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 Champion

I truly hope this idea is further in development. I was giving a Canvas presentation to students a few days ago and of course I was explaining how to use Speedgrader and give student feedback. Inevitably the question came up if students were notified about the feedback and if they could see it easily. I had to explain that at this time students would have no idea they received this feedback and the instructor would have to train the students to look for it, and where to look for it for now. This is really unfortunate, students have no clue they have even received feedback and instructors have to go out of their way to teach students to look for it whenever they have an assignment graded. I know this is not an easy process, but it is something I would hope would get priority. 

Community Novice


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Community Contributor

DOUBLE amen!! WHEN is this going to be implemented? Even thought I have a “black-box warning” in my syllabus telling students how to view comments…and I post a notice on Canvas…and I mention it in class multiple times during the semester…I still find that the majority of my students fail to see my feedback. It’s like writing with invisible ink…what good does it do if students can’t find it??

Joan Merriam

Sierra College – Nevada County Campus

Department of Communication Studies

Community Novice

This is the most important thing Canvas could fix. Students only improve with feedback. And so only improve if they see their feedback.

Community Explorer

I am 100% in favour of "Show Rubric by default" as a control option to solve this issue. Currently, it's hidden by default with "Show Rubric" as a link.

The next step would be to reformat that entire page, but we'll live to fight another day.

Community Novice

 @dfdimatt ‌

As a current student who is using Canvas for the first time and thrives on instructor feedback, this idea is accurate to the student experience as well.  I tend to scour through any new program I interact with, but even then I still accidentally find things in Canvas that are of great importance to me, many times multiple weeks too late. . .

Community Champion

I went to a face to face Canvas admin meeting last week and get a preview of Assignments 2.0 and it appears that will address this issue completely. Students will see all feedback a lot easier than they do now with it, I hope this is something that can come out quickly then.

Community Novice

I was logging in today to make the exact same suggestion. 

I'd also like to suggest that students see the feedback entered on submitted documents automatically without clicking "Submission Details" and then "View Feedback."

I can spend literallly HOURS grading documents and giving feedback and they NEVER (I mean NEVER) see it unless I require they see it and make a second assignment where they submit it again with the changes (giving me one more item to grade).

I'm going to start another feature request for the following and request support: 
I'd like to request a menu of proofreader marks to click and drag into documents. I spend a lot of time creating proofreading marks in student feedback. Examples: delete marks, insert period, insert comma, insert semicolon, insert question mark, add a paragraph, etc.

Community Explorer

Hi all, I'm updating and reposting this comment again to show that there has been zero progress on addressing the actual Honest-to-Peat BUG that exists within the student view of Speedgrader comments.  It's bad enough that you have to click through multiple steps ("Submission Details -> View Rubric") as noted throughout this thread (with 735 votes "up" to date) -- but once you get there, as a student, there is problem that causes the window to resize constantly as you move your mouse across it.

I first posted a demo in Feb 2017, then in Feb 2018, and now again in July 2019.  Will I have to demonstrate this AGAIN in 2020?   Maybe Instructure can answer that question.


Demonstration video (July 31, 2019): Canvas Speedgrader Bug - July 31st 2019 - UW-Madison Kaltura MediaSpace" title="https:...


If I were using Speedgrader as an instructor but had to deal with it as the students do, I would just simply never even touch the comment feature.  But since it works so well for teachers, it should work even better for the students: their learning depends on reading and processing feedback.  

Extract from my comment on Feb 5, 2018:

 In February 2017 I added comments and a video to this feed raising the issue of a design flaw (read “bug”) in the student view of Speedgrader feedback.  Since then I’ve received over 100 email updates from the Canvas Community as the numerous issues of Speedgrader feedback ...

This screen video on February 5, 2018:


Extract from my comment on Feb 23, 2017:

In the Teachers View the comments and feedback appear in a large, easy to read window.  In the students' view, they appear in a smaller box which can be resized and moved around inside a large grey frame-area.  Resizing does not always work efficiently and sometimes (e.g. in certain browsers) the box refuses to stay in a fixed place ...


This screen video was posted on February 23, 2017:

Community Contributor

Excellent post, Daniel...or should I say, excellent re-post? Here we are on the cusp of yet another new semester without Canvas implementing the fix to address what everyone agrees is a major, major problem.

All this reminds me of the old song, "How Long Has This Been Going On?" In other words...HOW LONG have instructors been complaining about this? HOW LONG is it going to take before Canvas acknowledges  the problem? And HOW LONG is it going to take for Canvas to actually do something about it?

Joan Merriam