There are some common issues that faculty experience when grading in Canvas. There are a few techniques that will help you avoid these pitfalls!

“Mute” Your Assignments Before You Grade (aka, Grade Posting Policies)
Until recently, the Canvas Gradebook had a feature called “muting an assignment” that allowed the instructor to make grades for a particular assignment invisible to all students until they were manually released. This was an option to ensure students all received their grades at the same time.

In 2020, Canvas did away with “muting” and added a feature called “set a grade posting policy”. You can set a grade posting policy for an entire course, or for a single assignment. If you want to suppress students’ grades until you are finished grading all submissions for that assignment, choose “manual”. You will need to post the grades when you are done. If you want grades to post for individual students as soon as you enter them, choose “automatic”.

Note: Don’t forget to unmute any assignments that are graded manually (which applies to all assignments if you set a course-wide manual grade posting policy). Students view of their final grade will not include muted assignments, so they may be seeing a different final grade for the class than you do.
Enter Zeroes for Missed Work
We often feel bad giving zeros to students who do not turn in work. Not entering a zero will appear as a ‘-‘ dash in the Gradebook and result in an inflated grade, because the Gradebook calculation will simply ignore the whole assignment. This means that the student’s view of their final grade will not be negatively affected and therefore the student will be under the wrong impression for how well they are doing in the class.

Students, when asked, prefer to be given a zero on missed work, as it keeps them from forming a false sense of security. If the instructor does not enter zeros for missed work, it can lead to a real discrepancy between how the instructor thinks the student is doing in the course and how the student views their own performance. You can set Canvas to automatically enter zeroes for missing work in certain cases (for example, after a certain date).

When you enter a zero for missed work, consider using the “Message Students Who” feature in the Canvas Gradebook (described below) to notify those students about the course’s late work policy and what they can do to improve their grade. We recommend actively helping students develop a strategy for digging themselves out of any holes in their learning or in their grade.
Message Students Who
One helpful feature built into the Canvas Gradebook is the ability to quickly message students who meet a certain criterion, like not turning in an assignment, receiving a low score, and so on.

These direct messages also notify students via their school email accounts so they are often quickly noticed. Use these messages to remind students early in the semester and follow up with students of concern.

Here is a video demonstrating how to use the “Message students who” feature:
Feedback and Comments
It is easy for students to not see comments from their instructor. If you are going to invest the time into writing good feedback, then you want your students to read and incorporate this feedback into their learning.

Tell students explicitly how you are giving them feedback and how they can find it. You can even submit an assignment as a “Test Student” and then grade it yourself. You can then project the test student’s view of their grades and comments in class on the projector.

Send students instructions for viewing the comments:
How to view comments from an instructor
How to view rubric results from an instructor
How to view annotation feedback on papers

It can be very easy to miss replies students make to instructor comments. Learn how to quickly view all assignment conversations in Canvas.
Points vs. Percentages
If you choose to set an assignment worth a certain number of points other than 100, then be extra careful when entering a score.

Depending on your settings and the screen, you will need to enter the grade as a percentage (0-100) or as the number of points. If the assignments is worth 10 points and you accidentally award 90 points (thinking they got 90%), then you just gave the student 900% on that assignment!
Ensure RollCall Affects Grades Accurately
The built-in RollCall attendance tool is set to give class attendance (as recorded in RollCall) a 100-point value. You will likely need to adjust this, as it can throw off grading dramatically. You can increase or decrease the impact of RollCall by adjusting the point value or assignment group. If you do not use the RollCall tool, you can remove the Attendance assignment from your Gradebook. Learn more from Canvas’s instructions for managing RollCall.

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