Using the Assignments feature in Canvas

In Canvas, “assignment” is a catch-all word for anything to be graded by the instructor—whether or not any actual assigned work is collected. Participation, for instance, is an assignment as are quizzes and responses. With a little front-end work in the Assignments tab, grading student work becomes much easier in this learning management system (LMS).

To start, the Assignments tab can be found within the Courses tab on the left side of your Canvas course. Once you are in the Assignments page, click on the blue button that reads “+Assignment” on the top right to create a new assignment.

In addition to naming the assignment, providing the students with directions and expectations, and assigning a number of points, select an Assignment Group—which you will have to create for your course—when creating a new assignment. A major advantage of using Assignment Groups is that this feature automatically calculates weighted grading and has built-in options for Grading Rules, like dropping the lowest quiz grade.

Canvas also allows instructors to select whether an assignment is for a class, particular students, or different sections. You can also vary availability and submission dates for more than one section.

There are four submission types for Canvas’s Assignments:

  1. No submission (ie, nothing tangible is collected; eg, participation grades.)
  2. Online (for Assignments built in the Canvas LMS)
  3. On paper
  4. External Tool (for third party software programs, like Turnitin)

Depending on the submission type that is selected, Canvas allows instructors to be flexible and/or limit the file formats that can be submitted. This allows instructors to be creative with how they collect student work. For example, students to submit work performed “on paper” online by uploading a picture of their work.

Additional assignment options, including group assignments and peer reviews, can be explored in more detail on The Teaching Center’s Canvas Tools and Features page.



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