Best way to hide a student's assignment upload after they've already submitted it?

Community Member

Hi there, 

I'm looking for a very specific kind of function and unsure whether or not there's a good way to do what I'm looking for in Canvas. 

I teach AP U.S. History and one of the key kinds of assessments is the DBQ (Document-Based-Question). The students are asked to write a time-constrained essays responding to a historical question while using 7 documents to use, analyze, and present as evidence in their response. We do plenty of scaffolding of this skillset/assignment type throughout the year, but one of my main assignments each quarter is one of these essays, and by semester 2, I usually have them practicing the real circumstances of the AP exam, i.e. not giving them the prompt ahead of time and following the timing specifications to a T. 

We do this on paper as our school still opts for the paper-based AP exam, so I want them to get used to writing their essays by hand, marking up the docs with pen/paper etc. I realized awhile ago though that I do my best grading electronically and on my iPad, so what I started having them do was as follows:

  • Students write their DBQ in an essay blue book for 1 hour
  • At the end of the hour, everyone scans in their handwritten responses as a PDF and uploads that to Canvas 
  • I then click "download all submissions" as a zip file, annotate them one-by-one giving feedback/grading, then use the "re-upload all submissions" when complete to the same assignment so that each student gets a marked up copy of my annotations. It's worked relatively well so far, and I love that it triggers the "to do" list on my teacher portal to remind me that I have all those essays to grade when a regular paper copy doesn't, and I tend to put them off!


The Problem

  • I recently realized that students between class blocks or for those who need to do the assessment as a make-up now can EASILY see the essays of their peers, as any student in the class could very easily just go into Canvas and pull open their "submitted assignment" to show the prompt to other students who have yet to take the DBQ in class
  • I know that I could mitigate this a bit by just giving each class a different prompt and document set, but I dislike this because 1) it creates a lot more work for me 2) makes grading a bit more difficult as I have to re-set what I'm looking for/the ideal rubric for each class and 3) changes how valid/reliable the grading is for each class, as some prompts/doc sets will have been covered more extensively than others in class and students may struggle more or less with certain prompts. I'd rather keep it universal, if possible 

Solutions I'm Seeking/Thinking About 

  • If there was a simple way to toggle "hide assignment submission from students until graded" kind of setting, this would solve my problem. Students can in their responses on a different device, so if the upload was ONLY viewable in their Canvas profiles, but I've manually hidden that for the selected assignment, it would prevent student A who took the assessment that morning from simply emailing or showing student B their PDF upload the essay over lunch and giving Student B an unfair advantage (the whole point is to assess how well students can quickly use/dissect historical primary source evidence to support an analysis, so it skews the assessment completely). 
  • I thought about using "Quizzes" because I know you can hide their responses for this...? I think there's a "PDF" upload button you can use. However, I'm not sure if I can then "download all submissions" the same way. 

Is there a better way to hide their submissions from them until after grades are released or after some time setting I can implement? Thank you! 

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