Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
New Member


Jump to solution

I am writing in reference to the check box marked "calculate only based on graded assignments" that appears on individual student grade summary; the "Grades for ____(name)___"  report.  I used a points system, and the ONLY point total that matters (and therefore the only percentage that matters) is their final point total.  I do not want the grades to be "calculated based only on graded assignments" because  this often makes the percentage score higher than it should be.   I have students who don't hear it when I say that the percentages they see on those "Grades for" reports are incorrect because they are based only on your scores for completed items.  In other words, a student may have completed only a fraction of the course work, but if they completed 3 out of 10 quizzes and got full points on all three, they will think they are getting an A because they earned 100% of the points they attempted.  Never mind that they didn't do the other 7 quizzes, the term paper, exams, other work, etc...     Is there a way to turn this off... I can click it off while viewing the grade report... but I want that to be the default...  and I certainly don't want students who have completed 20% of the coursework to think they will  pass the course because their Grade Summary says they have 80%...  (i.e. 80% of the 20% they completed)...   Please advise.  Thank you.  

1 Solution
Community Coach
Community Coach

As far as I'm aware there is no way to turn this off. My recommendation is that if you really want students to view their grade this way then you should go through and set the default grade for every assignment as 0. This would give the students an accurate grade in the course at all times. 

View solution in original post

24 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

As far as I'm aware there is no way to turn this off. My recommendation is that if you really want students to view their grade this way then you should go through and set the default grade for every assignment as 0. This would give the students an accurate grade in the course at all times. 

Community Team
Community Team

 @flora_woratsche , my workflow over the semester included entering 0 grades for each assignment, discussion, and quiz the day after the graded activity was due. If it was an assignment or discussion, I entered zeros as part of normal grading through SpeedGrader; if it was a quiz, I entered the zeros directly into the Gradebook. If you have a large number of zeros to enter for a particular assignment, you can apply a default grade to that assignment through the Gradebook by following the instructions in  


I totally get what you are saying about entering 0 grades after an assignment is due.. but I baffled as to why, when I specifically set my gradebook to points rather than percentages, the system still calculates percentages rather than simply adding up the points earned at any given point. In other words, I can set my "defaults" to accommodate the system that calculates a percentage when I've already told that system I don't want percentages.... OR, the system could be corrected so that it default to points only when "points" have been selected rather than percentages...simply add up the points earned so far.. .and simply leave those percentages out of the student's grade summary altogether. Why even have that check box marked "calculate only based on graded assignments" that appears on that individual student grade summary if I can't "uncheck" it and have it stay "unchecked"? In the meantime, I suppose I will have to set all my defaults to 0... I assumed I was just missing a setting in the system somehow, not that the system couldn't even be set to "points only"... Let's continue this conversation, though.. I think Canvas should know about this issue... Smiley Happy Thank you everyone.

The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best. - Thomas Sowell

 @flora_woratsche ‌ are you referring to the scores shown for weighted assignment groups and the final grade?

The values for the weighted assignment groups are based on percentages, the value represents the percentage of points earned based on points available.

The final grade is based on the grading scheme, which is also based on percentages.

Thinking about how the math works, it makes sense to me that these values would be represented by percentages.

That being said, I can definitely see how displaying the points accumulated for each weighted assignment group would be very helpful, both to the instructor and to the student.  The final grade shows both the percent and the letter grade.  It seems that it would be possible for Canvas to display the point value for each of the weighted assignment groups, as well as the percent (they must already have the value queued up since the calculated the percentage, right?).  This should be a simple change as it involves no new calculations or new logic on the backend.  Have you considered creating a new idea to promote this view of the grades?

I wish there was a way to either make this .... box disappear or at least NOT checked by default. Students have a tendency of seeing what they want to see. In my classes, it is possible to earn extra credit, and quite a few students do NOT need to take the final exam. Yet Canvas insists on showing them a score which is higher than their actual score because the final is not graded yet and therefore their score should be calculated as if they did not earn anything on the final. I can, of course, post 0 as the grade for the final, but then students will keep asking me why they have 0 for the final they haven't taken yet. The logic of this box completely escapes me. 

It is totally upside down to start with a grade close to 100% and make it decrease through the course. It is more logical to start from 0 and build it up to 100%.

In the old and rather inconvenient BlackBoard system we, at least, had the option to hide the total from students altogether and create our own column which would be shown to students as their total. Canvas, otherwise very flexible and 100 light years ahead of BlackBoard, should extend that flexibility to calculation of grades.

Community Champion

This is turning out to be a common misunderstanding among faculty that I work with.  In fact, looking at several gradebooks at the end of this Spring 2017 semester, I realize it is a bigger misunderstanding than I realized.  

