Grading Discussions in Canvas

You’ve set up and run your first graded discussion in Canvas – and the volume of posts seems a bit daunting. Now it’s time to assess the individual student contributions against the defined criteria, and get results out to them before the next discussion goes up.

Here are some tips for grading discussions, using tools in Canvas to assist with the task.

  • Discussions and Settings Gear ButtonsCanvas automatically marks posts as ‘read’ when you scroll down the page (changing the green dot left of the post to white). This function might interfere with keeping track of what you’ve read, and be a time waster if you have to backtrack through posts automatically marked as read that you didn’t actually read. You can choose to ‘Manually mark posts as read’ by navigating to the Discussions Index page and clicking on the gear pictured here.
  • On the discussion page you wish to grade, choose SpeedGrader in Options (grey box, three dots) which will sort individual student posts into one column, from that discussion only. If you want to pop back to the discussion to see a student’s replies in context, a link to view the full discussion is at the top of the summary. The video Canvas Speedgrader gives a brief overview of navigating through this tool.
  • If you created groups for a discussion, you can also access their discussion through their group’s home page menu, and proceed to SpeedGrader via Options (grey box, three dots)
  • Comments on the posts can be made in text, audio or video, all composed within SpeedGrader. Video comments might be especially appropriate if the students’ posts and replies were video responses. Once you have the knack of doing video comments, you may find them quicker to compose than typed text. Also, video comments are just one more way for you to ‘be present’ for students in remote delivery.
  • If you invested time in building a good rubric for discussions, the reward comes not just in alignment with learning outcomes and student understanding of requirements, but also in minimizing grading bias. In addition, the ranking you choose for each criterion should reduce the number of comments needed to communicate to students what they did well and where they can improve.

Using Your Rubric in SpeedGrader:

Speedgrader and Rubric Example

  • View the rubric in Speedgrader alongside an individual student’s posts and use it to calculate the grade by clicking on the rankings, shown above at [1]. The Canvas guide for using rubrics in SpeedGrader walks you through the process.
  • Override rating numbers by entering a number manually in the Points (Pts) box [2]. If you find yourself overriding the rating number consistently, think about adjusting the ratings to a number range for the next discussion, or adding a rating level or two, to your criteria.
  • You can enter text comments for any criterion in the rubric by clicking on the comment icon. [3] Additional comments (text, audio or video) are entered below the rubric.
  • Rubrics in Canvas can be used for multiple discussions; however, if you want to make modifications to a rubric each time, you need to make a copy and edit that copy while setting up a new discussion.
  • To mitigate your marking load and invite students into a self-assessment and reflective process, consider developing a self-assessment rubric for students and sharing it with them early in the course. An Assignment for submission of the rubric can be created and their self-assessment grade reviewed and then entered into the Gradebook by you or a TA.