Grade totals are disabled by default in Canvas

As the headline says, grade totals (and distributions) are disabled by default in Canvas. That is, students can see their grades on individual assignments, and they can see their averages across assignment groups, but they do not see the final, computed grade (in the red box).


We effected this change of defaults due to significant faculty concern that the grade total computed by Canvas was either misleading (as it didn’t factor in class participation or the grading weights were not set in Canvas) or distracting from the feedback that we believe is significantly more valuable. It should be noted, however, that a reasonably canny student with a calculator can easily guesstimate their total grade based on their individual grades.

How do I turn on grade totals for students?

To allow students to see their final computed grade, you will need to change your course settings:

  1. In the left-hand course navigation sidebar, choose Settings.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click on More Options.
  3. Uncheck the box labeled “Hide totals in student grade summary” and then click Update Course Details.

And what are “grade distribution graphs”?

For the curious among us, if you choose to also uncheck the “Hide grade distribution graphs from students”, you will be allowing students to see where their score falls relative to their classmates on any given assignment:

Grade Distribution Chart

If I read the Canvas documentation correctly, the white box represents the middle two quartiles (everyone from the 25th percentile up to the 75th percentile), divided by the gray vertical line at the median value. The gray horizontal “whiskers” extend out to include the lowest (left) and highest) scores. In the example above, we see that the student scored slightly above the median, that the bulk of the class scored fairly close to that student, that the difference between the 100th percentile and the 75th percentile is negligible, while the difference between the 1st and 25th percentile is substantial.

Mr. Battis has written 88 articles

Educator. Electronics. Esthetics. Easterner (who thinks he's a Westerner).

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