[Gradebook] Nickname for students with same name

At the University of Wisconsin - Madison, we frequently have courses with over 500 students. With those numbers, we frequently get two students with the same name. When you're working in the gradebook, or in Speedgrader, there is no way to confirm which student is which.


Additionally, with a large population of foreign nationals, many will adopt Americanized names (e.g. "Frank", in lieu of "Zhang").


For these two reasons, (and there may be others) I would like to see a "Nickname" option for each student. A field (my thinking) in gradebook that could be toggled on/off as needed. Once the field is on, it is left blank for the all students. But, the instructor can custom populate that field for each student. Whatever is shown there would be used "in place" of the student's official name within the Gradebook, or SpeedGrader. If this field is left blank, then the official student name is employed as-is.

Added to Theme

Community Contributor

I'd like to re-emphasize that this is really a problem in the Groups interface.

Community Explorer

Dear Colleagues,

I have a suggestion….

CanvasCon is coming up in early Oct. Sign up. https://www.instructure.com/events/instructurecon21

We should raise this issue at all of the diversity and student-centered learning events, and with any employees of instructure at CanvasCon. Point people to this thread too.

Maybe we can:

1. Get an official response on this thread.  communication to users is a good thing.

2. This bug fix to be added to their development road map before all the other unimportant new features in plan.

Students can change their name at the account level. But, it does not propagate everywhere properly, and name conflicts need to be handled properly too.

Community Novice

i would love to be able to add nicknames and also preferred pronouns. 

Community Contributor

@Sloth - are you requesting pronouns display in a certain interface?

They are available if configured for your account, but may not display where you're wanting them:

Community Novice


I added the pronoun remark without much thought. I do see pronouns in some places which is adequate.

What appeals to me is a column in the grade book interface or people interface in which I could add a variety of student specific information, including nicknames, ADA accommodations, etc.  

I suspect there are lots of uses for such a column that would be visible to faculty/instructors/TAs, but not students.  It would facilitate remembering students and responding to individual needs.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

@Sloth  That describes the Notes column to a T:  How do I use the Notes column in the Gradebook? 

Community Member

I vote for this functionality, there are students in class who prefer to be called by different names for all the reasons stated above. Right now I manually have to convert student participation by memory to the official roster name, with a mental or offline name conversion. Should be built in. Request this feature please!!

Community Participant

While it is helpful that the SIS ID is added to the name when selecting students for differentiated  assignments (as an example), no such visual aid for distinguishing students is provided for the quizzes moderate view (at least in classic quizzes). Maybe I am missing something?

I hope we see some way to be able to add a nickname or some other feature that will help distinguish between students with the same name.

Community Member

If you have two students with the same first name and last name but different middle initial such as Jay K. Patel and Jay S. Patel then two problems occur in speedgrader:

1. the names are identical in the assignment list (Jay Patel)

2. the order is not necessarily alphabetical and there is no way to confirm it except by making the following assumption

Currently I assume (not a good idea) that the order in a speedgrader list is the same as the order in the gradebook. In the gradebook I can identify the ssid as a secondary display and recognize that the students are not in alphabetic order.

This is a hack because if I forget when using the speedgrader about the incorrect alphabetic order I end up swapping student assignment information.

Community Explorer

I am hoping that this is somewhere in the works. This would have multiple benefits.   I have more than one student who prefers to go by their middle name or a nickname not related to their first name. I also have students that are trans and can't change their names in our SIS for one reason or another.  I can understand, to a point, not letting students have the ability to change their names, I am a middle school teacher and could see some students taking advantage of that to be funny, but teachers should be able to.