New Instructor Handbook

New Instructor Handbook


This onboarding document provides new instructors with a list of resources and topics that may be helpful as they prepare to teach a course. This document will be updated annually, but instructors should be aware that some policies and procedures may change throughout the year.

This document focuses on the logistical and operational side of teaching rather than pedagogy and best practices. For those latter resources, we encourage all instructors to visit the School of Public Health’s (SPH) Resources for Instructors Canvas Page and the UW Center for Teaching and Learning website. The below listed resources are not exhaustive, but are a curated list and cover some of the key topic areas related to teaching. See SPH’s Academic Resources page for additional resources.

1. Logistics of Getting Started with your Course


The UW uses Canvas as its learning management system (LMS). UW-IT has created online tutorials for instructors to learn about Canvas. This includes a UW Canvas template for instructors to use for their courses. For courses that have been taught previously, it is possible to copy the previous offering’s Canvas site (by importing all the previous content and layout) without having to start from scratch.

Syllabus Template

The School of Public Health (SPH) has a syllabus template that contains required and expected statements for all SPH courses. The template can be downloaded as a Word document here.

Recording Lectures via Panopto

SPH recommends that instructors record their lectures so that students who miss class are still able to engage with the course material. Panopto is the UW-IT-supported lecture capture solution. UW-IT has a website that describes how to use Panopto. Panopto recordings integrate with Canvas to facilitate embedding videos within the course Canvas page.

Class time assignments and room assignments

In order to meet UW scheduling deadlines, the Epi Curriculum Specialist will connect with each instructor many months in advance to finalize course meeting days, times, preferred classroom parameters, and enrollment cap.  Since classroom space is in high demand, UW and the Department of Epidemiology have established scheduling policies that require courses be scheduled in specific time slots between 8:00am to 6:00pm, M-F.  Classrooms are assigned by a centralized office and instructors usually have little control over when and where a course will be scheduled.  Any special scheduling or room requests for a course should be directed to the Epi Curriculum Specialist ( well in advance of the UW scheduling deadline.

Hiring a TA

The Department of Epidemiology allocates TA FTE primarily based on the number of students enrolled in the course in its previous offering. The current rubric is available here, on the Department of Epidemiology intranet. There is a set schedule for TA “open hire” announcements and appointment letters for EPI, which are described here. As part of the onboarding process, the EPI Staff HR Manager ( meets with each new faculty to review TA positions and timelines for hiring.

2. Logistics and Key Considerations related to Course Content

Incorporating Anti-Racism and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in your Course

The Department of Epidemiology expects that all instructors will incorporate principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and anti-racism into their courses. The Department has developed guidance for instructors on how they can modify classroom teaching and course materials to reflect these principles. The Curriculum Committee requests that instructors annually report on EDI and anti-racist teaching strategies and principles that they have incorporated into their courses. These may be via survey or may involve a discussion with the Curriculum Committee. The Curriculum Committee will email instructors in advance of the quarter in which they teach with instructions on how to report on these strategies.

The Department of Epidemiology has also created guidance on how to discuss EDI and anti-racist principles with guest lecturers in courses. The Curriculum Committee encourages all instructors to share this information with their guest lecturers.

Gifts and Parking for non-UW guest lecturers

Guest lecturers/panelists can bring an important outside perspective into a course. SPH has a policy intended to promote participation by (and thank) community partners from outside UW by offering a small gift bag to express gratitude for participating in courses as guests. These are available only for outside guest lecturers/panelists (i.e. primary employer is not UW). You can contact DJ ( to request the gift bag. Additionally, non-UW guest lecturers/panelists do not have to pay for parking at UW. Instructors should contact the Epi Curriculum Specialist ( as early as possible (well in advance of the session date) to arrange parking for course guests.

Interactive Polling (i.e. Classroom Response Systems)

Poll Everywhere is the official audience response system of the UW and is FERPA-compliant. Instructors are free to use systems other than Poll Everywhere, but Poll Everywhere is supported by UW-IT. You can learn more about Poll Everywhere here.

3. Grading  

Grade scale and uploading grades to registrar

The UW uses a numerical grading scale (0.0 to 4.0). UW grading policies for graduate students can be found here.  UW grading policies for undergraduate students can be found here.  Note that although these websites provide a number-to-letter conversion for grades, instructors may choose to use different conversion scheme than what is listed here. In the Graduate School, the minimum passing course grade is a 2.7.  A student who receives a grade lower than 2.7 in a required course must retake the course and earn a 2.7 or better in order to graduate. A student who receives a grade below 2.7 in an elective course is not required to retake it; however, the course will not count toward a degree.

At the end of each quarter, the Epi Curriculum Specialist will provide all course instructors with information about submitting course grades via the UW GradePage site. 

Assigning an Incomplete for a Final Grade Instructors may assign an “incomplete” for a final letter grade when the student has done satisfactory work up until the last 2 weeks of the quarter and has furnished proof that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. Students may convert an incomplete to a passing grade during the subsequent quarter. A complete description of when to use an Incomplete and the timeline for the student to convert it to a passing grade can be found here

4. Student Services and Resources

Academic Misconduct

UW students are expected to practice high standards of academic honesty and integrity. The University’s definition of academic misconduct is defined in the Student Governance Policy, Chapter 709 Section 7.C. SPH has developed academic integrity policies and resources which describe the policies, procedures, and processes for investigation and addressing academic misconduct.

Tutoring resources

Tutoring resources for students require payment, though there are some tutoring funds available through the Dean’s Office for core courses (EPI 512-513, Biostats intro sequence, MPH core curriculum, etc.). That process requires an application through the Dean’s Office and a departmental hiring process for payment to the tutor. Students can hire a tutor and pay them directly; the Department of Epidemiology has a list of students who have indicated interest in being tutors. To assist students with obtaining a tutor, contact the Epi Curriculum Specialist at

Writing Resources

SPH has compiled a list of writing resources available on campus for students. If your course includes written assignments, you may wish to consider sharing this resource with your students.

Supporting Students in Distress

It is our role as instructors to be aware of indicators of distress and to provide support to students. UW has developed an employee guide for Supporting Students in Distress which delineates what indicators of distress to watch out for and what to do. SPH has also developed an email template for faculty and staff to send students that includes resources for counseling and support.

Disability Resources for Students (DRS) Protocols

DRS ensures access and inclusion for all students with disabilities on the Seattle campus. DRS works with each student individually to establish academic accommodations for the purpose of eliminating the environmental barriers that may impact that student’s equitable access to campus facilities, program, and activities. If a student has activated accommodations via DRS, instructors will receive an email notification about the accommodations and the faculty responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the faculty member to read the email carefully and ensure that the appropriate accommodations are made. A general description of faculty responsibilities as they relate to DRS can be found here.