Why can’t I edit my rubric?

A dialog that has happened a few times this year.

A teacher asked me:

Hey Seth, quick question. As I’m going through my last bit of grading, I realized that I want to adjust a rubric of mine. However, when I go to edit it, it says that I cannot as it was used in multiple assignments. Anyway around this besides deleting the rubric (which is already connected to past assignments) and creating a new one (or just create a new one and name it differently). Since rubrics are always changing and getting tweaked shouldn’t canvas be able to handle the ability to edit?

And I said:

Here’s what’s happening — and I’m just going to try to explain in a flow of words: brace yourself. (And I just did some testing to make sure that I think that I understand this.) 

You create Rubric 1 for Assignment A. A this point, you can edit the rubric through Assignment A or through the Rubric Manager under Outcomes. No problem — we know that Rubric 1 really only applies to one assignment, so any changes that you make only impact that one assignment: no surprises. In fact, even if you use Rubric 1 to grade, you can still edit it in both places (although you may get warnings about how the Rubric has been used for grading and this may change grades): you’re still only impacting a single assignment. 

Now, we add Rubric 1 to Assignment B. At this point, both Assignment A and Assignment B are connected to Rubric 1. If you try to make changes to the Rubric through the Rubric Manager, it knows that you will be impacting multiple assignments, something that you probably don’t want to do (I can easily envision moments when I _would_ want to to do this, but we’ll let that stand for now). This would be a particularly bad scene if you had returned grades to students for Assignment A, wanted to tweak Rubric 1 for Assignment B, and in so doing changed the grades in Assignment A unintentionally. 

However, you can still edit Rubric 1 through Assignment B. When you do so, as soon as you save changes, you will now have “Rubric 1 (1)” connected to Assignment B while Rubric 1 is still connected to Assignment A. If you go into the Rubric Manager, you will see that there are two (similarly named) rubrics in there. At this point you have essentially created a new version of Rubric 1 that can also be reused, without impacting the original version that was used to grade Assignment A. 

Does that make sense? Essentially, Canvas is trying to protect you from accidentally changing lots and lots of grades, even if that is what you most want to do.

To which the teacher replied:

To be clear, to fix my issue, I just need to go into my latest assignment that used it (or just use it again for a new assignment) and edit it there?

To which I said:


Mr. Battis has written 102 articles

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

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