New Instructor Roles in Canvas

Summer course shells are now available in Canvas, and with them come three new instructor roles that take the place of the Teacher role: Principal Instructor, Supervisory Instructor, and Auxiliary Instructor. In this post we’ll look at the reason for this change and how it could affect you.

As our systems grow in complexity, the interactions between them become increasingly important. The University has conceptualized these interactions as the Student Digital Ecosystem (SDE).

venn diagram showing SDE interactions

As shown in the diagram above, these systems have different levels of privacy and different uses. In this post, we’re looking at the connection between the Curriculum Management System and Teaching and Learning Tools, like Canvas.

Instructors are entered in the Human Resources System (HRS) and assigned to courses by their departments in Class Section Builder. This information now feeds into Canvas (and AEFIS and other programs) so that the process is consistent and efficient. This also enables the university to document that a qualified instructor is associated with each course, in accordance with Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation requirements.

The assigned roles in Canvas depend on both HRS and Class Section Builder records.

  • A Principal Instructor is “a qualified staff member who is active in course delivery and recognized by the students as one of the (and most typically only) lead instructors of the course section. A course section could have multiple principal instructors, but every course section must have at least one Principal instructor.”
  • A Supervisory instructor is “a qualified staff member who oversees courses and grading when the Principal Section instructor does not meet standards according to the Policy on Minimum Qualifications for Instructional Staff or when the Principal section instructor, by HR title definition, needs supervision.”
  • An Auxiliary instructor is “a qualified staff member who provides a small portion of instruction in a section but does not have overall or substantial responsibility for the course or section.”

Faculty and Academic Staff may have any of the 3 roles in Canvas. Teaching Assistants (as identified in the HR system) can be Principal Instructors or TAs in Canvas. Teaching Assistants with a Principal Instructor role in Canvas do require supervision.

If you have questions about your role in a course, questions about Canvas, or anything Teaching and Learning related in the College of Engineering, please contact us at CEETE (