Making feedback more visible to students

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the  Canvas Release Notes (2021-11-20).

I'm teaching a course using Canvas. This is the second semester I've used it. I like Canvas overall, but I've discovered that my students have a difficult time reading the feedback that I provide on their online assignment submissions because the feedback is split into three different locations, and when student view an assignment that I've graded, there is no visual indication of whether feedback is present, and no unified display of that feedback. I'd like the feedback to be visible by default, or else some kind of visually loud indicator present to show them there is feedback. Let me explain:


  1. Say I grade an assignment that a student submitted. They go to the assignment, and can see straight-away a general comment on the lower right-hand side. That's visible by default. Fine and good.
  2. But what about all the comments embedded in the document view? Those are not automatically displayed, and there is no marker to show that such comments have been embedded in the document. There should be at minimum a big icon saying feedback is embedded, for sure, so go look at it. Currently, "View Feedback" link is always present, regardless of whether feedback has been embedded or not.
  3. Furthermore, the rubric grade is displayed in the upper-right corner, but the detailed rubric view is hidden until students think to click "Show Rubric"... yet even then, the written feedback that I have provided on each rubric criteria remains hidden from view! Students have to hunt for that feedback by clicking the easily-overlooked speech-bubble icon one-at-a-time for each criterion. But I don't necessarily write a comment for each criterion, and there is no visual sign or indication that a comment has been written or not.


How are students supposed to know and remember to check all of these various locations to receive the complete set of feedback provided by their instructors? It is utterly inefficient and defeatist because students don't seem to realize that all this feedback is sitting there waiting for them--and they don't know to look for it.


Now, from a student point of view, I don't want to have to click in so many different places to hunt (perhaps fruitlessly) for feedback that my instructor might or might not have left for me (since there is no indicator signalling the existence of written comments).


The fact that written feedback has been given within the submitted file and within the rubric should be foregrounded--it should be made highly visible to the students checking their grades. That feedback is part of the learning process. It is essential for students to read that feedback in order to improve their work. If they don't know it is there, what is the point?


Don't force users to guess and hunt for feedback. They won't do it. Make it obvious that the feedback has been given by putting some kind of big symbol or message next to the assignment doc (or by displaying the assignment by default so students can see that margin comments etc have been embedded in the file) and also by automatically displaying the rubric WITH the written feedback already visible. Don't make the students click in three hundred different places to get all their feedback for a single assignment. Please.

Community Novice


Thanks for making this point. It’s true that faculty are feeling impatient about this issue, but it’s only because we see the negative impact it has on our students. I have ceased using Crocodoc for my feedback because I can’t bear to think that all of the hours I spend giving feedback are wasted because students have trouble viewing my comments.

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College, Newark Campus


 @dpell ,  @stevec ,  @jhurley ,

Again, we definitely are aware of the pain this integration with crocodoc is causing for students.  Personally I don't blame you for not using it.  Daniel wrote, "Please keep us informed as things move ahead..."  Please believe me - I am very much looking forward to that day...

Community Novice

My students can not see the papers I graded because a few of them mistakenly uploaded another document to that slot. Only the last document uploaded is visible to students. This must be fixed.  Students can not get copies of graded work and now they can not see the work!

Community Novice

Wondering if you could give us an update about where Canvas is with making Crocodoc files and instructor feedback more visible for students?

Community Champion

(Disclaimer - I'm from an institution, not from Canvas.) About a month ago, a Canvas Product manager commented on plans for a Submission Details improvement for students in a related idea's discussion thread. Here's a direct link to the comment:

Community Champion

I was asked to add the following from that has been archived. Please consider this when redesigning the feedback process.


The View Feedback link for graded student assignments is poorly placed, such that students who use a collapsed web browser window will not see the link until they scroll the display to the right or expand the browser. This assumes that students know to scroll the display or to resize the window. Most just panic and opt to contact their instructor or seek help from our help desk team.

For example, this is what a student will see with a collapsed screen. The scroll bar is far down the page and there's no indication that the feedback link exists:

link not visible

If the student stumbles upon scrolling, they will then find the link:

link found

I propose that the View Feedback link be relocated to a responsive location on the screen where students will always have visible access to the link. Perhaps under the Show Rubric link?

move location

Thank you,


Community Contributor

I have scanned this lengthy thread and think this isn't too redundant.  I am currently helping a student who is unable to see any of the feedback provided by her instructor because there were multiple uploads for this one assignment and the actual essay where the faculty left their feedback is invisible to the student b/c students can only access the most recent document uploaded.  Students need to be able to view any document that they have uploaded, particularly when they have faculty feedback on them.


Community Champion

 @arovner ‌, that's a good point about students typically only seeing feedback on the most recent submission. If you haven't already, consider voting and commenting on this closely related feature idea, also in Radar‌ stage:

It will be awesome when those two improvements arise -- ideally close to each other, I hope!

Community Contributor

Thank you  @RobDitto  for the link to the related topic.  I just hopped over there and voted it up.

Community Novice

I teach my students to look for feedback by creating an assignment asking for revisions; however I agree that Canvas' feedback system is a mess. I have to toggle back and forth between the "bubbles" on the right margin and the text feedback because there isn't always room for the margin comments. Then, the typeface on the resulting PDFs is so small that students can't read it! Why do I bother? Well, feedback on assignments is an essential component of the exchange that is teaching and learning.

CrocDo, for all its problems, worked better than DocViewer. I'm appalled that we have to teach with such clumsy, makeshift instruments that are released when they're still full of bugs. The answer is always, "We're working on it. It's complicated." I'm sure it is complicated. Meanwhile, we're supposed to be teaching and students are supposed to be learning.