Canvas How-To: Gradebook Setup and Grading

Exploring Assignment and Activity Types

Canvas makes a distinction between assignments and activities. Assignments are almost always graded. Activities still require students to do something, but the task itself will not earn the student any points. 

What is the difference between a Canvas Assignment and a Canvas Activity?

Creating Assignments First

To get started configuring your Canvas Gradebook, be sure to first create a Canvas Assignment for every graded assignment in your course. Assignments can be set to display grades as points, a percentage, complete/incomplete, GPA scale, or letter grade. After creating and publishing a graded assignment, it will appear in the Canvas Gradebook. 

Adding an assignment in Canvas


For an in depth look at each assignment and activity type, visit the help pages for AssignmentsDiscussions, and Quizzes.

How do I use the New Gradebook?

Former Blackboard User Tip: Many Blackboard Grade Center setup tasks are addressed in the Assignments area of a Canvas course. 

Grading In-Class or Assignments Without Submissions

Grading of in-class presentations, participation, in-class exams, or assignments submitted as hard copy can be included in your gradebook as non-submission assignments. 

Creating an in-class assignment in Canvas

How do I create assignment columns for non-submission assignments in the Gradebook?

Entering or Updating Grades in the Gradebook

Like an Excel spreadsheet, grades can easily be entered and updated directly within the Canvas Gradebook. Use the keyboard Enter and Arrow Keys to quickly enter grades. Click on the arrow inside each cell to make comments or change the submission status.

Entering grades pt 1

Entering grades pt 2

How do I enter and edit grades in the New Gradebook?

For assignments where the majority of students are to receive the same grade, use the Default Grade option to bulk update each student's grade for an individual assignment. 

Set default grade

How do I set a default grade for an assignment?

Mute an assignment while you grade, ensuring all students see their grades at the same time. You can also decide to hide the entire gradebook from students.

Mute assignment

How do I mute or unmute an assignment in the New Gradebook?
How can I hide the gradebook from students?

Gradebook Tools

Grabebook Tools maximize your productivity when using the Gradebook.  They also make grading in bulk much more straightforward. These tools are found on the top of the student roster.

  1. The Gradebook dropdown allows you to switch between three different views:
    • Gradebook: View all students and assignments.
    • Individual: View grades and points for a single student at a time with customizable settings.
    • Gradebook History: ​View previous grades on assignments from yourself or a grader.
  2. The View dropdown allows you to:
    • Arrange or Filter students by different categories.
    • Toogle the visibility for Notes and Unpublished Assignments​.
    • View the Statuses' legend for a color key in the gradebook, along with customizing the colors.
  3. The Actions dropdown allows you to Import or Export grades and rosters in the .csv file type.
  4. The All Modules dropdown allows you to view assignments from all modules or a singlular module at a time.
  5. The Search Bar allows you to quickly find students.
  6. The Gear Icon provides options for Late Policies​:
    • Set a default grade for all missing work.
    • Set a customized grade deduction for late work.

Canvas gradebook tools

How do I upload changes to the Gradebook?

Creating Assignment Groups

Assignment Groups give your gradebook structure, helping students see the major graded components of your course. 

Creating an assignment group in Canvas

How do I add an assignment group in a course?

Former Moodle User Tip: Assignment Groups in Canvas are similar to Categories in the Moodle Gradebook. 

Weighting Assignments by Percentage

Should you choose to grade using weighted assignment categories, first create Assignment Groups. Then give each group a percentage of the total course grade.

Assigning group grade weights in Canvas

How do I weight the final course grade based on assignment groups?

Awarding Extra Credit

Canvas handles extra credit in a novel way. Canvas does not provide a dedicated extra credit setting, instead allowing instructors to add extra credit points to any assignment. If you need to create a dedicated extra credit assignment, set the points for the assignment to zero. Later during grading, add however many points the student earned for attempting the extra credit assignment.

How do I give extra credit in a course?

Dropping Lowest Scores

WIthin an Assignment Group, choose to drop the lowest scores within a series of assignments with the same number of points. 

Editing an assignment group in Canvas
Dropping the lowest scores in an assignment group

How do I create rules for an assignment group?

Using SpeedGrader

Use SpeedGrader to enter grades directly within an assignment while providing students written or verbal feedback. 

For an in depth look, visit the help pages for SpeedGrader

Creating a Rubric

Help students see the criteria you will use to grade their assignments. Rubrics in Canvas are interactive, permitting an instructor to simply select a cell in the rubric providing points towards a score. 

For an in depth look, visit the help pages for Rubrics

Viewing a Student's Grades

You can view an individual student's grades during office hours or advising by clicking on their name in the Gradebook.

Canvas viewing student grades

How do I view a student's Grades page in a course?

Handling Missing Submissions in Canvas

In Canvas (as in Moodle), any missing submissions, or activities or assignments that have not yet been graded by an instructor will appear as a dash (-) in the Canvas gradebook. A dash (-) in the gradebook is not the same as a zero (0). Canvas will NOT calculate a dash (-) into a student's total grade.

Here are two examples of when a dash (-) will appear in your gradebook.

Example 1: A student did not attempt an online quiz or upload a required assignment in Canvas. For that gradebook item they will have a dash (-) in the gradebook. A dash (-) in the gradebook is not the same as a zero (0). 

Example 2: You collected an in-class assignment and manually graded students' assignments. You entered all grades for the assignments you collected. If a student did NOT turn in their assignment, you did nothing. For that gradebook item, a student who did not submit the assignment will have a dash (-) in the gradebook. A dash (-) in the gradebook is not the same as a zero (0). 

The gradebook example below illustrates the effect of a dash (-) as opposed to entering a zero (0). 

Changing missing submissions (-) to zero (0) grades

There are 3 suggested ways to update any gradebook items from a dash (-) to a zero (0) so that the student's gradebook total is accurate. 

1. Replace (-) with 0 as you grade with SpeedGrader or Gradebook

Check your Canvas gradebook for any missing submissions from students. Manually change any dashes to zeros so that the gradebook item will count towards their total grade. See the guides below on how to edit grades in Canvas.

How do I enter and edit grades in SpeedGrader?

How do I enter and edit grades in the New Gradebook?

2. Use the default grade tool to change all missing submissions to zeros

Canvas has a gradebook tool that you can use to change all grades for a specific gradebook column. Once you have entered grades for a submitted assignment, (or the deadline for an online self-graded quiz has passed) Canvas can update existing missing submissions (items that appear as dashes) to a zero. For more information on this process, please see the guide below.

Note: When using the tool this way, make sure you do NOT select "Overwrite already-entered grades" as this would replace any grades you have already entered.

How do I set a default grade for an assignment?

3. Apply the Missing Submission Policy in the Gradebook

Canvas has a new gradebook tool that allows for grading policies. The missing submissions policy allows an automatic score to apply to missing submissions. The missing label applies to things that are still missing after the due date. By setting this policy to a 0%, missing submissions will automatically receive this score. You can always adjust the score down the line by removing the missing label and modifying the score.

How do I apply a Missing Submission policy in the New Gradebook?

What to learn more?

View all Canvas Guides for Assignments and Grades.

Information on this page is adapted from content created by the Center for Effective Teaching and Learning at Cal State L.A.