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

Last June CrocDoc was exchanged for DocViewer. DocViewer has its own set of problems. Students still have trouble finding the feedback. Once they find it, they can't read it because the typeface is so small. See my expanded comment below.

Community Novice

Sherry, I could not agree more. I have been trying to get attention to this issue for over two years now, and in that time, no improvements have been made. I now use voice feedback because the Canvas feedback system is so poor. But now I realize that the voice feedback feature on Canvas is also full of bugs and is not reliable. So now I am recording voice feedback using Quicktime and uploading through Canvas. It's enormously frustrating that the Canvas feedback system, which could potentially benefit student learning so much, is such a fail. 

Community Novice

Shane, we've experienced several students and TA's who reported the same thing to us. Initially I had thought that there was a bug with Canvas, but really it was just poor UX/UI design Smiley Sad

I believe even the Show Rubric should be larger and framed in a way that is more visible to students.

Community Explorer

What Shane has so clearly documented above should be treated as a bug (a UI bug, but a bug nonetheless)! And, it's a bug that should be considered separately from this broader feature request. (We're not asking to make feedback "more visible"; we're asking for it to be "visible", period. Look at Shane's first screenshot, please.) 

Community Team
Community Team

Greetings all.  First, my apologies, I thought I had added a comment to this thread already, but I clearly have not.  In April this year we announced 12 priorities that we committed to developing as part of the “Khaki” project.  You will find this idea linked to priority #3 Student Crocodoc Feedback View in Khaki 2017: Priorities & Related Ideas.  

So, while this idea is not in development (which is why the stage has not been changed from radar), it is going through the development process.  Follow this idea to receive updates when they are available.

Community Explorer

Ditto to Judy: I confused some poor Tier I student support worker at my institution asking about whether this bug had been reported because it never even occurred to me that it might just be... a thing? I realize there's never such a thing as 'just' in codework, but nevertheless, if somebody could 'just' go in and make this iframe responsive so the View Feedback link doesn't disappear as easily, that would have saved me about an email a day on this subject alone in the past week.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi, Mike,

We actually just had one of our engineers address that behavior and the code is in the beta environment. It will be part of the production release on November 18.



Community Explorer

Erin, that’s fantastic news; thank you!

Community Novice

Thanks for the update, Erin. I looked at the feature just now and it still does get cut off, though at some point the comments column gets pushed down to show the link (short screencast, no audio: screencast-view-feedback.mp4 - Google Drive )

The work on this is likely still in progress, but I just wanted to mention my experience here.

Community Champion

This is correct - the View Feedback link is still cutoff if a user decreases the size of their browser. The page is only responsive to keep the right pane in the window, but then causes the display to need scrolling. This is not obvious to the user unless they scroll to the bottom of the page and see the horizontal bar.