older white female Instructor pointing to whiteboard with two students paying attention


Canvas offers several options for assessing your students. There is flexibility so that you can use the tools to suit your teaching needs. When assessing student learning, it is important to create a variety of assignments that cover multiple approaches to learning. In Canvas, “assignments” refers to assignments, quizzes, and graded discussions which can include papers, projects, quizzes, tests, graded discussions, and more.


Assignments in Canvas can be for submissions by the students in Canvas that include files, images, text, URLs, etc. Assignments can also be used to create Grade Columns in the Canvas gradebook for items that require grading but may be on paper or for things like in-class presentations.


Quizzes in Canvas, refers to both quizzes and exams. Online quizzes can be a helpful way to assess student learning, however, it is critical to consider how quizzes can best support student learning outcomes in your specific course(s). They can be set up to use a wide variety of question types and responses and can grade student responses automatically, saving valuable grading time. They can also be set up to promote critical thinking and active learning.

On May 8, 2024, New Quizzes will be enabled in all Canvas courses. New Quizzes adds efficient design, robust reporting, and engaging, technology-enhanced item types to your assessment efforts.


Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions allows for interactive communication between two or more people; users can participate in a conversation with an entire class or group.

Discussions can also be created as an assignment for grading purposes (and seamlessly integrated with the Canvas Gradebook), or simply serve as a forum for topical and current events. Discussions can also be created within student groups.

Best Practices

When creating assignments, consider the following recommendations:

  • Make sure your assignment instructions are clear. Rubrics can help to define clear expectations.
  • Include due dates so that the assignments will pop up on a student’s “To Do” list.  Availability dates are also helpful, particularly for quizzes and discussions.
  • Name assignments in a descriptive and meaningful manner so students can tell what they are at a glance.
  • Add assignments to modules to keep your course organized. Many instructors hide assignments from the course navigation so that students are guided through modules to see assignments. This helps put the assignments in context.
  • Grade your assignments using a consistent scale. Many instructors find that grading out of 100 points makes using weighted assignment groups easier (and final grade calculations).
  • Add your assignments to assignment groups to help with grade calculations and organization.

Additional Support

To learn more about assessments in Canvas, register for a workshop or schedule a one-on-one appointment with a member of the ITDS team.

For technical support, contact the IT Service Desk by phone at 973-655-7971, option 3 or email itservicedesk@montclair.edu.