Canvas @ YaleInstructor Guides AssignmentsBuilding Assessments in Canvas

Building Assessments in Canvas

Before you begin

In Canvas there are many different ways to assess your students.  Below are some suggestions for options for setting up assessments using tools available from within Canvas.  There is no one way nor a right or wrong way - you will need to figure out what works best for you, for what skills and knowledge you are assessing and for the students in your course.  

Recommendation:  If you don't already have one, request a Canvas Sandbox site.  Your Canvas Sandbox site can be used to try out various Canvas tools and integrations before you decide which to implement.  Anything  you create in your Sandbox site can be imported into your official Canvas course site.

1. Preparing your assessment

Preparing for your exam means more than just writing out the questions that will be included in your assessment.  Framing your assessment and considering the landscape of your students will help you easily navigate what types of assessments are best suited to your course and your students.  

Remember:

  • Be patient - especially if you are trying a new type of assessment.  There could be a learning curve for both you and your students - but the outcome will be rewarding.
  • Be flexible - some students may have internet/bandwidth or other issues that may require you to provide an alternative assessment method.
  • Remote students may be in different time zones - although you should try your best to stay within the confines of your regularly scheduled class meeting times, for students with time zone differences greater than 5 hours you may want to consider offering alternative times for them to take restricted date quizzes.
  • Talk to your students - students may not always feel comfortable communicating their needs - check in with students and make sure that they are okay with the parameters of your assessment and adjust accordingly.
  • Have a back-up plan - Life happens and it is always important to be ready for those cases when a student loses their internet connection or has a family emergency that prevents them from taking the assessment at the scheduled time.  Being prepared for unforeseen circumstances will ensure that you are able to quickly adapt to the changing needs of your students.
2. What type of assessment should I create?

Start by thinking about the following:

  • What are your goals for this assessment?
  • What knowledge and/or skills are you assessing?
  • What types of questions / activities will help you assess your students?

There are many types of assessments and many tools you could use to create your assessment.  Most assessments can be configured to work with the Canvas Quizzes or Canvas Assignments tools.  Below is a chart showing guidelines for when you might choose a to use a Canvas Assignment versus a Canvas Quiz.  

Canvas Assignment Canvas Quiz

Submission Details

  • Student will upload and submit just a file
  • Student will be completing primarily handwritten work
  • Student will submit multiple versions (draft and final versions)

Configuration Details

  • Timer is not required
  • Turnitin will be used to analyze citations

Grading

  • Instructor will include inline feedback comments and annotations on a submitted file
  • All submissions require instructor input - no auto-scored question types (multiple choice)
  • Peer Review options

Common Assessment Types

  • Essays/Papers
  • Submitting a URL (for a blog or other online work)
  • Video/Audio/Media Recording (can be done through assignment or uploaded to assignment)
  • Presentation files
  • Research articles, bibliography/citations


Submission Details

  • Student will answer multiple questions of differing types
  • Student submissions are combination of online submission and minimal handwritten work
  • Student will submit once

Configuration Details

  • Timer is required
  • Respondus LockDown Browser required to prevent web searches and using other software programs

Grading

  • Contains auto-score question types (multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, etc...)


Common Assessment Types

  • Practice Quizzes / Surveys
  • Assessments with auto-scored question types 
  • Knowledge retention assessments
  • Assessments with multiple short answer questions on varying topics
  • Assessments that are used year after year and need to prevent questions from being copied and shared after exam.
3. Timing of your Exam

All Canvas Assignments and Canvas Quizzes allow instructors to set 3 dates for each activity. These dates are

Due Date / Available Date / Until Date

Canvas Assignments and Quizzes allow instructors to set 3 different dates for each activity:

  1. Due Date - Date and time when you want students to submit the activity.  Submissions can be submitted after this date, but will be marked as late both to the student when they submit and to the instructor in the Grades/SpeedGrader.
  2. Available Date - Date and time when the activity will become open for students to view and completed the activity. If a student clicks on the assignment prior to this date, they will see a message indicating that the activity is currently locked and will open on the Available Date.
  3. Until Date - Date and time after which students can no longer submit the activity.**  Students who click on the assignment after the due date will see a message saying that the activity was locked on the Until Date.  If a student is in a Quiz when the until date passes, their Quiz will auto-submit at the Until Date/Time.

** Reminder:  The Until Date set within a Quiz's settings will OVERRIDE a Quiz Time Limit.  If a quiz has a 1 hour Time Limit and a student opens the quiz 5 minutes before the Until Date/Time, the student will only get 5 minutes to complete the Quiz.

Recommendations:  

  • Some remote students may have reduced internet/bandwidth.  Consider adding buffer timing on your assessment dates to allow for unforeseen issues.
  • Some remote students may be in different time zones.  For most students, maintaining the usual class time is ideal to avoid conflicts with other course work - but definitely talk to your students and consider setting up alternative assessment dates and times.

Quiz Timers

Canvas Quizzes allow instructors to set a time limit on their assessment.  Quiz timers will do the following:

  • The timer will not begin until the student sees the first question on the Quiz.
    • If using Respondus LockDown Browser, the timer will not start until the student has successfully loaded the quiz in the LockDown Browser and sees the first question on the Quiz.
  • When the timer runs out, the Quiz is auto-submitted to Canvas - whether the student is ready or not.
  • If a student closes the Quiz window, the timer will continue to count down.

