Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty

Canvas provides a "gradebook" feature that enables instructors to share grades for individual items over the course of a semester with their students, and which students can use to monitor their progress in their courses. Canvas enables instructors to test students. Canvas also has a tool named the SpeedGrader, which facilitates the grading of work submitted through Canvas Assignments, posts in graded discussions in Canvas, and of tests or quizzes taken online in Canvas.

Canvas Gradebook

Canvas SpeedGrader

Testing in Canvas


Canvas Gradebook

How does the Canvas Gradebook work?
The Gradebook provides the instructor a means of easily inputting and distributing grades for students as the semester progresses

The Canvas Gradebook can serve as a communication tool between students and instructors and allows the instructor to monitor the activity of high-risk students. The Gradebook can calculate weighted grades, and assignments can be organized into groups for weighting as well. In Canvas, any graded task or item is considered an "assignment" so you may see that term used pretty widely! Canvas can also assign grades by percentage, complete/incomplete, letter grade, or by points. The Canvas gradebook is a fully featured management tool that allows instructors to:

  • Be notified when assignments submitted.
  • Notify students when an assignment has been graded.
  • View Grade history and revert updated assignment scores to previous scores.
  • Download or upload grades from the Gradebook as a CSV file.
  • Utilize offline grading capability by downloading assignment submissions into a zip file and upload when connectivity is available.
  • Elect not to let students view their grades until they are published.
  • Create custom weighting and grade ranges.
  • Report of all historical grade changes is available to the instructor.
  • Message students whom haven’t submitted yet, or scored more than X or less than Y on an assignment.
  • Leave private grading notes/comments for the student these notes or comments can be in text form, audio, or video.

What are Assignment Groups?
Assignment Groups are basically a way to organize and manage your course's graded items. As you create Assignments, Quizzes, graded Discussions and so on, you can organize them using Assignment Groups. You'll name your Assignment Groups as you create them. Assignment Groups can contain various kinds such as graded Discussions, Quizzes, and Assignments. Besides organizing items, Assignment Groups are a must if you intend to use a weighted total to calculate final class grades as explained in our Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ. Plus, with Assignment Groups, you can set up grading rules that will govern how grades for items in that Assignment Group are handled by Canvas. For example, in an Assignment Group, you can drop the lowest grade or drop the highest grade out of that group. You can also specify which Assignments should never be dropped from the Assignment Group calculation, and more. By default, all Canvas courses start off with one Assignment Group named Assignments. You can find it listed in the Assignments section of your course. For a tutorial on creating Assignment Groups, please click here.

When do students find out that I have entered or changed a grade?
By default, as soon as an instructor posts a grade students who visit the Canvas course will be able to see it, unless the instructor "mutes" the assignment (see question on muting on this page.) Students will need to set their notification preferences to be sure to receive prompt notifications about grades. Please see this page on Notifications.

How can I add columns to the Gradebook?
In Canvas, you can only generate more columns in the Gradebook by creating new graded items, such as tests, assignments, and graded discussions. You can however create assignments that are set to not require any submission by students and manually input grades into the column that is generated.

How do I sort my Gradebook?
Click on the Grades link to open the Gradebook. Click on the drop down menu next to the Gear icon to access the Gradebook sorting options. For complete, illustrated instructions please click here.

How do I enter and edit scores in the Gradebook?
Quizzes, tests, etc. that do not contain questions, such as essay questions, that must be manually graded will automatically place students' scores in the Gradebook. You can still overwrite these scores and adjust them in your Gradebook. For inputting and editing scores in columns in the Gradebook, please see this tutorial.

How do I enter letter grades into the Gradebook?
In Canvas, you do not actually type letters into your Gradebook or the SpeedGrader. Instead, you must use a grading scheme. The grading scheme will correlate percentage ranges or scores to specific letter grades. You can enable the default grading Canvas scheme or create your own grading scheme in your Canvas course, then enable your custom grading scheme. For instructions on how to enable a grading scheme (the default grading scheme or one you've created), please click here. For a tutorial on how to create a grading scheme, please click here.