I get it, if the instructor doesn't enter a grade, what is Canvas supposed to do, assume a zero?  But maybe the student has been given an extension, thus the grade simply hasn't been entered yet.  

Automatically grade the students with zero's after the due date?  But maybe the instructor just hasn't gotten around to grading yet, this is a common scenario.

Should Canvas "assume" grades for a student?  

Or should the instructor be in control of the grades as he/she sees fit?

In my opinion, a student who sees a zero will be more motivated than the student who sees an empty grade.

The empty grade suggests that the assignment can still be turned in, and that they have not yet been evaluated.

A zero strongly suggests that the student has been evaluated, and they are not getting credit.

Big difference, particularly if you have parents monitoring progress.

How do you effectively communicate to instructors the importance of entering zero's to clearly communicate a student's grade?

This is a great subject, I look forward to this conversation, thank you for posting.

I'm glad you brought that up,  @garth . Entering a zero promptly was always an important part of my process. If students have their grade notifications set to "right away," they'll get a quick wake-up call. And since I used a weighted assignment group gradebook, they immediately see the impact on their grades, regardless of how their notifications are set. Last, it often prompted the student to contact me, thereby opening a dialog and promoting engagement.

Community Coach
Community Coach

We send email reminders to faculty throughout the semester with this information. It really is in faculty and students best interest to have the zero in place of the student didn't do an assignment. Otherwise the student isn't seeing an accurate grade and can't make appropriate decisions about studying, getting help/tutoring, or even dropping the class. 

Community Champion

You can hide the total from the students. This will also turn off the only graded/add graded option as well.  

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there,  @flora_woratsche ‌...

I wanted to check in with you because I noticed there hasn't been any new activity in this particular discussion topic since May 9th.  Have you had an opportunity to review all the above feedback that you've received?  If so, did one of those replies help to answer your question?  Or, are there still questions you have as it relates to your initial question?  If you feel that one of the above responses has helped to answer your question, please feel free to mark it as "Correct".  However, if you are still looking for some help and feedback, please come back to this thread to post an update so that members of the Canvas Community can continue to help you.  For now, since there hasn't been any new activity in this discussion topic for almost two months, I am going to mark your question as "Assumed Answered", but that won't prevent you or others from asking questions or posting additional comments related to your question.  I hope that's okay with you, Flora.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

I believe I got the answer that it's not possible to do what I wish to do, but other suggestions were made. Thank you

Flora R. Woratschek

Sociology Instructor

Department of Human Behavior

College of Southern Nevada

North Las Vegas Campus S 121-A

Mobile: (702) 659-3404 (voice or text)


Co-Advisor, Living Sociology Club


The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best. - Thomas Sowell

No question is not answered!

0 Kudos
New Member

I have to say that this is one of the biggest and most annoying of the countless flaws that I have found with the garbage LMS called Canvas. I am a software developer and a full-time computer science instructor, and have complained countlessly about how inferior Canvas is to Moodle, and this is yet another example. 

Here is why solutions suggested for this problem here do not work for me:

1) I do not enforce deadlines, a student can turn in things at any time for a full credit in my classes.

2) I want my students to see their total grade, and have already set the "Treat ungraded as 0" in the gradebook.

3) I teach many classes and do not want to go through 400+ assignments to "Set default grade" in each of them to 0.

I hope all of you urge your community colleges to abandon this for-profit scam of a CMS software and switch back to the open-source Moodle that we had successfully been using for nearly a decade! Canvas is making a profit from us, yet they ignore our needs/requirements.

I understand that Canvas makes it easy for our IT people as it reduces their work, but it actually opens up hundreds of hours of extra work for us the instructors, and confuses and misleads our students all the time.

The Canvas software developers (who seem clueless about teaching a class) who designed yet another useless misleading feature in Canvas, need to have their feet held to the fire and respond to their customers(us) who "REQUIRE" that the useless "Calculate based only on graded assignments" checkbox BE TURNED OFF, as it CONFUSES OUR STUDENTS.

246578_Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 4.19.35 AM.png

I teach my Computer Science students that if they do not write their programs according to the customer requirements, they will get fired or not get paid, yet Canvas gets away with doing just that!

Best thing to do for all of us is to actually talk to your colleges to Dump Canvas, and go back to Moodle. This is my professional opinion as an educator who has been using Moodle for 6 years, and as a software developer who has written software for over a decade. I am seriously sick and tired of Canvas.  What takes 1 click in Moodle takes 6-7 or a Hundred clicks in Canvas. It's a joke!

