How to prevent common issues in assignments and grading

by | Mar 13, 2018 | Canvas updates, Marking and grading

With Semester 1 in full swing, it is important that your assignments are set up correctly from the start. You can prevent most of the common issues by checking the assignment set-up and the gradebook in your course.

1. Assignments are organised by weighted assignment groups

This will prevent: students’ grades not tallying up the way you expect at the end of the semester.

When you use assignment groups, Canvas calculates a percentage for each assignment group by dividing the total points earned by the total points possible across all assignments in that group. The group totals are then added up to make the final grade. If weighting has been applied to the groups, this is factored into the calculation. We recommend that you check your assignment and assignment group weightings at the start of the semester and again, before grading. The earlier students understand how their assignment grades impact their final grade the more likely they are to pay attention to the grades they are achieving in different assignments and perform better overall in the course.

How to apply weighting:

See How do I weight the final course grade based on assignment groups? on Canvas Community.

Can’t apply weighting to assignment groups?

Check that the option to “weight final grade based on assignment groups” is enabled.

Applying special rules such as dropping the highest or lowest scores?

See How do I create rules for an assignment group? on Canvas Community.

2. Assignments have been assigned to the correct course sections

This will prevent: students being marked in assignments that they shouldn’t be / students aren’t being marked in assignments that they should be.

If you’re wanting to assign an assignment to a cohort within your course rather than the whole course, you need to assign it to a course section. If this is not done correctly, it can result in issues such as students getting 0 due to non-submission, even if the assignment was not required of them. We recommend that you check who your assignments have been assigned to at the start of the semester and again, before grading.

How to assign assignments:

See How do I assign an assignment to a course section? on Canvas Community.

Is your course cross-listed?

There are some additional points to consider. See our guide Assign assignments in cross-listed courses in Course types and admin: Cross-listed courses.

3. Assignments have the correct due dates, available from and available to dates

This will prevent: students being unable/able to submit their online and Turnitin assignments before/after the due date.

The assignment due date is the indicative deadline when the assignment is due. Availability dates affect student submissions, in that they set the specific date range when students can submit the assignment. These dates are optional but they are useful for implementing if there are late submission policies for assignments – e.g. work submitted more than X days past the due date are not accepted. Note, Canvas allows resubmissions by default.

How to set the assignment due date and availability dates:

See What is the difference between assignment due dates and availability dates? on Canvas Community.

Using Turnitin assignments in your Canvas course?

As part of a Turnitin assignment, you must specify the settings that are allowed for student submissions, in addition to the Canvas assignment settings. Although Turnitin Start and Due dates are synched with Canvas, you will need to enable the “Allow late submissions” and select one of the “Similarity report” option (to allow/disallow resubmissions), if needed.

See How do I change Turnitin settings for an assignment? on Canvas Community

4. Assignments have been published

This will prevent: being unable to enter marks for an assignment in the gradebook.

In Canvas, an assignment is an assessment task that students need to complete and that you intend to grade. When you create and publish an assignment, a column where you can enter the grade for the assignment is automatically added to the gradebook.

How to publish an assignment:

See How do I use the Assignments Index Page? on Canvas Community.

Still can’t enter grades in the gradebook?

If so, make sure the assignments are assigned to the students.


5. Assignments are muted in the gradebook

This will prevent: students viewing their grades as you enter their marks in the gradebook or Speedgrader.

By default, in Canvas students can see assignment grades as soon as the assignment has been graded. To withhold student grades until all works have been graded for the assignment, and to release the grades to all the students at the same time, you can mute the assignment in the gradebook. A muted assignment will not send out grade change notifications. Students will also be unable to view any grade changes and submission comments until the assignment is unmuted.

How to mute an assignment:

See How do I mute or unmute an assignment in the Gradebook? on Canvas Community.

6. Check whether the “Treat ungraded as 0” feature is enabled in the gradebook

This will prevent: students seeing different (total) grades to what is shown in the gradebook.

The “Treat ungraded as 0” feature allows you to view student grades as if all ungraded (or unsubmitted and ungraded) assignments are given scores of zero points in the gradebook. This means the total grade is calculated by adding both graded and ungraded assignments. If enabled, this is a visual change and does not affect the actual grades. Only the user who enables the option will see the change. Students have the same feature.

How to enable “Treat ungraded as 0”:

See How do I treat ungraded assignments as zero in the Gradebook? on Canvas Community.