Does the Gradebook count ungraded items as zeroes?
You can choose whether or not your course's Gradebook treats ungraded items as zeroes, or ignores them to create a running total. Click on the gear wheel icon at the far left end of your Gradebook, above the list of students. The dropdown menu that appears will have the choice "Treat Ungraded as 0's"; if this option is not checked, then it is off. To turn this on, click on it and a checkmark should appear next to "Treat Ungraded as 0's."

How do I leave comments for students in the Gradebook?
Please click here for a tutorial on how to leave a comment providing feedback for students via the Gradebook. You can also provide students with comments when using SpeedGrader; click here for instructions. Your comments to individual students are private.

How do I send a message to my students from the Gradebook?
From the Canvas Gradebook, it is possible to send messages (not email--but messages via Canvas' internal messaging system, the Conversations inbox) to students who have scored above or below a certain threshold or who haven't submitted work or who haven't been graded yet. For a tutorial on how to message certain categories of students from within the Canvas Gradebook, please click here.

How do I curve grades in the Gradebook?
For a tutorial on how to curve grades in your course's Gradebook, please click here for illustrated instructions and/or consult this video tutorial.

How do I drop the lowest score?
In order to drop the lowest score from a selection of assignments, you must set up Assignment Groups. For a tutorial on creating new Assignment Groups, click here. For a tutorial on how to drop the lowest score within a group of assignments, please click here.

How do I weight grades in the Gradebook?
By default, when you create graded items like assignments, tests, and discussions, Canvas categorizes them as belonging to its default Assignment Group named "Assignments." To weight grades, you'll need to create multiple Assignment Groups and then assign each Assignment Group its appropriate percentage, making sure that all of your Assignment Groups' percentages add up to 100%. For a tutorial on creating new Assignment Groups, click here. For a tutorial on weighting the final grade based on Assignment Groups, please click here.

How can students view what the average class grade is for a particular graded item in their course?
To see what the average class score is for a particular graded item, students must click on the Grades button in the left navigation panel of their Canvas course, and then once they arrive at the Grades screen, they must click on the "Show All Details" button at the right. This will reveal a graphic underneath each assignment title. The graphic shows that individual student's grade on the assignment as well as how that grade compares to the class as a whole (hover over it to see the mean, high, and low scores for the members of the class).

How do I grade attendance, participation, etc. in Canvas?
In general, you'll need to create an Assignment that is set to not require any submission. In the options for submission, choose "No Submission." This will generate a column in your Gradebook to use for categories like attendance, participation, etc. in which students have nothing to turn in, or for instances where students turn in real-world items, like baking a cake for a culinary arts course, rather than digital files. Students would not have a "submit" button so they would not be confused by the presence of this Assignment.
Additionally, if you need a weighted total for a final class grade which involves something like attendance, you could create an Assignment Group for that category. You would then be able to calculate the Attendance Assignment Group as a designated percentage of the final grade. For a tutorial on Assignment Groups, please see that topic on this page or click here. For a tutorial on weighting the final grade based on Assignment Groups, please see that topic on this page or click here.

How do I bulk download and upload submitted assignments in Canvas?
From the Canvas Gradebook, you can download all the submitted work for an assignment at once; make comments on those submissions, then bulk upload them for students to view. Students will see the uploaded files in the comments section for their submission. For detailed instructions on how to bulk download and upload submissions, please click here.

How can I view the Gradebook as a student?
Canvas has a "student view" feature that you can use to view your course in general as a student would, including even taking tests! Click here for a tutorial on how to launch the student view. Launching the student view feature adds a dummy "test student" to your Gradebook. For instructions on how to view a particular student's grades as he or she would, please click here.

How do I "mute" an assignment in the Gradebook while I'm grading it?
By default, Canvas allows students to see grades as soon as the instructor has graded the assignment, discussion, etc. In some cases, instructors may wish to prevent students from viewing their grades in order to release grades to all students at the same time. To hide student grades temporarily, an instructor can choose to mark an assignment as "muted." A "muted" assignment will not send out grade change notifications or any new instructor comments until the assignment is "unmuted." A muted assignment displays a "mute" icon on the student grades page so students know the assignment is muted and the instructor is at work on it. For a tutorial on muting an assignment, please click here.

