Flexibility Options in Canvas

In response to recent discussions about how to extend flexibility options to students in Canvas, I thought it would be helpful to provide to draft up an FAQ guide for instructors…

Q: Am I required to post a due date when adding an assignment?

A: No! Canvas provides a due date field, but it is not required to add a due date when posting an assessment. In fact, many faculty ignore the due date and availability fields altogether and leave them blank. One advantage to adding a due date is that it shows up in the student’s calendar view and to-do module. However, if you clearly communicate to your students the availability of the assessment and remind them of your expectations for completing the assessment frequently during class meetings, they will likely not need to rely on to-do notifications and calendar reminders to complete it. Learn more about due dates and availability dates here.

A screenshot of the Availability and Due Date settings in Canvas assessments
Canvas does not require a due date and assessment availability dates be added when posting an assignment or quiz.


Q: I want to give my students a few extra days to complete their final exam or final course project. Can I accept assessment submissions after the term has officially ended in Canvas?

A: Yes! See instructions on how to override default term dates in this article.


Q: How can I help my students focus more on their demonstration of their learning and not their grade(s) on assessment(s)?

A: We have 3 options. See below.

Option 1: Change how you display their graded submission. Consider a Complete/Incomplete display over the default Percentage/Points options. This way students are not so focused on their quantitative score (and as we heard, even the decimal point percentages being visible has caused some student anxiety).

A screenshot of the Display Grade As option in an assessment in Canvas
Consider selecting the Complete/Incomplete option in the Display Grade As dropdown as a way to help students focus more on your qualitative feedback once the assessment has been graded

Option 2: Hide the final Total grade column and grade distribution summaries in student grades so they are not able to constantly focus on that numerical Total Grade score and/or how they performed in comparison to their peers. When these settings are visible to students, they may become anxious and assume either of these factors is an indicator of what their overall grade in the course will be.

Option 3: Drop the lowest score in an assessment group.
Scenario: You give students one quiz/assignment a week but allow students to drop their lowest quiz/assignment grade (or skip 1 altogether).  Use Assignment Group Rules to drop the lowest grade of a group of quizzes/assignments.


Q: I have one student I would like to give flexibility to. How can I give them individual flexibility to complete an assessment?

A: Use the Assign To: section to assign an assessment item to an individual student(s) with differing due dates and/or availability windows. See further information in this article on how to assign to a specific student. If the assessment is a timed quiz, you can use the Moderate functionality to allow extra time and/or extra attempts. View this article on the Moderate Quiz page features.


Q: My students are nervous because their assignment has been marked as late in Canvas. How do I override this?

A: The WPI Canvas implementation does not enforce late submission policies at the course level. This is an instructor setting. If you want to modify your late policy settings, see this article on Late Submission Policies. Removing the due date from an assignment will prevent submissions from being marked as late so that students will not focus so much on what the implication for a late submission means when they need a little flexibility.


Q: I have suggestions for additional FAQs that I think you should add to this post. To whom should I direct those to?

A: Contact the ATC TTL team at atc-ttl@wpi.edu! We’d love to hear your suggestions. Want to chat with someone about Canvas? Sign up for a Coffee & Canvas session! We can’t provide the coffee but bring your drink of choice, your Canvas questions, and book a 30 minute chat on Zoom with a Canvas expert. 

Check out our growing on-demand and micro-training library as well where many of the suggestions above are actually covered in more depth.