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Lamplighter II

New Canvas feature - View Ungraded as Zero - What are your thoughts?

I'm the Canvas admin at my school. 

So Canvas will be releasing a new feature on December 19.  This feature is the "View Ungraded as Zero" feature and you can play with it now on your Canvas Beta Site.  Here's a link to the Canvas Release Notes where this feature is explained.

I shared information about this new feature with a fellow teacher.  Her thoughts are below. 

"But still, how does that benefit us?  As a teacher, it just automatically fills in a 0 which is helpful since it then takes off the responsibility from us to make sure that there is a grade and not a blank.  If a teacher is the only one that sees the impact of the 0 getting added, how does that help the student?  Usually, seeing a 0 for an assignment only motivates some students to get them to make up the work.  However, for a bigger majority, it is the drop in their overall GPA for the class (even though they only see that every other week) that pushes them into doing the work.  So, if a teacher sees the change, but not the student, what is the benefit for the students?"

For those of you who are familiar with this, what are your thoughts about this?  I want to make sure that this will benefit our teachers before sharing it with them.


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4 Replies
Adventurer II

Hi @rpsimon,

I posted a reply in the release notes, but I'll just in short let you know here that most Canvas admins at my institution are *not* happy about the return of this feature.  It really causes nothing but confusion between teachers and students, as the teachers generally don't understand that they are the only ones who see the affects of the option when it's turned on.  Students, other teachers/TAs,, etc do not see the changes, not do they get posted to any SIS systems.  For a quick "what-if" type thing, I can see a little benefit, but other than that it's been all negative in the past.  In my opinion, whatever the teacher sees in the gradebook is what the student should see too (of course minus intentionally unposted grades).  Many teachers turn this option on at the beginning of the semester and think their students are seeing 0s and low averages because of missing assignments when in fact they are seeing high scores and do not realize how badly they may be doing in a particular course.

I really hope something changes before this feature is released, or at a minimum it's put behind a feature flag so some institutions (like ours) could choose to leave the option off.


Thanks so much for letting me know!  I'm glad to know that the teacher at my school whom I asked about this feels the same way that you and your admins do.  I guess I just won't share the feature.  


@rpsimonand @chriscas - I and my instructor team are right there with you...

Unfortunately, this re-release of the feature (for which I’m glad, don’t get me wrong…) doesn’t solve the actual issue --> that students need to be able to see their final grade in the course if they do nothing else in the course. Many students think they can skip the final exam because their current final grade is an A, but without doing the exam, it falls to a C. Then they're surprised they got a C... "but I had an A!" etc. Can't tell you how many times I've had that conversation with students. (As an academic advisor, I'm the one the students come to to complain about this for quite a number of courses.)  So STUDENTS need access to a “treat ungraded as zero” sort of option, not just instructors.

I could not agree more. This seems to be the core issue.

I am very glad that 'View ungraded as 0' is back (I proposed the return of it in the Community and detailed the particular use cases we need it for here:

However an ideal implementation would allow a) admins to force it on and off at the account/sub-account level (our academics primarily need to see their Gradebooks with this feature enabled all the time) and b) allow admins to force it on and off for students and their view of their Grades. So that there's no further confusion about students thinking they have a higher grade than they do, and thinking they don't have to do the final exam for example.

a) would also allow institutions who feel it does cause confusion to disable it and continue using Gradebook as they wish, and institutions such as ours could continue using it as appropriate.