Canvas Grading – Set yourself up for success!

Filed in best practices, Canvas, gradebook by on October 8, 2021

It’s grading season again! I wanted to offer a new look at Canvas Gradebook and some tips and tricks to help ease the grading process. Canvas is NOT the official grading record at WPI (you’ll still need to manually enter final grades into Workday – here’s some tips for that) but if you’re using Canvas to grade students for their work, it can help reduce student stress & anxiety to make sure the grades they are seeing are correct.

  1. Enable Manual Grading Policy – by default, Grades in Canvas are released automatically. We recommend enabling the Manual Grading Policy before you begin grading an assignment to allow for review and modifications BEFORE students see their grade. You can enable the policy course-wide or by individual assignment.
  2. Add Gradebook columns for “in class” assignments and quizzes – if you offer assignments that will be turned in outside of Canvas create new “On Paper” gradebook columns to record their grades in Canvas. This can also be applied to paper quizzes offered in class. Assignments can be as simple as a name and point value, or can include detailed submission instructions. This is a good overview video for the different types of assignments possible in Canvas.
  3. All assignments *MUST* eventually have a grade – after an assignment due date has passed, instructors must tell Canvas to grant students a grade of 0. Grades will not be properly calculated in Canvas unless an assignment has a grade. If there is a “-” (dash) in the gradebook, this will eventually need to be given a “0” or some kind of grade. Set Default Grade is an easy way to accomplish this at the end of the term. Please note: You can always overwrite this grade if the student submits the assignment.
  4. All assignments that count must have a point value – you must enter a point value for every graded assignment to enable Canvas to properly calculate the total points possible in class. Giving an assignment a point value of “0” creates an extra credit assignment.
  5. Extra Credit assignments should have points possible of “0” – this will allow Canvas to properly calculate the total points possible in your class. How do I do this?
  6. Hide the Final Grade column until the end of the term – By default, final grade totals are visible to students in Canvas. If you prefer to release final grades at a specific date, you can hide the final grade column until you’re ready to release it.
  7. If your class uses Weighted Grades, Canvas supports this – Weighted Grading is set up in the Assignments area, see how to do this in this documentation.
  8. To assign Letter Grades, enable a custom grading scheme, use one of the WPI grading schemes we have available, or create one of your own.

Common Mistakes in Canvas Gradebook

  • Creating a “No Submission” assignment does not add a drop box, and students are not able to submit assignment online.
  • Not adding in the total points possible – this makes Canvas treat the assignment as extra credit.
  • Not inputting “0” grade to missing assignments results in students seeing a better grade than they will actually receive at the end of the term.

Some Recommendations

  • Periodically download a copy of the Gradebook to CSV format to your computer and compare to the grades.
  • For a large class, use the “Filter” option in Gradebook to filter by section, this will also help when entering grades in Workday.
  • Read this FAQ for providing flexibility to your students when grading.
  • Use Canvas’ documentation which is continually updated with the latest instructions for Gradebook.

As always, feel free to reach out to the ATC-TTL team anytime with questions or to schedule a consultation at 

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