Reminder:  The Until Date set within a Quiz's settings will OVERRIDE a Quiz Time Limit.  If a quiz has a 1 hour Time Limit and a student opens the quiz 5 minutes before the Until Date/Time, the student will only get 5 minutes to complete the Quiz.

4. Technology Concerns

With remote students, it is important to remember that students will be working on their private internet connections.  Make sure that for your assessment you take into account that students who have limited internet/bandwidth may not be able to participate real-time with bandwidth-heavy interactions (videos, large downloads, etc...).  The students might also be impacted if your assessment includes a timer.  Consider padding your due dates timed assessments to allow for students encountering technical difficulties.

5. Best Practices Checklist

General Best Practices for Preparing and Implementing Assessments Through Canvas

  • If you do not have one, request a Canvas Sandbox site.
  • Use your Canvas Sandbox site to try different types of assessments and activity types.
  • Build and test out your assessments in your Canvas Sandbox site - you can import the final version into your official course.
  • Use the Student View feature to take your assessments and see exactly what your students will see.
  • Try new tools and create different types of assessments.
  • Store files/images used in your graded quizzes and assignments in the Hidden Files folder in your course site's Files area.
  • Set up low-stakes assessments using your preferred Canvas tools so both you and your students can try it out before an official exam.
  • Communicate with your students frequently to let them know how you are assessing them and what tools you will be using.
  • Schedule time-restricted assessments to occur during your regularly scheduled class time - talk to remote students about concerns they may have if they are in a vastly different time zone.
  • Have questions?  Contact askpoorvucenter@yale.edu.
6. Common Assessment "Gotchas"

Instructor "Gotchas"

Files:

  • Files/images stored in the files area are by default visible to students when they go to the Files button in your course.  Use the Hidden Files Folder to store protected files that you do not want students to access early.
  • Canvas does not prevent downloading of files - if you want to prevent students from downloading your file, you can store the file in Box, EliApps (Google) Drive, or OneDrive (with download permissions turned off) and link to that file in your quiz/assignment.

Quizzes:

  • Until Dates / Quiz Timers - Until date will trump the students’ timer.  
  • Until Dates are not timers - Quiz timers (as set in the settings of the individual quiz) should be used for this and can be moderated accordingly.
  • File Upload Questions cannot be done with LockDown Browser
  • File Upload file submissions cannot be graded in SpeedGrader
  • Randomizing questions is done through Question Groups
  • All questions in the question group must be worth the same # of points

Assignments:

  • You cannot give an individual student additional attempts beyond the maximum number attempts set in the setting of an assignment - to accommodate a second attempt, you would need to create a duplicate copy of the assignment and assign the duplicate to just that student.
  • SpeedGrader annotations can be anonymous to your students, but comments in the Assignments Comment box cannot.
  • SpeedGrader annotations can only be used on Assignment file upload submissions with compatible file types.
  • Assignments with Turnitin enabled:
    • Must have a due date that is set when the assignment is first created - this is when your students’ submissions will be compared against each other in Turnitin.  If you do not set it immediately upon creation, the Turnitin compare date will be 2 weeks from the date you first created the assignment
    • If you are doing “draft” versions of a submission - do not store the draft versions in the institutional repository or else you could get false positives on the final draft.

Grade Posting Policy:

  • Automatic Grade Posting Policy will allow students to see their grade as soon as you enter it - Manual Grade Posting Policy allows the instructor to complete grading and then release grades all at once.
  • If you change the Grade Posting Policy after you have entered some student grades, the grades that you already entered will still honor the Grade Posting Policy that was present at the time the grade was entered.

 

Students "Gotchas"

Assignments:

  • Annotation feedback on Assignments is viewable by going to the Grades area, clicking on the Assignment and then clicking the View Feedback link.
  • Whenever submitting files for grading, keep file names simple and avoid including your name - instructors may incorporate blind grading which does not mask the file name.

Quizzes:

  • If not using LockDown Browser, you can close your quiz/browser and resume the quiz at any time before the quiz expires.
  • If you have not done so manually, your quiz attempt will auto submit when your timer expires or the quiz closes (on the "until" date/time) - whichever comes first.
  • If your quiz has both a timer and an until (close) date/time, the until (close) date/time will override your timer.  Make sure that you open and begin your quiz with ample time before the until date/time so you will get the full amount of time on your timer.
  • You can use the quiz navigation to jump to questions and flag questions

Grade Posting Policy

How do I control when students will see their grades in Canvas?

Canvas uses the Grade Posting Policy to control whether students see their scores immediately when entered (automatic) or whether instructors will need to manually post/release the grades (manual).  You can refer to our help article on How to use the Grade Posting Policy for full details - the links below will open the article to the specific topic listed:

  1. How to set a Gradebook Level Grade Posting Policy
  2. How to set an Assignment Level Grade Posting Policy
    1. Posting and Hiding Grades

Quizzes

1. Creating and setting up a Canvas Quiz

1.1. How do I create a basic Quiz?
1.3. What are the available options/settings for a Quiz?

One of the options available for Quizzes is to set a Time Limit which restricts students to have only a set amount of time to complete the Quiz.  The timer will begin the moment the student opens the quiz and will auto-submit when the timer runs out.  