Hey  @nulldreamer  Welcometo the Community! I'm a fellow Canvas user just like yourself and in my time here in the Community, I've observed and participated in quite a few discussions about this and I fully expect the discussions to continue and for Canvas to keep listening. This is not just for users benefit, Canvas understands the importance of listening to user feedback, especially when it's constructive and supportive. There are some great things happening with Priority: Gradebook Enhancements‌ and a some buzz from this years instcon 2017 about the new features. I'll leave a few links to some things that may be of interest to you here.

Gradebook Enhancements: Design Rationale 

InstCon0017 Product Announcements 

How You Can Support Gradebook Enhancements | 

Day 02 - New Gradebook: Phase 1 

As a software developer and full-time computer science instructor I'm betting that you have spent considerable amount of time interacting with folks online and in online communities. You might even speak to some of this in your Computer Science programs. I'm concerned that some of your passion and frustration is going to make it harder for folks to hear and understand your pain points with Canvas though. I would personally strongly disagree with statements such as "garbage LMS" and "for-profit scam" and I fear those types of remarks are going to be challenges to a productive conversation. How would you advise your students to communicate within teams to critique software and suggest improvements? How would you advise them to communicate with you if they had an issue with your teaching or your course? In our courses, we often reference netiquette for our students.

In this community there are guidelines as well, What are the Canvas Community guidelines? #1 on that list is "be cool: It’s OK to be critical and express frustration from time-to-time, but rudeness is not acceptable. Always treat others with respect. We’re in this together." That includes the human beings who work hard to make the best software they can. You can surely identify with how hard this can be and how unhelpful it is if users are disrespectful of the work you've done rather than being constructive and supportive in their feedback. 

I hope that we can all continue working together to help improve Canvas and improve the helpfulness of this community. This is a community of diverse users with a diverse set of perspectives and that is awesome! From laurakgibbs‌ who tries to use the LMS and grades as little as possible to  @James ‌ who is an expert at working within the current set of functionality and finding his own ways to bend the software to his will. These two users are #2 and #3 in the community not for how much they use or adore the software, but because of how both of them are able to find ways to be helpful in their own ways.

Community Champion

awilliams‌ good response, nicely done sir.


Hi  @nulldreamer ‌ , and thanks to awilliams‌ for the ping. I totally understand being frustrated with the limitations of an LMS (any LMS, including Moodle), and I've always been an LMS-minimalist, using different tools that suit my needs better than an LMS ever could. I mean, seriously, how could anybody expect to build a single software system that is going to meet every need of every teacher? But instead of getting mad at the LMS, I just look for other tools that will help me to do my job, based on my goals and practices as a teacher.

The way I make the Gradebook work for me is by having my students record the grades; I don't do any grading myself because my time is far (far far FAR) better spent giving them feedback as opposed to recording numbers in a spreadsheet. And my students are happy with that solution too. I'm not saying that solution would work for you, but I would suggest that it's always good to try to find a solution that will work for you, and to use the community as a way to brainstorm solutions. 

Personally, I've received so much help from the people here at the Community with ideas, brainstorming, and teaching inspiration. The Community here is mostly just Canvas users, and the reason they are here is because they are helping one another in the spirit of teaching-and-learning generosity. And if you are looking for people who know about teaching, you will find plenty of such people here.

And the engineers at Canvas DO listen to users... the whole feature request process, release notes, etc. demonstrate that clearly. But even if they did decide to adopt one of my suggestions (and I've made a few feature requests), I know that it would be a year or more to see a major change, and even small changes (like the way they removed the color overlay from the course cards based on user requests) took about months before it was fully implemented in production. As a computer engineer, you understand how that goes: an international platform with users in the millions (I guess it is millions? I'm not sure) has a complex production process. Even though they use the Agile approach at Canvas, it will always be faster to find your own solutions.

And if you want to brainstorm about that here, you will find plenty of people with a lot of Canvas experience (way more experience than me) who can help with that. But some good will is required; like Adam said, angry hyperbole is not a good way to get a productive conversation going.

Thank you  @nulldreamer ‌! As a math professor I grade in a similar fashion. While entering 0s make work for others, it has the opposite effect on my students based on how I allow work to be submitted and how I grade work. This is simply ridiculous. If I change the setting in my own grade book, it should change the equivalent setting in the student view. Anything else is simply poor programming. The fact that there is no universal way to do this AT ALL, is even more abhorrent. I've spent the better part of an afternoon dealing with students and attempting to explain the issue. They are even more annoyed with me when I explain that Canvas has no method of changing this setting. (They assume I am stupid or lazy and unable to find the appropriate place to do so. I know this as I've seen multiple comments to this effect already.)

