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

One form of feedback that is not at all visible to students in the new gradebook is any attachment added within speedgrader. might interest you because it proposes to correct that

Community Explorer

I agree. It would be very helpful for students to get a notification that feedback has been given on their assignment.

Community Novice

I just want to bring this to notice, I made a new UI mockup over at

I'm wondering if this will provide a better experience. 

I also desire something like it to be implemented for the doc viewer too, though I didn't mock that one up due to how long it takes to do. Happy to make one though, if I can spare some time.


Community Novice

I find that one of the problems with Canvas, as opposed to, for example, Blackboard is that the information is spread all over, split into different locations and sometimes the information here does not match the information there (modules or assignments vs, syllabi, for example). It makes it difficult to navigate. 

Community Explorer

As it stands right now, students need to view "Recent Feedback" in the lower right corner of the home page to view their graded submissions (My institution does not recommend enabling "Grades" in the course navigation due to Canvas grades being different from our SIS Grades). 

"Recent Feedback" is WAY too small and can easily be missed if a student has a long to-do list of late/missing assignments.

I like how recently, Canvas released Confetti to pop up on the screen when a student submits an assignment on time. Can we do something like that for feedback?

For example, say a student completes an assignment on Tuesday, teacher grades it on Wednesday. Then, the next time the student logs in, can there be a pop up from the home page that says "Hey! Since you last logged in, your teacher graded and left feedback on THESE assignments. Click on the name of the assignment in this pop up to review your grade/feedback!"

I think that could help make it MUCH more obvious to students.

Community Contributor

Juliz' idea is a GREAT one...but then, in the last FOUR YEARS many great ideas about solving this problem have come and gone...gone, I presume, into some Black Hole in Canvas Realm where ideas go to die. For a while, we were getting feedback from Canvas administrators that the idea would be "considered"...then "addressed"...and even "implemented"...but NOTHING. And now we're at the end of another semester, and we all remain like voices crying in the wilderness. Canvas is a great program...but this one flaw makes the entire program exasperating for students and faculty alike.

Community Explorer

This is the same thing as the comment I made in the following idea post: 

The student interface is extremely important. Thank you for bringing this up. I hope they make these changes soon because my students are often confused and missing crucial comments. 

Community Novice

I'd like to see the students be able to view the annotated feedback, rubric, and instructor comment window all in one place and under one click. This screen could look similar to the view instructors have in the Speed-Grader.

Community Novice

Amen to this. I've been requesting this for a long time. Worded beautifully— just make it look similar to the view instructors have in Speed Grader. I've also requested drag and drop proofreader marks to markup writing assignments.

Community Member

Another crazy thing about this is that as an instructor I had NO IDEA my students weren't seeing their feedback because I assumed that they would see more or less the same screen I see when I'm giving it. I was getting really angry with students because I spend HOURS giving feedback on essays, and they weren't incorporating it into their revisions. I thought maybe they thought I don't even read the essays, so they were just being lazy and trying to pull one over on me. 

In my mind it's just common sense to make viewing ANY communications I have with students as obvious and easy as possible. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to be able to figure out how to view feedback. Another issue is that it's not visible through the phone app. Some of my students don't have access to computers and do all their work on the phone. They should be able to see their feedback too.