How can I see a student's multiple submissions for the same assignment in the Gradebook?
Canvas Assignments permit students to upload multiple times for the same Assignment, which enables them to turn various drafts of their work. You can set time/date restrictions to open and close an Assignment--but while it's open, by default students can submit their work multiple times. Each submission is marked with the date and time it was submitted so you can easily distinguish among them. Canvas will also mark if a submission was turned in past the deadline.

How can I issue the same grade for all students for one assignment?
Issuing the same grade for all students for one assignment or other graded item is called issuing a "default grade" in Canvas. In gradebook, hover over the head of the column for a particular grade item in the gradebook to get the dropdown menu to select “Set Default Grade”, then the same score for all students can be issued.  You can also override any grades than have been issued and set the grade, this way the entire column can be populated with the same grade.  There is no way to populate the entire gradebook with default grades.  You cannot go through an put zeroes in for missing grades.  Only individual assignments can be issued a default grade

How can I see the total points earned by a student (not the percentage)?
Instructors can choose whether to view grades in the Gradebook's Total column by points or percentage. The Total column is at the far right end of the Gradebook and is generated automatically. This feature offers grading flexibility for instructors depending on their preferred grading styles and can be accessed by hovering over the Total column and selecting the grading view of choice. Students will receive this viewing functionality in an upcoming upgrade to Canvas; and students can still see cumulative points by hovering over their totals. Please note that this feature is only available in the Gradebook for courses that did not set up a weighted total using Assignment Groups.

How can I set up a grading scheme so that I can use letter grades in my course?
A grading scheme correlates percentage ranges or scores to specific letter grades. You can enable the default grading Canvas scheme or create your own grading scheme in your Canvas course, then enable your custom grading scheme. For a tutorial on how to create a grading scheme, please click here. For instructions on how to enable a grading scheme (the default grading scheme or one you've created), please click here.

How can I set up extra credit in my Gradebook?
One way to do this is to use Assignment Groups and make sure that the Assignment Groups total more than 100%. You could create a special Assignment Group whose worth increases the total percentage value of all Assignment Groups combined above 100%. For example, if all of your Assignment Groups total 100%, add an additional Assignment group labeled "Extra Credit" worth 5%. Now each time you create an extra credit assignment, make sure that it's categorized in this Assignment Group.

How does the Canvas SpeedGrader work?
From your course there are multiple routes to launch the SpeedGrader:  the assignment section (you will see all the graded tasks that are due:  quizzes, discussions, homework that are to be graded). On quizzes you will see a button on the right for SpeedGrader;  on the Homework assignment, open the homework and on the right will be a button for Speed Grader; for discussions there will be an icon for SpeedGrader.  Another way is through the grades button, on the column header, hover over the column header to get a dropdown arrow to access SpeedGrader choice, click on the SpeedGrader choice to get SpeedGrader for this particular item.  You will see the discussion, on the right will be a box for the grade, you do not need to save the grade as it is automatically saved, at the bottom on the right you can leave comments.  You can mute the assignment, for more questions see the Faculty FAQ for grading with Canvas.  You can click on settings to sort the students by various ways.  You can move through the SpeedGrader by clicking the backward and forwards arrows or by using the dropdown menu next to the student’s name and choosing an individual student’s name.  When you are done, you can return to the gradebook or to the course home.

For another illustration of SpeedGrader, please visit this page.
The Canvas SpeedGrader™ is a tool that enables teachers to quickly and easily grade a particular assignment, which can be launched from within the Gradebook or by visiting that assignment. Inside the SpeedGrader you will see each individual submission for that assignment, the date and time that it was submitted (students can submit their work multiple times and each version will be stamped with the date and time), and an alert if the assignment was submitted after the due date. Canvas accepts a variety of document formats and even URLs as assignment submissions. SpeedGrader automatically converts these various online submission types into a format that can be displayed by a web browser for your review. Within one frame, you can view, grade, start discussions, and provide students with written, video, and audio comments. When you have finished with one student, you can jump right to the next student without leaving SpeedGrader. Your private feedback to the student, through text, audio, or video, will be sent via the communication channels that they prefer. SpeedGrader also supports the use of Canvas' Rubrics, which can help you communicate your expectations for any given assignment. There is an iPad SpeedGrader app for teachers; for more information, please click here.

