Canvas Gradebook: Ungraded or Zeros?

It’s important for faculty to understand how the Canvas gradebook treats ungraded assignments.  By default, ungraded assignments are NOT included in any assignment total calculations.  This means that when assignments are left as “ungraded” (shown with a ‘-‘ dash), they are treated as if they never happened.  At first glance, this may seem problematic, but Canvas is really designed to allow faculty to enter assignments well ahead of when grades exist.  Many faculty members enter assignments for the whole semester right at the start, which builds a nice calendar and set of reminders for students as due dates approach.  Not including upcoming ungraded assignments is done by design, but Canvas assumes that for any past assignments some score will be entered – even if that score is zero.

Some of you may have noticed an option called “Treat ungraded as zeros” on the Gradebook Options menu (gear tool) in your gradebook.  It should be emphasized that while choosing this option does show the INSTRUCTOR how things would look if all ungraded assignments were zeros, it does NOT “stick” when you leave the gradebook, or affect what is seen by students.  It’s therefore important to actually enter a zero grade when a student doesn’t complete an assignment, rather than to leave it ungraded.

For large classes where missed assignments are common, there is a short cut.  In the dropdown list of any gradebook column, you can use the “Set Default Grade” option to enter zeros for any ungraded assignments. (See How do I set a default grade for an Assignment? via the link below) Best practice, then, is to make sure that zeros get entered along with other scores, leaving no “ungraded” dashes once an assignment is complete in your course. You can watch an eLearning screencast for a video demonstration, link to directions for setting a default grade, and see where to access your Gradebook Options Menu on this page.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For more general information or help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, be sure to visit Canvas One Stop.