Canvas Gradebook

Picture of books and a notebook and a pen.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

As the semester start date approaches we get more questions about grading and how different grading schemes can be configured in Canvas. Members of the Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry are always happy to schedule consultations to discuss this in more depth, however Canvas also provides several resources that faculty can review at their convenience as well. To get an overview of the gradebook in text form you can visit the article “What are Grades and the Gradebook”. In addition, Canvas has a great gradebook overview video that I’ve embedded below. Please note that although the title says that it is outdated – this functionality will be live until 2020. To view what options will be available in the new gradebook in 2020 please view the video at the bottom of this page.

2020 Gradebook

Kickstart Your Canvas Site!

Picture of a person kicking the air on a beach.
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

A very popular question this time of year is ‘How do I get started with Canvas?’ a close second (especially from faculty new to Middlebury) – ‘What do I need to put on my syllabus?’ When the Provost’s office shared information about the basic syllabus and expectations for faculty, we took this information and integrated it into our Canvas templates.

What does this mean?

Specifically, we added an “About this Course” page to our Middlebury 12 week Canvas templates that includes all of the text in the syllabus template. In addition, we added the sample syllabus template .doc file to the Canvas templates. This means that you can replace place holder text with specifics for your course, but the structure for your course content is already in place.

What’s included in the Canvas templates?

You can see what the Canvas template looks like by visiting these links: (log in with your Middlebury credentials to view)

Some of the components included in the template are:

Sounds great! How do I use it?

  1. First you’ll need to create your blank Canvas site through the course hub. Follow these instructions to complete this step. Note: Do not edit this site until you’ve completed step 2. Any edits completed before importing the template will be overwritten.
  2. Then follow these instructions to import the Canvas template into your course site. (Select the option to Import into Course when prompted.)

What did we miss?

Our hope is to continually improve these templates as we get feedback from faculty, students and staff about different ideas that would make course sites better for learning. So let us know! If you have an idea or suggestion to make these better please let us know by emailing dlinq@middlebury.edu. We look forward to hearing from you and hope this helps to kickstart your semester on the right foot!

Reusing Canvas Content

At this time of year a lot of faculty are working on creating course sites that reuse previous semester content. There is an easy way to do this using Canvas by following these instructions.

However the dates of assignments, discussions, start and end dates will all need to be updated. Good news! Canvas can help you with this too! Using the adjust events and due dates option you can:

  • Remove all due dates
  • Shift dates
  • Substitute days

Learn more about the details of this function here.

Assessing Participation

Picture of a classroom full of desk

old school by alamosbasement via flickr, cc licensed at https://flic.kr/p/6r26iv

Whenever I discuss grading or assessment with a teacher, participation ultimately comes up in some form. One part of the conversation usually focuses on the goal of assessing participation such as improving verbal explanatory and argumentative skills, and then turns to how that assessment is recorded in a learning management system. Although there is plenty to discuss in terms of the goals of assessing participation, this article will focus on the logistics of recording participation in an LMS and differing ways of configuring this in Canvas.

First, a few things to consider:

  1. Do you want students to see their participation grades as they progress through the course? Are you using this as a barometer that students can use to improve their participation?
  2. Is completion of assignments factored into a part of your participation grade?
  3. Is attendance factored into participation?

Sharing Participation Grades

If you want your students to see their progression in this area you will need to:

  1. Make sure that your gradebook is visible to students on the Canvas menu
  2. Design your gradebook so that a weekly participation grade is entered/calculated

Factoring Attendance into Participation

We suggest calculating a daily amount for attendance and manually awarding points based on the students’ attendance for the week. However, you will want to consider what you will do in the case that a student is absent due to a cause that is not under their control.

Factoring Assignment Completion into Participation

If these assignments are only assessed based on completion this can be set up in Canvas for assignments and discussions. However, if you are also assessing the content of the assignment/discussion forum post, you will need to consider an alternate assessment method that may involve dual scores if you want to be sure to break out the participation component.

Questions of Pedagogy

All of these considerations will provoke additional pedagogical questions. For example:

  • What role does attendance play in the learning process? Is it possible that that role is actually conveyed in another assessment tool that you are using?
  • Similarly, does assessing the completion of assignments demonstrate the achievement of a learning goal?
  • Are you providing multiple means of participation to ensure that you involve all your students?

Assessing participation on a weekly basis can be time consuming so you’ll want to ensure that this time is accomplishing your goals. In many cases there are alternate methods that will result in the same or a similar outcome.

Picture of baseballs with Ted Williams batting averages written on the balls

What’s a grade distribution graph?

Picture of baseballs with Ted Williams batting averages written on the balls

Ted Williams Batting Average Chart – National Baseball Hall of Fame by Dan Gaken via Flickr at https://flic.kr/p/nVoGTJ

Did you know that by default your students are able to view grade distribution graphs in Canvas? This feature allows students to see the high, low and mean scores for the class. However, faculty can disable this feature while still retaining the ability to view this information for themselves.

To disable this feature for students follow these instructions.