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Online assistance for Canvas and Learning Tools from Wharton Computing

All About Assignments


Assignments are a key part of Canvas. To give you a sense of what you can do with assignments, below we describe what happens when you create a basic assignment, and then we describe a "super" assignment that leverages more Canvas features.

Common issues

Basic Assignment Life Cycle

  1. Create the assignment with a due date.
  2. If your course has been published, Canvas will generate notifications about the new assignment according to your students' notification preferences.
  3. In addition to showing up in Assignments, the assignment will appear in the Syllabus and the Course Calendar. You may use Student View to see this from a student perspective.
  4. When the due date is one week away, the assignment will appear on the students’ dashboard and in the "Upcoming Assignments" sidebar in "Assignments."
  5. When the due date has passed, the assignment will appear in "Past Assignments."

Optional Features (submission, plagiarism checking, grading, review, and feedback)

Feel free to combine any of these options to suit your needs.

  • Each assignment can be one of several types: a regular assignment, a graded discussion, a quiz, or an external tool. It can also be ungraded. Anything but a "Not Graded" assignment will also create a corresponding column in the Gradebook.
  • Availability dates: If you need to hide details of the assignment until it's time to reveal them, set an "Available From" date. If you don't want to accept late submissions, set an "Until" date.
  • Using the Rich Content Editor, you can add formatted text, links to outside web resources and files you uploaded to Canvas, images, embedded video, and equations.
  • You can set the possible points a student can earn, either from the Assignments Index page or by editing the assignment settings.
  • You can place the assignment in an assignment group, which provides more structure for the students. Filling in non-zero possible points and using assignment groups, together, will allow you to compute a weighted total grade (for Wharton courses, this is not shown to students).
  • You can grade by point, percentage, complete/incomplete, GPA scale, or letter grade. Currently in Canvas, letter grades are derived from percentages utilizing Grading Schemes and cannot be shown to students separately from a numeric score.  We don't recommend applying a scheme to the Total grade.
  • If you allow online submissions, there are several formats available: text entry (where students can enter responses into the assignment itself), URLs, media recordings (where students can use Canvas to launch a voice or video recording), and file uploads.
  • When you allow file uploads, you can restrict the types of files they can upload.
  • You can run plagiarism checks by enabling Turnitin. To enable Turnitin LTI assignments, use the External Tool assignment type.
  • In a group assignment, any member of a predefined group can submit the assignment on behalf of the group. However, you can decide to assign grades individually if you prefer (by default, group assignments grades are automatically shared among group members).
  • You can require peer reviews (best at this time for individual assignments, rather than group assignments.)
  • You can provide online feedback in a number of formats.
  • You can set either a single due date or take advantage of differentiated assignments to customize the due dates for each section. 
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