How do I launch the SpeedGrader?
The SpeedGrader can be launched from a graded discussion, assignment, or test in your Canvas course as well as from that item's own column in the Gradebook.

How do I evaluate an assignment in SpeedGrader?
First, launch SpeedGrader (see instructions on this page.) You can evaluate an assignment by entering a grade in the textbox for each student. You can also click on the View Rubric button and use the rubric to evaluate the assignment. If a student has submitted more than one version of an assignment, you can select which submission you will view by click on the dropdown menu. If you would like to submit a comment on the evaluated assignment, click on the Submit Comment button. To see these steps illustrated, please click here.

How do I enter letter grades in the SpeedGrader?
In Canvas, you do not actually type letters into the SpeedGrader or the Gradebook. Instead, you must use a grading scheme. The grading scheme will correlate percentage ranges or scores to specific letter grades. You can enable the default grading Canvas scheme or create your own grading scheme in your Canvas course, then enable your custom grading scheme. For instructions on how to enable a grading scheme (the default grading scheme or one you've created), please click here. For a tutorial on how to create a grading scheme, please click here.

How do rubrics work with the SpeedGrader?
To create a rubric for use with your Assignments, click on the Outcomes button, then Manage Rubrics. Then at the right, you'll see the option for adding a new rubric or you can find a rubric that is already stored in the course.  If you click on use this rubric for assignment grading, the rubric will do the math for you. 

How do I leave feedback for my students in SpeedGrader?
For a tutorial on how leave feedback for students via the SpeedGrader, please click here. Feedback left for students is not shared with the entire class. There are 2 ways that instructors can leave comments on Assignments that students have uploaded. First, you can always type in comments using that commenting box on the right side of the file preview pane in the SpeedGrader. This method of writing comments should also send you copies of the comments via the Canvas Conversations Inbox, which you can find by clicking on the "Inbox" link at the top right corner of the screen when you're logged in to Canvas. With certain file types, you can also place comments directly on the file you uploaded for an Assignment using a tool called Crocodoc. Please be aware, these Crocodoc comments can be a little trickier for students to find. Please direct students to this tutorial on viewing comments you've left. We recommend alerting your students to your preferred commenting method as well. For more information regarding Crocodoc and Crocodoc tech support, please click here. Here is a list of the file types that are compatible with Crocodoc.

How do I use Crocodoc in the SpeedGrader?
Please click here for a tutorial on using Crocodoc in the SpeedGrader. Here is a list of the file types that are compatible with Crocodoc.

How can I add a post to a discussion while I'm grading it in SpeedGrader?
To add a new post to a discussion while you are grading that discussion in the SpeedGrader, for the students that have submitted there will be a link for full discussion, click on that link and you will be able to type in a reply. Your comments will appear in the discussion for the class to read.

How do I download students' submissions via the SpeedGrader?
First you must launch the SpeedGrader for the assignment in question; see instructions on this page. Once you've launched the SpeedGrader, click on the Disk icon to download the assignment file to your computer. For an illustrated version of these instructions, please click here. For bulk downloading of students' submitted work, and for bulk uploading, please see the question in the Gradebook section above on this page.

How do I view multiple submissions for one Assignment in SpeedGrader?
Canvas Assignments permit students to upload multiple times for the same Assignment, which enables them to turn various drafts of their work. You can set time/date restrictions to open and close an Assignment--but while it's open, by default students can submit their work multiple times. Each submission is marked with the date and time it was submitted so you can easily distinguish among them. Canvas will also mark if a submission was turned in past the deadline. To select a particular submission by a student who's submitted more than once, go to the gradebook, click on the assignment and decide which of these assignment you want to grade.  Another way is to launch the SpeedGrader for that particular assignment, once you are in SpeedGrader you can go to the assignment and choose which of the submissions you would like to view.

I'm having trouble previewing files in the SpeedGrader or in my Canvas course.
On Sept. 29, 2012, Canvas switched from the Scribd tool for previewing files to Crocodoc. Crocodoc currently can convert PDF files, Microsoft Word files (.doc, .docx), Microsoft PowerPoint files (.ppt, .pptx), and Microsoft Excel files (.xls, .xlsx). Crocodoc currently does not display images (.png, .jpg, etc.). Files generated by Microsoft Works, the free office suite on some PCs, are NOT accepted by Crocodoc. For more information regarding Crocodoc and Crocodoc tech support, please click here.