0 Kudos

Hey akaestner Welcometo the Community! I am glad you have joined us and have found some common ground with other users already. I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with some student frustration over grades. Is this a relatively new course to Canvas? There can often be bumps along the way in the beginning but the Community can help a lot with that.

The issue raised here is one that has been being discussed at length for years by Canvas users. In fact, here is a comment I made 2.5 years ago in support of a change. Faculty want a faster way to deal with late, missing, or otherwise ungraded work and that was not how the "Treat Ungraded as Zero" tool was ever designed or intended to be used. There are plenty of places in the Community you can see this being discussed, but here is a notable one,

What you can do now:

If you are willing to perform an action on a "per assignment" basis, you can use this method: 

How do I set a default grade for an assignment? 

If you need to be able to affect multiple assignments at once, you can export the gradebook, make changes in  spreadsheet software, and upload the changes:

How do I download grades from the Gradebook? 

How do I upload changes to the Gradebook? 

Alternatively, if you are comfortable with computer programming, you can use the API:

How do I make API calls in an account with an access token?

What you can do soon:

As I was mentioning to Alexandre in my response, there has been much work going on with the gradebook including, but not limited to, the ability to This feature has been developed and is now being tested. You can learn more and even get involved at Priority: Gradebook Enhancements‌.

Again, thank you for taking the time to join us and let us know how things are going. It might not always be sunshine and roses out there but with a few thousands friends around to help, one can get through most things.

New Member

Again, I am a full-time Computer Science instructor who has used LMS(Learning Management Systems) for 6 years, and gotten paid to write software for 16 years. I teach more classes and more units than most of you can imagine, and can only do so with the aid of a good LMS. A LMS helps me work smart not hard, reduces my work and minimize my work. As a computer scientist,  I write and use software which improves my productivity.

When I write a software for my customers, who pay me, I am obligated to listen to my customers, and create a software that matches their needs, asap. If a customer has a program "requirement" I have to satisfy it and write a software that meets the requirement precisely as the customer wants it, not the way I feel like it. What you need to understand is that Canvas is a for-profit software, who is making profit from all of us (a few people are becoming rich, while you are defending an inferior product). If we the customers, who are paying them, have requirements, such as to turn a misleading checkbox off (as indicated by this thread), it is their software developers' job/responsibility/obligation to meet our requirements. This is not optional. I can tell you that  disabling this simple checkbox feature is very easy!!

Why would our student want to see their grades calculated incorrectly, and be mislead about their class grade by default??

If my students have a program which has requirements that ask them to "write a program that shows the average of all grades", and a student writes a program that calculates the grades wrong, my students will get an "F" on that programming assignment, with my feedback "does not calculate grades correctly, needs to include all grades, not just some of them, please fix and resubmit and I'll regrade it giving you full credit". As I tell my students, "if your program does not meet my requirements, you will not get paid". Every paid software developer is held to this standard.

Moodle is an open source (Free!) software that was developed, and perfected for 15+ years by a community of educators, who did  not get paid for doing so unlike Canvas (only thing you pay for with Moodle is the host/server, and it is cheaper to pay for server than to pay for someone to develop your software and to also host it). Moodle worked flawlessly for the CA CC system for nearly a decade. Sure it had issues, but those were always easily and quickly resolved and there was always a work-around, unlike Canvas. I never had countless issues that I could not resolve as I do with Canvas.

The "scam" that I am referring to is that the CA CC system was "sold" on buying an inferior product, which (judging by this thread) does not meet our basic needs. Hundreds of colleges replaced a superior software which was free, with an inferior software which is for profit. The CA community college system was ill-informed to switch to Canvas and abandon a perfectly good (free software) Moodle, which served educators' needs perfectly well for nearly a decade. By doing so, Instructure now has a monopoly over the CA CC system market, and has for the first time become cash flow positive. The CA CC system decided to switch to Canvas in June 2017, and look at their stock price since then:  

246626_Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 3.22.43 AM.png

"You get what you pay for" is the saying, and I don't mind paying for a software, as long as I am getting what I paid for. One of the main reasons to be using a LMS is to "minimize" our work, and to help guide our students through their class work. The gradebook is one of the main features that I need from any LMS. Otherwise, I could easily build a web page where I post my course content by weeks, and have students upload assignments to Google drive or Drop box (which is what I was actually doing in the early days of my teaching career). Having a good gradebook is the main reason why I started using a LMS. If I have an unusable gradebook, which is misleading students with features like the one that we are discussing here, there is no point of using such LMS!

