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Groups and teams in Canvas


Group information is found on the People page. Canvas allows students to sign themselves up in "self sign-up" groups, or you can manually assign students yourself.  

Best Practices:

  • All students should be placed into groups before they begin submitting to group assignments -- even if a student will complete a group assignment as an individual. The online grading and feedback tools work best when all students are in groups.
  • Once groups have been created in Canvas, each group gets its own sub-site with file storage.  It then sometimes becomes tempting to tell student groups to put finished assignments in that location. We strongly recommend against this practice. It is confusing for students, since they don't usually turn assignments in that way, and it also makes grading much more difficult. Canvas provides a feature for collecting group assignment submissions which is much more convenient for the teaching team (and works the way students submit).
  • Self sign-up is either on or off, and there's no way to schedule a change in the status of self sign-up.  Therefore, if you have a deadline for sign-ups, or if you want to prevent group switching or last-minute sign-ups, this setting must be adjusted manually.
  • If groups are not the same from assignment to assignment, or if you have a student switching teams after some submissions are received, consider adding a new group set. You can choose either to clone a group set, carrying over existing memberships, or to have students sign up separately for a brand new set of groups.


  • Students who are not in groups will not be given the option to sign up for group appointments.

What you can do with groups in Canvas

  • Collect group assignments online - only one group member needs to turn it in. Note that the groups need to be created before they can be attached to an assignment. However, if you're in the middle of creating an assignment and you realize you don't have your groups ready, you can always go create the groups and edit the assignment later to use the new groups.
  • Share grades among team members - any group assignment grade entered for one group member will be assigned to other group members.  You can also choose to assign individual grades for group assignments.
  • Create appointments in the Canvas Calendar for which teams can sign up. This is often used to let groups choose presentation times or office meetings. Your groups must already exist before you schedule team appointments (that is, you cannot start creating the appointments; go and create your groups; and then edit your appointments.) You must start the appointment creation process with your groups already created -- you will not be able to edit your appointments to use groups retroactively. (This is different behavior than you will see when creating an Assignment, which you CAN edit to use groups later).
  • Collect information about what the group is doing by creating mini-assignments. For example, if you want to approve the group's topic choice, you can create a group assignment which uses a Text Entry Submission Type.  You can quickly page through these assignments in the SpeedGrader, providing feedback to group members with SpeedGrader comments.
  • Groups are automatically given sub-sites within Canvas. As an instructor, you can visit these group sites.
  • You can remind students not signed up for groups that they need to do so.

Group settings

Step-by-step instruction on the following features is available in this article.

  • You can limit students to signing up for groups in their section only. This feature works by preventing students from forming groups across sections; e.g., if a student from section 001 joins a group, then a student from section 002 cannot join that group. Note that the setting does not allow you to designate certain groups as being available only to certain sections; the best practice is to include the section number in names of groups, and to instruct students accordingly.
  • Many groups are limited to a certain number of members. You can set a limit on group size; this setting is available when "self sign-up" is enabled for the groups. Sometimes it is necessary to change the limit for a few teams in order to deal with the number of students in the class. You can do this by visiting the group set on the "People" page, clicking on the gear icon next to the group name, and selecting "Edit". The pop-up box will give you the option to increase or decrease the size limit for that particular group.
  • You have the option to assign group leaders - either the first student to join the group, or a random member (use random only when all students are signed up for teams). These leaders will have the ability to change their group's name. As the instructor, you also have the ability to designate group leaders manually; expand the group to show its members, then click the gear icon next to the student's name and choose Set as Leader.


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