Canvas makes grading Assignments fast and simple, saving you time. Canvas maintains Assignment integrity by enabling uploaded submissions, time-stamped entries, auto-graded, instant feedback, annotations, automatically weighted assignments, and much more.

To gain additional information, watch the Instructor Assignment Overview Vimeo video, bookmark the extensive documentation found on the Canvas Assignments guide.



Canvas is full of features for making digital assignments. Canvas also makes it easy to provide feedback digitally (and thus directly) to your students. These are the highlights:

  • Canvas meets the ISU’s standards for security and privacy, including Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). Review ISU’s FERPA page.
  • Online Assignments may be submitted using multiple formats. Text entry, embed a Studio video or large file, or file upload (5 GB). Most likely, you will only use the file upload possibility (online Assignment guide).
  • Assignments may be assigned to individual students, groups or sections.
  • A benefit for students using Assignments is the Syllabus (in Canvas). This feature lists all deadlines for all assignments, and the grades for assignments will appear on the personal Grades page.
  • Use SpeedGrader to provide feedback, marking, and grading. Learn more from the Canvas SpeedGrader guide, or view a video about SpeedGrader.

Get Started

  1. Go to your course in Canvas.
  2. Choose the Assignment link from the Course menu (left side of your screen).
  3. Consider providing the following Assignment details:
    • Purpose: Does your purpose statement specify a skill or skill set that students will gain? What content knowledge will students practice?
    • Tasks: Clarify steps on what to do and how to do it. Does your description help students to focus their time efficiently on producing the highest quality work possible in the time given? Would students benefit from some practice exercises (in the form of a pre-task) in class to prepare them to perform the task outside of class?
    • Criteria: How will students determine whether they are completing the assignment efficiently and effectively? (e.g., how many words, or pages, you expect; if it includes calculations, specify if you are interested in an outcome, or the calculation steps). Finally, provide examples and strategies for students to improve their work.
      (Step 3: Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) framework)
  4. Select the method you want to use for grading. You can grade your Assignment by percentage or points, but also with complete/incomplete, or as not graded. Use Canvas rubrics when grading student work because they help to make grading more transparent and offer context for feedback.
  5. Choose different types of submission for an assignment. Typically you should select the submission type Online (view the student online submission guide). This approach means that students submit their assignments through Canvas, which makes it very convenient for you to mark and grade. Furthermore, you then choose which the students can submit file types.
  6. Create a due date for the Assignment so that it is clear when students should finish it. Every student will be informed on due dates through the Syllabus of your course (view the student Syllabus guide). You furthermore have the option to set availability dates that restrict the times that an Assignment can be submitted.
  7. When you create Assignments, they’re going to be unpublished initially. What does this mean?
    • “Published” means visible to students and included in grade calculations.
    • “Unpublished” means invisible to students and excluded from grade calculations (nothing in your Gradebook, not shown or included in any way in each student’s individual Grades).

Note: If your assignment has not yet been published, the assignment will show the Save & Publish button. The Save button will create a draft of your assignment so you can publish it later.

Plagiarism Detection

  • If you do not need it or the assignment is not a written assignment, use a Canvas assignment.
  • If you do need to utilize plagiarism detection, then use a Turnitin Direct assignment. Additionally, you may want your students to use Turnitin: Draft Coach.

Video assignments

  • If you want your students to submit a video assignment, then use the submission type “text-entry”: Your students can create a video uploaded to Studio and then embed the Studio video into the text box of the assignment in the rich content editor.


  • If you wish to provide a grade for something that is not tangibly submitted, e.g., a participation grade, then create an assignment with the submission type “no submission.”
  • For anything that will be turned in offline and in-person, e.g., a pop quiz or a paper exam, create an “on-paper assignment.”
  • Be aware that columns are created in the Gradebook if you added an Assignment in Canvas. If you need to create a column in the Gradebook to use for manual grading, you can create a No Submission or On Paper assignment.
  • If you need to adjust a due date for a single student, follow the directions in How do I assign students different due dates for the same assignment?
  • SpeedGrader can access any graded assignment in Canvas (including graded discussions and quizzes). Besides providing a place for comments, it can be used with rubrics and grades that you enter pass directly into the Canvas Gradebook. See How do I use SpeedGrader? 

Short instructional videos:

Using an Assignment will allow the posts to remain private and will enable the instructor to comment on each post.

Before setting up your journal assignment

Decide if you want to give one grade for the overall journal postings or assign a separate grade each time the student posts.  If you want to give one grade, you will create one journal assignment.  By default Canvas allows multiple submission attempts to an assignment which is great for a recurring assignment like a weekly journal.  Students will be able to access the assignment and submit a new journal post each week. In Grades, the instructor can access and grade each attempt separately.

If you want to assign a grade for each posting, you will create a separate assignment for each posting.

Create a New Assignment

  1. Create a new assignment (Reflection Journal) by going to Assignments and selecting +Assignment.
  2. Enter the number of points and instructions.
  3. Select Online Submissions from the Submission box and allow submissions to be either text entry (the student types directly into the editor) or file uploads.
    Reflection Journal Assignment
  4. Add availability dates to the assignment.  When does it start and when does it close?  If this is a weekly journal that students will be resubmitting to, it may not make sense to add a due date.
  5. Click on Update Assignment and then Publish your Assignment

Student View

    1. Students will see the assignment – and click Submit Assignment (upper right)
      Student view - Submit Assignment
    2. Students will choose which type of submission (File Upload, Text Entry CyBox, Google Drive, Studio)
      Types of files for submission in an assignment
    3. Then, the student will click Submit AssignmentWhen students return to the Reflection Journal the next week they will see an option to Re-Submit Assignment. This will not overwrite the previous submission. All attempts are recorded and are available in the Grade Book.


Grading the Journal Assignments

When you go to the Grades column for the Journal assignment you will be able to select which attempt you wish to grade.

  1. Use the dropdown menu to select which submission to view.
  2. Then, enter the grade
    Providing comments each week
  3. Add a comment for the submissions. The comments will all be reflected in the grade book, but the grade will only reflect the most recent grade.  
    1. Enter the comment in the text entry box, attach a file or record a short video using the video button.
    2. Then click submit
      Provide a comment, attach a comment or record a short video with audio

Things to know

  • So if you gave a student a 5 on the first week and a 3 on the second week, only the 3 is recorded.  The multiple assignment attempt method will only record one grade for all journal entries, but the comments to the student will be recorded for each week.
  • If you need to assign separate grades for each post, then using separate assignments is recommended.


Idea: Create a private reflection journal with Assignments, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Idea: Create a private reflection journal with Assignments, is a derivative of Creating a Journal in Canvas developed by Steward University (retrieved on August 27, 2020) from

Assignments, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Assignments, is a derivative of Canvas Resources developed by University of Twente (retrieved on May 13, 2020) from