WARNING:  The Quiz's Until Date set within the Quiz's settings will OVERRIDE a Quiz timer.  If a quiz has a 1 hour timer and a student opens the quiz 5 minutes before the Until Date/Time, the student will only get 5 minutes to complete the Quiz.

1.4. What question types are available for a Quiz?
1.4.1. Multiple Choice
1.4.2. True/False
1.4.3. Fill-in-the-Blank
1.4.4. Fill-in-Multiple-Blanks
1.4.5. Multiple Answers
1.4.6. Multiple Drop-down (can be used for Likert scale)
1.4.6.1. Likert Scale
1.4.7. Matching
1.4.8. Numerical Answer
1.4.9. Formula
1.4.9.1. Simple Formula
1.4.9.2. Single Variable
1.4.10. Essay
1.4.11. File Upload
1.4.12. Text (no question)

 
Typically a Text (no question) question is used to break up the exam questions into parts or to provide information for a series of questions.  

1.6. In my Quiz question, how do I add math equations?

2. Advanced Quiz Features

Question Banks
2.1. What is a Question Bank?

A Question bank is a repository that stores questions that you can use and reuse on multiple Quizzes.  Question banks can simplify the process of creating copies of quizzes, help create varied tests by randomly pulling questions from a bank, and to randomize the order of questions on a Quiz.

Even if you did not specifically create a Question Bank, all of the questions from your Canvas quizzes are by default stored in an Unfiled Questions Question Bank.  You can copy and/or move your Quiz questions to other Question Banks if desired.

2.2. How do I create a Question Bank?
2.3. How do I create a question in a Question Bank?
2.4. How do I move a question to a different Question Bank?
LockDown Browser for secured exams

Recommendation:  If you are including a File Upload type question in your Canvas Quiz, do NOT use LockDown Browser.

2.1. How to enable LockDown Browser in your course
2.2. How to enable LockDown Browser for a Canvas Quiz

Recommendation:  Create a practice LockDown Browser quiz for students to complete a few days before your actual assessment.  This will give students time to download/install the browser and troubleshoot issues before hand.

3. Quiz Scheduling and Student Accommodations

3.1. How do I set different due dates/times for individual students?

Reminder:  Due dates you set with be in Eastern Time (ET).  If you have remote students in other time zones, they can modify their personal time zone settings in Canvas so that due dates appear in their local time.  When setting a different schedule for a student(s), make sure that you check with them to ensure that the date/time you select does not conflict with other course work or obligations.

3.2. How do I provide extra time for a student?

Reminder:  The Until Date set within a Quiz's settings will OVERRIDE a Quiz Time Limit.  If a quiz has a 1 hour Time Limit and you provide a student with 30 extra minutes - if the student opens the quiz 5 minutes before the Until Date/Time, the student will only get 5 minutes to complete the Quiz.  

3.3. How do I provide an extra attempt for a student?

4. Viewing student Quiz results

4.1. How to view student results in a quiz
4.2. Kinds of quiz statistics available and how to view them

5. Grading Canvas Quizzes

Grading Quizzes through SpeedGrader

5.1. How to get to SpeedGrader
5.2. How to grade quiz questions in SpeedGrader
5.3. How to grade one question at a time
5.5. How to leave feedback comments for a submission

Regrading Auto-Scored Questions

5.1. Regrading Options
5.2. Regrade Multiple Choice Questions
5.3. Regrade True/False Questions
5.4. Regrade Multiple Answer Questions

Assignments

1. Creating and setting up Canvas Assignments

1.1. How do I create a basic file upload assignment

2. Advanced Assignment Features

3. Assignment Scheduling and Student Accommodations

3.1. How do I set different due dates/times for individual students?

Reminder:  Due dates you set with be in Eastern Time (ET).  If you have remote students in other time zones, they can modify their personal time zone settings in Canvas so that due dates appear in their local time.  When setting a different schedule for a student(s), make sure that you check with them to ensure that the date/time you select does not conflict with other course work or obligations.

3.2. How do I provide an extra attempt for a student?

Students are able to submit and resubmit as many times as they want up until the Assignment's Until Date.  For this reason, you should not have to add an extra attempt for a student.  If a student was unable to submit their file before the Until Date, you can use the information on How do I set different due dates/time for individual students to set up an extension for the student.

4. Viewing student Assignment submissions

4.1. How to download all student submissions for an assignment
4.2. How to re-upload all student submissions for an assignment

Reminder:  If you want to re-upload versions of student submissions with your comments, you will need to make sure that the file names of your graded versions EXACTLY match the file names of the originally download versions.  The file name is how Canvas knows which files should be distributed to which student.

5. Grading Canvas Assignments

5.1. How to get to SpeedGrader
5.3. How to enter/edit grades in SpeedGrader
5.4. How to enter grades directly into the Grades area