The paid-for Canvas has opened up countless hours of more work for me compared to the free Moodle, and managed to confuse students. I literally have had to file "grade change forms" because of this misleading feature that we are discussing in this thread.  I need a gradebook that works as I want it, not as Canvas wants it. I want the ability to turn off or disable the "calculate-based-only-on-graded-assignments" checkbox, which is the purpose of this entire thread, really!  Simple as that. Canvas needs to get their act together, and you need not defend their poorly designed feature with suggestions that open more work for you, or focus on my choice of words or my "netiquette".  I am actually trying to improve their poorly designed/tested software, and we are all serving as their free "beta testers"

I'll say it again, lobby your college to abandon the for-profit Canvas and switch back to the open source Moodle. You'll be doing yourself and your students both a favor, it is for the greater good.

Would it make sense to set up your own Moodle instance? I am an LMS minimalist and rely on a blog network for my classes, but if I wanted/needed an LMS and felt as you do, then I'm guessing that I would just run my own Moodle instance in my own webspace and copy the grades over at the end of the semester. My school has a Domain of One's Own service from ReclaimHosting, and I know some people are running Moodle instances as part of that service. Reclaim is great!

Reclaim Hosting | Take Control of your Digital Identity 

Anyway, I offer this suggestion simply because my goal is always to find solutions that word for my students, and to find those solutions quickly. That doesn't mean I don't express my opinions about the tech big picture, but at the same time, I will do whatever it takes to make sure my students have the tech we need (in my case, it's about having blogging software, an RSS aggregator for the network, etc.). 

P.S.  @nulldreamer ‌ is this you?

Alex Stoykov | Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey 

At the Domains17 conference in June, I met some people from Middlebury-Monterey, and there is a DoOO / Reclaim Hosting project running for Middlebury (including Monterey); in fact, they are real leaders in this! Maybe they will be able to help. 

Hi Laura,

You offer a good suggestion. I have considered running/paying for Moodle on my own server rather than using Canvas.

Setting up a Moodle server is relatively cheap and very easy.

I have two servers/hosts running Moodle.

You can one of them at

I have used this approach in the past for one of the schools where I taught part-time (30-60 students), who did not use Moodle, but a LMS called "etudes".

However, the problem is that I teach about 280 students per semester (and have many classes and even more sections) in the college where I teach full-time. My full-time college deals with enrolling and un-enrolling students int the LMS automatically who add and drop my classes during the semester, which is the main reason I am using Canvas. We were just forced to switch to Canvas from Moodle this Summer, the college (as most other CA CC's) had been using Moodle for about 7-8 years before that.

If I used Moodle on my server in my full-time college: 

1) I would have to manually enroll and un-enroll every student from every class section who added and dropped my class, which is very time consuming.  I would have to constantly check our school system to see who added and dropped my classes. Otherwise, I will have to write my own software to somehow automate that task for me, which is time consuming, something that I just don't have time to do right now. Also the school system has issues with user authentication.

2) I will have to pay $800 per year of out of my own pocket to host this many active users on a Moodle host, which I would honestly gladly pay if (1) wasn't an issue.

Please keep in mind that considering the number of students and classes that I teach (and the topic that I teach), I rely heavily on a LMS to help reduce and automate my work. When I first started teaching, and was doing a far lesser load, I was using Google Spreadsheet as my gradebook, but quickly found out that it is much less work to use Moodle's gradebook (which also offer a much better feedback/submission options for students, so that they know how they are doing in the class). I have tried several other LMS (etudes, blackboad, canvas), in the past, all of which I found to be far inferior to Moodle.

P.S. Yes, I teach graduate classes part-time at Middlebury in Monterey as well, have not heard of ReclaimHosting before. If I can enroll students into Moodle from Canvas somehow, you have saved the day!

 @nulldreamer  I absolutely understand the bureaucratic advantages of the LMS for rosters and synch enrollment! I only teach around 100 students each semester, so I don't really mind having to go through and subscribe everybody to my RSS, set up the randomizers I use for group assignments, etc. etc. I would have a hard time getting my blog network up and running if I were doing that kind of manual work for hundreds of students each semester.

Anyway, I hope you will find a good solution. The guys at Reclaim are AMAZING; it is a web-hosting service with faculty and students in mind. I rely on the https service that they provide because any content I want to share with people through Canvas has to be https, and with my Reclaim domain it is super-easy for me to turn on https. That has been something really useful to me as my school moved to Canvas this past year, and I wanted to share my content with other Canvas users, even while I do all my own work via blogs and websites outside Canvas.

Good luck for the new semester!