Testing in Canvas

How do I build a quiz in Canvas? (Canvas calls all tests, exams, etc. quizzes)
Please click here for a tutorial on how to create a quiz in Canvas via the Quizzes section of your course. Canvas calls all tests, exams, etc. "quizzes," by the way.

What are the various options available for quizzes?
Please click here for an explanation of the various quiz options in Canvas.

How do I insert an image into my quiz?
If your image is already posted publicly online, such as at Flickr.com, then you can use the "embed image" icon on the editing toolbar to insert the image. You'll just need to input the image's URL, i.e. its exact web address. To insert images that are not online, you must have the image file. You will then need to upload the image file into your Canvas course and link to it. Please click here for instructions that will show you how to link to course content, such as image files or other files stored in your Canvas course’s Files area.

How can I give a student a second attempt to take a test?
This is called "moderating" a quiz in Canvas. Please see this tutorial for instructions regarding how to permit a student to take a test again. Quizzes in Canvas can be set to allow multiple attempts for all students; this tutorial addresses how to give an individual student one more go at the test.  Please note, Canvas does not permit students to resume a previous attempt and pick up where they left off--i.e., if you give a student more time or another attempts, it's an entirely new test-taking attempt, and no previously submitted answers are visible.

How can I give a student more time to take a test?
This is called "moderating" a quiz in Canvas. Please see this tutorial for instructions on how to give a student more time to take a test in Canvas or give a student more attempts to take a test. You can grant access to an individual student, several students, or the entire class to have extra attempts or extra time on a quiz. Please note, Canvas does not permit students to resume a previous attempt and pick up where they left off--i.e., if you give a student more time or another attempts, it's an entirely new test-taking attempt, and no previously submitted answers are visible.

Can students save their answers while working on a test?
Students cannot save individual answers to test questions currently, but Canvas does save the chosen/inputted answers should the browser close or crash. While students are taking a quiz they will see a "Saved at" indicator at right, underneath the quiz information and due date, showing them when their work on the test was last backed up.

Can I add extra credit questions to my quiz?
Currently, there’s no automated way to incorporate extra credit on a quiz in Canvas. However, here is a workaround you can use if you wish to add extra credit questions to a quiz: set up the quiz with the extra credit questions included, making sure that those questions are worth 0 points each so that the quiz’s total number of points is not impacted by the extra credit questions. Include specific instructions to guide students. Then after the students take the quiz, you must check their answers to those extra credit questions and manually override the scores generated by Canvas in the Gradebook to award extra credit points as appropriate.

How can I enable Respondus LockDown Browser for my Canvas quiz?
Begin editing your quiz; you will see an option in the panel at right named "Restrict this Quiz." Check the checkbox for "Restrict this Quiz" and you’ll see more checkboxes appear, including "Require Respondus LockDown Browser." Check this checkbox to require the use of Respondus LockDown Browser for students taking this assessment.

What about copying tests and question banks between Canvas courses?
The Course Import Tool will enable you to copy an entire course or parts of a course. Click here for illustrated instructions on using the Course Import Tool. In Canvas, course copying should be initiated in the course which lacks the materials you intend to copy-- the Course Import Tool will import or "pull" materials into the course where you launch it.  You can find this tool from the Course Setup Checklist (details about the Course Setup Checklist can be found here in the Canvas FAQ for Faculty) (LINK TO:  CANVAS FAQS FOR SWOSU FACULTY) and clicking on the "Import Content" option; or by clicking on the Settings button, and then on the screen that appears, clicking on the button at right marked "Import Content Into This Course." Then select "Copy content from another Canvas course," and follow the prompts Canvas will give you to transfer quizzes from your other Canvas courses into the course where you're working. Do not select "Import Quizzes" unless you have QTI files of your quizzes.

Another way to copy Canvas tests between courses is to create an export file package which can then be imported into a Canvas course. (This kind of file will end with .imscc) This would be a solution for sharing materials between instructors as an instructor can only copy directly between courses he or she is teaching.

[Back to top]
CDE-Twitter