Welcome to syllabus central—the essentials faculty need to know about using syllabi at Middlebury.
The syllabus is a vital tool in preparing and executing a course. It conveys the vision of the course as well as the logic of the pedagogical approaches used, and it is a clear and ever-present guide to students. The syllabus articulates what is expected of students and what they can expect of the teacher, from one class meeting to the next, across the whole semester.
New College Policy Requiring Syllabi
In May 2022, the College faculty adopted a policy requiring the use and posting of syllabi. The Handbook-approved language stipulates that:
“The course syllabus communicates the overall expectations that the faculty has for student work. It must be issued by the instructor at the beginning of every regular course. The course syllabus shall include: general course information, instructor information, a course description, course objectives, instructional methodology, grading information, course materials, and a course outline with tentative deadlines. A basic syllabus should be uploaded to the Course Hub at least one week before classes begin.
The syllabus is subject to change as determined by the instructor with advance notice and due respect to fairness to the students as a whole. No additional major papers or projects may be announced after the end of the fifth week of the semester. No new assignments of work for evaluation may be made during the last week of classes.”
How to Meet the Syllabus Requirements
This policy makes clear the expectation that faculty will use and update a syllabus consistently throughout the semester to convey to students their course plans, expectations, and any changes that develop. The policy also includes guidelines for when and where syllabi must be distributed.
Before the semester starts, at least one week prior to the first day of classes, a basic syllabus must be posted to Course Hub.
Basic Syllabus: A basic syllabus provides advance notice to students of what to anticipate and acquire before the work of a course begins on day one. If the full syllabus is not ready for distribution at least one week ahead of the first day of classes, faculty must post a basic syllabus. See the basic vs full syllabus section below.
Course Hub: The repository for the basic syllabus is Course Hub. It has a site for each course being taught. Whether faculty use it for anything else, the basic syllabus needs to be posted to Course Hub for students to access in advance. Here are instructions on how to add a syllabus to Course Hub. For accessibility reasons, syllabi should be posted in a Word Document, not a PDF.
Using Canvas? Even faculty who use a fully-developed Canvas site to deliver all of their course info still need to post a basic syllabus a week ahead that is accessible to all students via a Word Doc on Course Hub.
At the semester’s beginning, a full syllabus must be completed and made available to students.
As soon as the full syllabus is available, faculty should replace their basic syllabus with the full syllabus on Course Hub or should provide a link to the full syllabus posted on their course’s Canvas site. Taking this step will prevent any confusion by students about which version of the syllabus to follow.
Basic vs Full Syllabus—what goes where?
- Basic Syllabus
- Made Available to Students One Week Prior to Semester Start
Course and Instructor Information—class meeting times, class location, contact info for instructor, office hours
Course Description—in keeping with the version published in the catalog
Course Structure—materials needed, learning outcomes, grading information
Course Policies and Expectations—attendance, participation, etc.
College Policies and Available Resources—academic integrity, disability access and accommodation, academic support, etc.
List of Major Due Dates—all projects, papers, and exams
Detailed Schedule for Weeks 1-3—readings and assignments
- Full Syllabus
- Made Available to Students by First Day of Semester
All of the Above Basic Syllabus Items
Detailed Schedule for Weeks 4-13
Complete Descriptions of All Assignments
Still not sure what is essential for a Middlebury Basic Syllabus? See the Dean of Curriculum’s Syllabus Guidelines.
Additional Full Syllabus Items
Where relevant, please include in the full syllabus other policies or guidelines that govern students’ approach to the course (for discussions, exam-taking, group work, writing rubrics, etc.)
Language for Description of Available Resources
The College has language readily available regarding disability resources, authorized aid and academic support, the Honor Code, etc. for faculty to include in their syllabi and then explain to their students at the start of the semester. Please see the syllabus templates below for some College-approved language you should use in your syllabi.
Making Course Materials Available and Accessible
Semester Start Availability of Assigned Readings: Remember that any assigned readings for the first few weeks of the semester should be available to students either electronically or on reserve. With books no longer purchasable on campus, you cannot expect your students to order the reading and get it in their hands in time to digest it for your class, especially in Weeks 1-2, when students are adding and dropping.
Course Materials Accessibility: Faculty need to provide students materials in accessible formats. As much as possible, confirm that your course materials are in accessible formats and/or have alternative formats available. Below are a few key recommendations.
- Documents should be in Word (not PDF) which allows students to adjust the font type and size.
- Videos should have captions available (and on display when used in class).
- Audio should have transcripts available.
- Using a microphone when available also helps make your lecture content more accessible by increasing clarity.
Full syllabus templates for MWF courses and TR courses, with class meeting dates and school breaks included, are available for your use. Faculty who teach courses on a schedule other than MWF or TR should feel free to take one of these templates and tweak it as needed.
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