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 Participant

Hi Cheryl,

This suggestion might be along the lines of what you're looking for? 

Community Novice

Do whatever you can to make feedback more obvious to students. As an online instructor, I spent countless hours giving quality feedback to my students. It is frustrating for both the instructor and the student when the student can't find the feedback or usually doesn't even know it exists. To offset this problem I've used all kinds of methods to message to students how and where to find their feedback, taking time that could have been spent more productively. Feedback is so critical to online students in the online environment. We need to put this at the top of the top priority list.

Community Contributor

I recently have voted on an idea that is related to this which is release the feedback before releasing the marks.  We want our students to focus on our feedback not the numeric
This idea is related and well worth looking at

Community Member

Four years later and we're still asking for this feature.  Students should not have to click "View Feedback" and then resize a window to see how their work was received.  You've created a robust feature in the annotation system.  Why hide it?  Students should see exactly what we see when we mark their papers - a full size view with easy to see comments.  Canvas is so close to being an outstanding course shell.  Please fix this problem.

I agree with another poster who wrote that we don't want students focusing on the numeric.  Feedback is where true teaching comes into play.  To make it difficult to see sends the wrong message to students who are already obsessed with rubrics and grades.

Community Explorer

This thread is pointing at more than one problem: the visibility of feedback for students, with all its well known flaws  -- and the structural failure of @Instructure to respond to honestly given, tangible, actionable feedback from its users.  800+ "votes up" over 4 years and it's still "on the radar" -- or not even... How disappointing.  What is the holdup in addressing this?

Am I somehow framing this wrong -- aren't we just trying to help them improve their product?

Community Contributor

I agree 1000%...this is getting EXTREMELY frustrating, considering how long people have been complaining about this issue without any tangible response except for "We'll be considering it next quarter." I'm not a programmer, but it seems as if the fix could be done with little trouble...even making the "View Feedback" button bigger and more visible would go a LONG way toward solving this problem. Come on,'s long past time for you to DO something about this.

Community Novice

I use a Subject page with ICONS (numbered)... where students can work their way independently through levels of study. I would love it if (when the assignment is graded) the icon had a TICK, or a SMILEY, or a !mark! if there is teacher feedback, or some other mark if this assignment requires more attention. Sorry if this is seperate idea -- but my (young) students see the Subject page daily - and it has no way to show them which tasks they have and have not completed satisfactorily. 

Community Contributor

So I'm trying to help another instructor who hasn't yet given up on the Rich Text editor for essay comments, and I see that in the help videos you have something about how to leave comments (instructors) and how to peer review (students) but nothing that shows students how to find the "feedback" button. I'm sure at least fifty such videos exist. Could you post one to the "help" section so that we could show our students the various steps necessary to access these comments (since you don't seem interested in making them more obvious)? 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks, Steve. I've passed that video comment on to our documentation team.

Our product team is still interested in making this feature a reality. They've been working on some internal reorganization that should allow teams to pick up feature ideas more quickly. We're excited for this change! Some teams will be in a place to start more work starting in January, and others February and March.



Community Novice

also - if students respond to a comment that a teachers posts using speed grader, the teacher isn't notified that this happens and will presumably never see the message.