Canvas Gradebook Policies and Customization

This guide goes over setting policies, changing views, and sorting and filtering in the Canvas gradebook. Before reading this guide, please review our introductory Canvas Gradebook Guide to set up your gradebook and get familiar with how to use it.

Missing, Late, and Posting Policies

In your Canvas gradebook:

  • You can set a Missing Policy to automatically assign scores to missing submissions (not submitted after the due date has passed).
  • You can set a Late Policy to deduct points from late submissions (submitted after the due date has passed).
  • You can change your Posting Policy for the gradebook or for individual assignments to choose when grades and comments you enter are released to students.

By default, the gradebook has an Automatic Posting Policy. This means that scores and comments become visible to students as soon as you enter them. But sometimes you may want to finish all your grading first and then release it to students all at once. To do this, you'll need to set a Manual Posting Policy for either your whole gradebook or a specific assignment. This will ensure that scores and comments remain hidden until you choose to post them (this is equivalent to the feature formerly known as "muting").

The following video tutorial explains how to use Missing, Late, and Posting Policies:


5 Key Concepts to Understand when Setting Posting Policies

  1. Automatic Posting Policy = immediate release of scores and comments.
    Your gradebook is set to an Automatic Posting Policy by default. This means that scores and comments are released to students as soon as you enter them. This includes inline annotations and comments made in Speedgrader, general comments, and numerical scores—anything you enter for a student will be immediately visible to them.
  2. Manual Posting Policy = you choose when to release scores and comments.
    You can change either your whole gradebook or individual assignments to have a Manual Posting Policy. This means that scores and comments are hidden from students until you post them. Assignments with a Manual Posting Policy will say "MANUAL" in bold under their titles.
  3. Find the "Post Grades" button in an individual assignment's menu.
    If you're using a Manual Posting Policy: find the Post Grades button by placing your mouse next to an assignment's title at the top of its gradebook column, then clicking the vertical ellipses button. The menu that appears will include the Post Grades and Hide Grades buttons. They will be greyed out until there are grades to post or hide. A slashed-eye icon next to an assignment's title means it has at least one hidden grade that can be posted.
  4. Posting for "Everyone" releases current scores for an assignment and any scores entered afterward, while posting for "Graded" only releases scores entered at the time of posting.
    When you click an assignment's Post Grades button, you'll be asked whether to post grades for "Everyone" or "Graded." To understand this distinction, imagine there's a trapdoor holding scores back beneath each of the assignment's cells in your gradebook grid.
    • Posting for "Everyone" opens all the trapdoors, even for students for whom you haven't yet entered scores. For example: if you post for "Everyone" to release the scores you've entered for five students, when you enter a score for the sixth student, it will fall through the open trapdoor and be immediately released (as if the assignment now had an Automatic policy).
    • Posting for "Graded" opens only the trapdoors beneath the scores you've already entered. For example: if you post for "Graded" to release the scores you've entered for five students, when you enter a score for the sixth student, their trapdoor remains closed, so their score will be hidden until you choose to click Post Grades again. This option usually makes the most sense.
    • How do I know who I'm posting for?: When you click Post Grades, students with hidden scores to be released will be indicated with a red dot.
    • What if I posted by mistake?: You can use the "Hide Grades" button (below the "Post Grades" button) to hide all grades that have been automatically or manually posted for an assignment.
  5. You can use the Post Grades button for an assignment even if you've only entered general comments.
    You can use the Post Grades button to release feedback to students even if you've only entered general comments for their submissions, and not numerical scores.

    You will not be able to manually post feedback if you've only entered inline annotations and comments on a file submission in Speedgrader. You must enter either general comments or a score (using the boxes in Speedgrader's righthand panel) before the Post Grades button will become available. If you wish to make only inline annotations visible, you will need to set your assignment to an Automatic Posting Policy, which reveals everything as soon as it's entered.

Canvas has created a flowchart to help you decide which Posting Policy to use in different situations.

To learn about Posting Policies in even more detail, see this Canvas guide:

How do I use posting policies in a course?


Customizing Your Gradebook

The following video tutorial shows you how to switch between the gradebook's grid view and individual student view, sort and filter assignments, and interpret the grid's color coding:

Some highlights:

  • Use the "Gradebook" menu to toggle between grid view, individual view (for individual assignments and/or students), and history view (to see a more detailed table of scores, including graders).
  • Use the "View" menu to sort and filter your Gradebook columns, change the color-coding of submission statuses, and turn the Notes column and columns for unpublished assignments on or off.
  • Use the "Actions" menu to import a CSV file of a Gradebook from another course or export this course's Gradebook as a CSV file which you can open in Microsoft Excel.
  • You can drag-and-drop Gradebook columns into whatever order you'd like. You can also make columns wider by clicking on the borders between column headers and dragging them left or right. This is useful if a column's title is cut-off.
  • Remember, the Gradebook grid is only visible to you (the teacher)! Students can never see each other's grades. When a student clicks Grades in the lefthand course menu, they'll instead see a list of their personal scores with links to their feedback. So you can customize to your heart's content without worrying about what students will see. 

If you'd like a more in-depth look at how to customize your Gradebook, see this Canvas guide:

How Do I Use the Gradebook?


Gradebook FAQ

A: In Speedgrader, you can switch between students' submissions using the name dropdown menu at top right. Here's the iconography: no icon means the student hasn't submitted, an orange dot means they have submitted and you haven't graded it yet, and a green check means you've submitted a grade for that student.

A: Yes! Click the vertical ellipses icon (three dots) at top right of a discussion topic to see the Speedgrader link. Speedgrader will show you all of each student's posts to the discussion and let you score them. However, you'll have to return to the full discussion to reply publicly. A good strategy is to keep the full discussion and Speedgrader open in separate browser tabs, so you can quickly go back and forth between replying and giving scores.

A: Yes! In the gradebook grid, you can manually enter scores by clicking into the cell that corresponds with any particular student and assignment, entering a score, then pressing enter/return on your keyboard. If you click the little arrow that appears in the cell while hovering your mouse over it, you will open a panel in which you can enter general comments.

A: The gradebook displays columns for your Assignment Groups at the far right side of the grid. Since Canvas automatically generates the overall scores for Assignment Groups based on the assignments within that group, you cannot manually edit scores in these columns. For example: say you have an individual assignment called "Participation," and also an Assignment Group called "Participation." You'll be able to edit the score in the assignment's column, but not in the group's column. This is usually what's going on if you see "duplicate columns." If you're using weighted Assignment Groups, you can tell if a column is for a group because it will show its percentage weight along with its title.

A: Yes! You can use Canvas to add interactive rubrics to your assignments, which you can then use to score their submissions. This Canvas guide explains that process in detail: How do I add a rubric to an assignment?

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