How to: Create Groups

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What are groups?

The group function in Canvas is a collaborative tool which allows you to organise students so they can work together on projects and assignments.


  • Each group space acts like a small version of the course, containing a number of tools over which the students have full control.
  • There are different ways to create groups:
    • Teachers can allow students to create their own groups.  These are self organised by students.
    • Teachers can great groups manually, allowing them to select the members of each group.
    • Groups can also be created automatically. In this case Canvas will generate the groups and assign student to each group randomly.
    • Teachers can allow students to self sign-up to their group of preference.
  • Teachers can assign a student leader to each group.
  • Teachers can create group Collaborations.

How do I create groups?

In order to create groups, you must first create a group set.  A group set is a container of groups, inside which you create the groups.

Creating the group set

  1. Click People on the navigation bar.
  2. Click Add Group Set.
  3. Enter the name for the Group Set, e.g., project topics, reading groups, etc.
  4.  If you want students to allocate themselves to groups, select Allow self sign-up.  Alternatively, you can create the groups manually by selecting I’ll create groups manually.
  5. Once you made your selection click Save.
  6. You will be taken back to the Groups page, and can proceed to create the groups.

Creating the groups manually

  1. To add groups, click +Group.
  2. Enter a Group Name.
  3. Specify the maximum number of members.
  4. Click Save.
  5.  Repeat steps from 6 – 10 to add another group.
  6. Assign students by dragging the student (by name) to the group. You can also click the plus sign (+) next to the student’s name and select the group from the list.

It is almost the same to Blackboard Groups assignment in that:

  • Groups will have their own areas to collaborate on.
  • You will be able to assign assessment tasks to groups.
  • You can communicate directly to the members of the group.
  • A home page will be created for each group.

  • Learn more about Self Sign-up groups [Canvas community documentation].
  • Learn more about creating groups automatically [Canvas community documentation].
  • Learn more about starting a collaboration with a group [Canvas community documentation].
  • You can edit a group at any time.
  • You can clone an existing group set.
  • If creating a group manually you will have to choose the group leader.
  • If creating groups automatically, groups will be named based on the group set name.
  • All students must be assigned to a group before publishing the assignment.


Can I give students individual feedback on a group assignment?

When you set up your assignment you can select to Assign grades to each student individually, and thus give students individual grades and feedback. Or, if this is not selected, you can still provide individual feedback on a group submission by going to Grades, clicking the cell with the student’s score for the assignment, and then clicking the comment icon in the right corner of the cell.

Comments in Gradebook

How do students submit group assignments?

In the student view, group assignments are identical to other assignments. Like with other assignments, a Submit Assignment button will be visible when the assignment is available. However, after one member of the group submits something, the button will display Re-submit Assignment.

When students submit or re-submit files to a group assignment, a read-only copy of the file is saved to their Group area in Files > Submissions.

How to we deal with duplicate names (different students with the same name) when assigning students to groups?

Canvas can’t display students by their student ID number but you can use the group set-up page search field to search by their ID number.

How do I see the whole student name on the assigned students group set-up list? 

If you’re working on a small screen (laptop), part of the student’s name might be obscured. To expand the buttons, you can minimise the course menu by clicking the hamburger menu icon next to the breadcrumbs.

hamburger icon

When in a student group, can students see a teacher’s email address? 


Staff view

Student view


How do I communicate with individual groups in Canvas?

You can use the Conversations (Inbox) function to communicate with the individual groups in your course.  When composing a message, click on the arrow next to Select course, and then select the group from the list.  To learn more about conversations, refer to How to: Use conversations in Canvas.

The resources below [Canvas community documents] will assist your students to understand groups:

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