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 Explorer

This idea needs to be resurfaced and implemented in 2021.  A huge benefit to students is the feedback they receive from instructors.  This information is buried. 

My one line suggestion:  "Feedback:  Canvas Generated Inbox Message with hotlink."  Detail:  Canvas to generate an automatic Inbox message and send to the student anytime that an instructor leaves feedback on an assignment (text, annotation, audio, video).  The system-generated message should give the student a "one-click" to reach the page containing the feedback - probably the Grading page would be best.

The same type of system-generated message to come to an instructor when any student leaves any feedback on an assignment.

Community Explorer

Yes!  Please make this change!!

I agree with absolutely everything said here about the importance of ensuring students see all the feedback for an assignment in one place!  This formative feedback is the heart of instruction and is intended to move the student forward and support them in understanding the content at a deeper level so it needs to be readily accessible and visible all in one place.  This view is available for instructors, so it should be possible to provide it for students as well.

I wanted to 'bump' this example from YEARS ago that shows the discrepancy between the teacher and student view  - 



Community Explorer


Community Member

Student feedback advises that viewing written feedback in rubrics is not particularly accessible. In both student view and when staff access rubrics from assignments, the rubric is restricted to a small window within the wider Canvas page, meaning the text is small and staff/students have to scroll left to right to read comments in full.

At least in Speedgrader the pane can be expanded but the text remains very small. In browser zoom functionality is somewhat helpful but overall the experience of navigating rubrics for feedback purposes feels quite poor, especially for those with accessibility requirements.

This suggestion relates to the viewing of rubrics in browser, not the Canvas app.

Community Member

As an English Teacher, feedback on essays is critical in the learning process.  Is there any way that Canvas can make feedback on documents more visible and more easily accessed? The current mode of clicking on the original assignment, then seeking the "more details" link, which is very small, then finding the "view feedback" link, also very small, the student is rewarded with a preview box that is too small to view the feedback. There is the option to expand that preview box, but the feedback does not appear to take the same size that it does for the instructor.  It would be excellent if feedback on docs could be prioritized in another section of the Canvas Page (say another category that would pop up in a student's feed or sit on the left as a common link.  Then, when an assignment's feedback is posted, it would be great if it simply appeared after one click in the original size, as it appears for the instructor. Any chance that could happen?  Thanks for considering!

Community Explorer

I continue to press for instructor feedback to made VERY VISIBLE to students.  Looking back through this thread, it has been requested for years.  It is so unfortunate that feedback is buried - so much teacher energy has been spent providing valuable feedback to students - that they never saw.

One colleague of mine made the following comment and asked that I relay it in all caps, so here goes:  "TEACHER FEEDBACK TO STUDENTS IS TOP PRIORITY - STOP MAKING IT INTO AN EASTER EGG GAME FOR STUDENTS."

(sorry for the caps, but they insisted, along with a pretty cynical view that any suggestions here will be ignored... so I hope Canvas will respond on this thread and provide a timeline/improvement which moves instructor feedback to the forefront) 

Community Explorer

Instructure need to get their act together. These suggestions should not be difficult to implement code-wise, at least in a partial way. E.g. "View Feedback" is highlighted in a color when there is feedback. The original post of 5+ years ago was well-focussed and easy to understand (regardless what the first reply says); a teacher is generously doing Instructure's work for them here. Crickets?

Community Explorer

P.S. I have had to make instructional videos for my students walking them through how to access feeback. Even then it is hard for some to remember. Not good. It is also extra difficult to access feedback if the Gradebook is not made visible to students (which is not desirable in all cases).

Community Participant

The feedback "streams" need to be integrated more. If I make any kind of feedback available -  a comment on a submission or a grade using a rubric or markup in docviewer- and the student clicks somewhere to read that feedback, they should be shown all of the feedback available at the same time.  Maybe like a feedback dashboard that can show them all their feedback on a single assignment without having to click multiple times. I realize that their grades view almost does this, but it doesn't give them the option to view their docviewer markup without clicking out to another page and then clicking "view feedback" again. It can get pretty confusing.

Community Explorer

Excellent ideas!