparations to reach the 150-minute threshold for a 0.5 course preparation.  (For example, if a faculty teaches two courses, each of which requires students to attend a 75-minute lab each week, that faculty member would reach the 150-minute threshold and be able to claim a 0.5 course preparation.)

9. An enrolled student is defined as one student in a distinctly numbered course.  (Students enrolled in different types of sections of a course—e.g., a lecture and a discussion section—count only once.)

10. A contact hour is a 50-minute period in which a faculty member formally meets with students in a required, scheduled, interactive, credit-bearing academic pursuit.  Discretionary teaching commitments (film screenings, voluntary help sessions, self-scheduled review sessions) do not count as contact hours.

11. A standard Winter Term course, meeting for 8-10 hours per week, counts as 4 contact hours for the year. This is to make weekly contact hours in Winter Term comparable to those in the regular term so fall, winter, and spring hours can be added together to get a total for the year.  The expectation that faculty teach an average of 18 contact hours per year was computed based on this conversion for Winter Term courses. When a Winter Term course meets for more than 10 hours/week, the course counts for half the number of actual weekly contact hours.

12. Because the teaching guidelines are given by the total over all three semesters, Winter Term courses are comparable to Fall and Spring semester courses for the purposes of teaching workload, and thus faculty may teach a Fall or Spring semester course in lieu of a Winter Term course, or vice versa, provided that doing so does not compromise the department or program’s ability to meet its responsibility to participate in Winter Term. 

13. Team-taught courses in which both faculty members participate fully throughout the semester will be credited to both faculty members as they would if taught by a single instructor.  However, faculty members may be limited to two such team-taught courses every five years, unless the team-taught course is part of a contractual obligation.  Exceptions to this policy can be granted in advance by the Dean of the Faculty.  If responsibilities in a team-taught course are divided between the two instructors, each faculty member will receive credit for 0.5 preparations, half the total students, and half the total contact hours.  There is no limit on the number of courses that a faculty member can team-teach using this division of duty.

14. Department chairs should attempt to distribute thesis supervision duties equitably.  Where it is impossible to avoid overburdening a particular faculty member, his or her teaching load may be adjusted in consultation with the Dean of the Faculty.

15. A one-semester senior tutorial of approximately 9 students will typically count as one course preparation, three contact hours, and the actual number of enrolled students.

16. The equivalent of up to four 0700-level student credits of independent senior work per academic year is considered to be a normal part of a faculty member’s workload.  Student credits of 0700-level advising beyond the expected four may be banked for future course release.  Upon accumulating ten student credits of 0700-level advising beyond the expected four, faculty may request a full course release in consultation with the department chair or program director.

17. A faculty member who significantly surpasses these general expectations may apply for one full course release over a five-year period. 

Enrollment Limits

Minimum and maximum enrollment of courses is left to the discretion of each department.  Normally courses with more than 45 enrolled students will be offered only when major requirements, lecture format, and physical resources dictate that as the most effective pedagogy.  Any changes to the enrollment limits must be approved by the Dean of Curriculum and the Curriculum Committee must be notified.

Faculty members teaching in more than one department or program will have to consult with both chairs/directors. On the Department/Program Staffing Report (described under “Overview of Teaching Expectations”, above), the Department Chair will provide a proposed maximum enrollment for each course, which will also be used when completing Banner Course Forms.

Banner forms will be preprinted with the enrollment maximum and the anticipated enrollment based on the last time the course was offered.  Faculty members will be asked to review these numbers and revise them as appropriate.  Enrollment changes should be confirmed with the Department Chair or Program Director.

The maximum enrollment figures will be used by Course Scheduling to assign appropriate classrooms. The maximum enrollment listed on the Banner form for each course should reflect an accurate expectation of maximum class size, as room scheduling proceeds more smoothly when the scheduling office has realistic estimates of course size. 

Staffing Reports

The Chair/Director provides oversight of curricular planning to ensure consistent coverage of needed courses, equitable distribution of teaching assignments, and optimal use of staffing resources.  Curricular planning culminates in the creation of a Department/Program Staffing Report, summarizing the individual Faculty Teaching Plans that are submitted to the Chair/Director on December 4, 2017. Recognizing that different departments/programs have different curricular planning structures, the following guidelines are designed to provide an overview of how a Chair/Director might approach the creation of those reports.

Fall semester (beginning in November):

The Chair develops a list of courses needed for the following academic year, divided into F/W/S.

In developing this list, chairs are mindful of the following: the overall number of courses offered in relevant categories (e.g., 0100-, 0200-, and 0300-level); requirements and electives for the major, minor, or tracks; FYS and College Writing commitments; regular commitments to interdisciplinary programs and the winter term curriculum; anticipated movement of students into upper-level sections.

Program directors should contact program affiliates and invite colleagues either to teach a particular course(s) or to propose a course they wish to teach.  Program Directors then contact the Chair of any departmental colleague who may be able to teach a program course, copying the Dean of the Faculty, requesting that the department accommodate the colleague’s request to teach the program course.  This latter step is not necessary in situations in which a colleague has a contractual obligation to a particular program.  The Dean of Faculty will work with Program Directors to try to facilitate availability of departmental colleagues to teach requested courses.

Solicit input and feedback on proposed list of courses from colleagues, requesting that colleagues inform the Chair/Director of:

  •  Changes to leave schedule/plans,
  • New courses for which a faculty member intends to seek  approval,
  • Any commitments to or interest in teaching courses in another department or program.

Meet with faculty colleagues to review individual faculty teaching plans.

Faculty Teaching Plans are submitted via BannerWeb to the Chair/Director no later than December 4, 2017.

Winter term:

Chairs/Program Directors will review and approve individual Faculty Teaching Plans via BannerWeb no later than January 15, 2018.

Chairs/Program Directors will review Departmental Teaching Summaries and submit via BannerWeb to the EAC no later than January 15, 2018.

Forms will be reviewed by the EAC and the Academic Administration. Department Chairs/Program Directors may be contacted for further discussion of allocation of teaching resources. EAC review will be completed by mid-February.

Academic Administration
Old Chapel
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753