Canvas @ YaleInstructor Guides Instructional ToolsCanvas Assignment Tool: Overview

Canvas Assignment Tool: Overview

The Canvas Assignments tool is one of several native Canvas tools that allows instructors to collect student work for grading. Through the Canvas Assignment tool, students can submit their completed work and instructors can easily collect and score the work either offline (by downloading all submissions with a single button click) or online through the Canvas SpeedGrader function. Canvas Assignments can also be used to create columns in the gradebook for grading student work that is not submitted online.

Several of the External Applications integrated into Canvas work in coordination with the Canvas Assignments tool. For these tools, you will still create the Canvas Assignment as normal, but you will need to follow the detailed instructions for the specific external application to properly link it to the Canvas Assignment. Visit our Instructional Tools support page and click on the appropriate tool for details.  

Why use Canvas Assignments?

For Students

Canvas Assignments are a great centralized location to find and submit their coursework.  It can provide students with detailed instructions for each assignment, due dates, template files for students to use when applicable, and rubrics to help students understand what is expected to achieve full credit for their work. Canvas' online grading via the SpeedGrader tool is a core feature of the Canvas Assignment tool, which allows students to quickly receive and reply to instructor comments on their work. Canvas Assignments also work hand-in-hand with the Canvas Grades area, so students can quickly see how well they did on each assignment and how they are doing overall in the course in one place.

For Instructors

Canvas Assignments streamlines the way that student work is collected. Instead of receiving digitally completed homework in the form of individual emails from each student for each assignment, instructors can create a Canvas Assignment to collect the work of all students. With Canvas' online grading tools, instructors can use rubrics for consistent grading and can use the Canvas SpeedGrader tool to provide detailed annotations on student-submitted files or simply use the one button download all submissions button to export all student files at once to their local computer. The Canvas Assignments tool also allows instructors the flexibility to assign activities to specific due dates for individual students or even create activities that are only available to certain students.

Use Cases for Assignments

Canvas Assignments can be used in many ways—below are just a few examples of how assignments can be used in your course:

  • Homework Assignments
  • Research Papers
  • Written Exams
  • Handwritten Student Work (check out our help article for students on how to create a PDF of handwritten work)
  • Custom Grade Columns – you can create a no-submission assignment to create a column in the Grades area for posting grades. Common examples of a custom grade column:
    • Overall grade for course (that differs from the Canvas-calculated Totals column)
    • Grade for an oral exam or other activity that does not require students to hand in work
    • Class participation grade
  • Peer Review Assignments – students can be assigned to read and comment on one or more of their classmates' submissions
  • Group Assignments – require one submission for a group of students

How do I use Canvas Assignments in my course?

What will my students see?

The actual view your students see will depend on the settings you set on your assignments. Below you can see what a student would see for an online, file upload submission type assignment.  

Student Clicking on an Assignment that has not Opened Yet

On each assignment, instructors can set an "Available From" date, which is the date when the assignment will open for students to start submitting their work. Even though an assignment may not yet be open, students will be able to see that there is an assignment and will be able to click on it.  

When a student views an assignment that has not opened for submissions yet, they will see a message showing that the assignment is locked and the date when the assignment will open, which is the "Available From" date.

Student Submitting an Online, File Submission Assignment

When going to submit a file, the students will see the assignment instructions, points, due / available from / until dates, and the rubric (if one exists). The students will submit by clicking the "Submit Assignment" button and following the process to upload and submit their file(s).

For more help, please contact canvas@yale.edu.