Tips & tricks for managing and grading Canvas Assignments

Andrea McLaganCanvasLeave a Comment

Following are a selection of tips for using Assignments and Gradebook. If you know of other tricks, mistakes to avoid, or ways to make the most of Assignments and the Gradebook, please share them in the Comments below. For general how-to information on assessment and feedback in Canvas, see Canvas Help: Feedback & Assessment.

Mute assignments until you’re ready to release feedback to all students

By default, Canvas assignments are set up to send students feedback and grades as soon as you enter it through the Gradebook or Speedgrader. If you’d like to release all grades and feedback at once, or want to enter preliminary grades and then moderate them, you can mute your assignments when you set them up and then unmute them when you’re ready to share the grades and feedback. When you unmute a graded assessment, students will see a the grade and feedback, and an updated ‘total’ for all assessments on their Grades page.

For instructions, see the Canvas Guides How do I mute or unmute an assignment in the Gradebook? or How do I mute or unmute an assignment in SpeedGrader?

Please note, for Turnitin assignments graded with Turnitin’s Feedback Studio you also need to set the Feedback Release Date in the assignment settings. Once this date arrives students will see grades and feedback on the page via the assignment link in Feedback Studio, even if the assignment has been muted in Canvas.

Make sure you give every student a grade, even the ones who don’t submit anything

If a student doesn’t submit an assessment and you don’t enter a zero against their name, their final grade will be calculated as if they’d achieved 100% on said assessment.

There are three ways to give a student zero for an assessment they didn’t submit:

(1) Set the gradebook to treat ungraded items as zero. This is a course wide setting in the Grades tool. Open the Grades tool, select the settings icon (the cog on the top, right-hand side), and select ‘treat ungraded as zero’. With this setting on, students who don’t submit an assignment and therefore have have no score will be treated as though they scored a zero on the assignment. See the Canvas guide: How do I treat ungraded assignments as zero in the Gradebook.

(2) Manually enter a zero by clicking on the box next to their name and typing it in. See the Canvas Guide How do I enter and edit grades in the Gradebook? and How to: Use Gradebook in Canvas for more information.

(3) Use the Default Grade function, which allows you to give all students who haven’t submitted the same grade at once. For more set-by-step instructions or more information see the Canvas Guide How do I set a default grade for an assignment? or this useful Gradebook guide from the University of Adelaide.

Manage groups of small assessments with Assignment Groups and Weighting

If you have a number of small assignments that account for a percentage of the total grade (for example, a few quizzes or discussions that make up 10% of the total grade) you can use weighted Assignment Groups to organise these.

According to Canvas, this feature “assigns a weight to each assignment group, not the assignments themselves. Within each assignment group, a percentage is calculated by dividing the total points a student has earned by the total points possible for all assignments in that group.”

See How to: Add weighting to assessment items in Canvas for more information.

Mark assessments out of 100 and then allocate an overall weighting

Assignment Groups and Weighting features in Assignments can be useful if you want to mark assessments out of 100 (or another appropriate number that doesn’t correlate with the assessment’s percentage weighting) and then calculate the final value. For example, if you have three assessments, you could mark each out of 100 points, and then use the weighting to allocate each assessment’s relative value (click for a closer look):

Canvas Weighted Assessment Groups

Weighted Assessment Groups

See How do I weight the final course grade based on assignment groups? for more information.

Delete unused Assignment Groups

The names of all Assignment Groups will be visible to students, even when they do not have any published assignments in them.

Assignment Group names will show up in the students’ Grades page. If you use Assignment Weighting, they will also appear on the Syllabus page.

You can hide the Gradebook Total column from students’ view

If you plan to moderate grades outside Canvas or simply do not want to show students the total grade, you can hide it in Settings > Course details > More options. See How do I hide totals in my students’ grade summaries? for more information.

Use the Notes column in Gradebook to record additional information about students

Canvas says the Notes column in the Gradebook can be used “to keep track of extra information in your course…or just general student notes. The Notes column is not visible to students.” It is also not visible to staff by default. See the Canvas Guide How do I use the Notes column in the Gradebook? for instructions on how to make it visible to staff, and for more information.

The notes column could be useful for recording and sorting by student groups, however please note that data entered into the Notes column cannot be uploaded or downloaded via CSV from the Gradebook.

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