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

enable ability to download grade with comments so that font is not reduced in size 

Community Member

Yes please - how do I vote for this feature request.

I support the request for a consolidated view of feedback text made highly visible to the student, plus a big link to in-ext comments if present.


Community Member

Dear canvas,

why haven't you fixed this yet. are you trying to wear us down? cause us to give up on everything? this is the most basic thing: letting students view the feedback.

it should be the most pressing project right now. Nothing else. FIX IT PLZZZZZZZ.

Community Member

but of course this request has been here since literally 2015, so clearly it will never get fixed.

what kind of a service do you think you are offering if it's a learning management system and students cannot easily view the feedback from their teachers... you know, to aid their learning?

Community Member

I've just made instruction for students to help them find the feedback. Feedback is a key tool for learning. This is meant to be a learning management system, we should make it easy for them, not hard. There is a micro-font version of the general comments under the submission, I suggest you add a button right there to see detailed feedback, then programmatically work out if the feedback is in the rubric or the text and build a page that shows any single or all three sources if present.

Here's the overly-complicated instructions for my students:

  1. Select your assessment from the list of assessments.
  2. Click Submission Details

View submission details.png

3. Click the teeny-tiny View Feedback link

View feedback.png

4. Look, there's feedback in the text and a general summary.

The feedback.png

5. Make a note of the things you need to practice to improve next time.



Community Explorer

I absolutely agree with this suggestion, and I think it's silly to ask the person to narrow down to one idea, because the idea that feedback should be more visible to students overall can't be achieved by one of those things alone. 

This website is such a perfect example of how annoying it is to hunt fruitlessly for information. I can't even find the place to vote on this and to post the topic that I want to suggest (I didn't even come here to read this...I have a suggestion I want to make). 

Overall, Canvas needs to make things a lot easier to find both in Canvas and here in the help/support pages. 

Community Participant

I totally agree, I walk my students through how to read feedback for my class multiple times a year because it is so unintuitive for them. I even have multiple tutorial videos available and they still get lost trying to read feedback. I mostly grade off rubrics too so it can be a little frustrating on both sides when I write really detailed comments for a student on what to fix and they email me asking what to fix because they don't remember how to access the rubric. Making this less cumbersome, especially for on assignment comments is really important moving forward.

Community Explorer

How crazy is it that it is closing in on SEVEN years since this thread was started and nothing has been done to make it easier for students to view instructor feedback? 

Community Contributor

@byoung86 - Canvas was sold to us as more intuitive for staff and students - there are basics that the majority of users use very frequently - like you i despair of the lack of movement on this issue. But also on all VLEs poor design around feedback. its not secondary to the learning content - it is the learning

Community Explorer

@byoung86 - Exactly. I pretty much hate Canvas and if I had a choice, I'd use something else. No idea why it's leading in LMS platform of choice. I haven't found one single thing to be intuitive and neither have my students.  I liked Blackboard much better back in the day. 

Student view should be the SAME as Teacher view in all cases so that we know their exact experience and are setting things up with them in mind. The only difference needs to be permissions, not the actual layout.