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Community Member

Set a Total Points Limit in an Assignment Group?

I am using a straight points system in my Gradebook. I have several assignment groups. for one of which I would like to limit the total number of points that can be earned. 

For example...

In this assignment group there might be 10 low point assignments available. These assignments are not required, but students can choose to complete any of these extra assignments across the semester to boost their grade. Some are online quizzes, some are paper submissions. The point value for these individual assignments will vary, but full points for all of these assignments would total 120 points. I would like to somehow 'tell' the Gradebook to count only up to 90 of these points in this assignment group, and to ignore the rest. Is this possible in Canvas?

9 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @kimberly_smith1 , unfortunately, no, there really isn’t a way to do this other than manually going through the gradebook and putting in an EX for any assignment (in this group) over the 90 points.

Sorry there isn’t a better way to do this. 


Community Champion

 @kimberly_smith1 ,


You could make an extra assignment called "Bonus Adjustment" or "Bonus Cap" or something reflective of its purpose. Make it worth 0 points. Then go through and enter negative points to bring anyone over 90 points back down to 90 points. Be sure you explain to the students what you're doing.

This will keep the points originally awarded. Excusing them as Kona suggested will remove them and lose the score and possibly reduce the total below 90 points. For example, if someone has a 91 and you excuse the lowest grade, which happens to be 5 points, then they only get 86.

Hello  @kona  ,

Thank you for letting me know.  I tell students that the maximum is 90 points for that group in the Syllabus. But I will probably also go in and add a note to the instructions for each of the assignments in that group. The sad thing is that so many students don't read those instructions (or the Syllabus) carefully - so they are quite unhappy when points they had seen in their Gradebook Total get removed at the end of the semester. The alternative, of course, is to only offer up to 90 points in that group. But that reduces flexibility, and the opportunity for those who may not have done well on some of those assignments to make up those points by doing a bit of extra work. It would just be so much better if those 'over 90' points never made it into the Gradebook.

Hello  @James  ,

Thank you for your suggestion. I hadn't actually considered adding that as an "assignment" in that group at the beginning of the semester. That seems a great idea! It might get more attention from the students up front, and across the semester. What I had been doing is adding that negative points column at the end of the semester - but students get so disappointed when points they had seen in their Gradebook disappear at the end of the semester (even though I explain this 'max 90' rule in the Syllabus, discuss it in class the first week, and send every student with over 90 points an email near the end of the semester beffore adding the negative points column to the Gradebook. Adding that "assignment coulmn to the Gradebook at the beginning might save them some heartache - and save me some time Smiley Happy  . 

Everything you're going to do is going to be a hack and so you're not going to be able to get everything you want. You'll have to pick what you're willing to give up on -- or at least what causes the least disruption.

You can add the negative points as the assignments come in rather than waiting until the end. That way it never goes above 90 in the first place. It also gives them time to question it and for you to remind them that it's capped at 90 points.

Another way to keep them them from "loosing" points that the technically never had is to switch to a weighted gradebook. Make all of the real grades being in an assignment group worth 100% of the grade. Make an assignment group called "Potential Bonus" worth 0% of the grade. Make another assignment group called "Final Bonus" with a single assignment worth 90 points.

The weight on the "Final Bonus" group should be based on your total points. For example, if you have 1000 points possible, then 90/1000 = 0.09 and you should make your final bonus group be worth 9% of the grade. If you had 1500 points, then it would be 90/1500 = 0.06 or 6% of the grade.

Do not put any grades in the Final Bonus category until the semester is over and the other grades have been entered. Doing so will skew the points and make them think they have a higher grade than they do.

At the end of the semester, look at the point totals for the "Potential Bonus" group and put down the smaller of that total or 90 into the single assignment in the "Final Bonus: category.

Doing it this way will not give them any extra credit along the way, it all comes in one lump at the end. But then at least they don't lose the points they never really had.

Hello  @James  ,

Thanks again for your time and input. Sadly, it seems it is often about workarounds and what to give up Smiley Sad

I probably should have mentioned that the 90 point assignment group is actually extra credit. So I prefer those points to get added in across the semester, so that students get the positive reinforcement right away. With an eye toward student retention, I am not really a fan of waiting until the end of the semester to add in points. I want students to see those points across the semester (to help prevent the withdrawal of students who actually have the points to pass). 

I teach at a community college, and most of my Gen Psych students are either freshman and/or work and have children. I offer extra credit so that when students miss an assignment deadline (because 'life happens'), the extra credit may help them to look forward (rather than dwell on missteps). I also have six Assignment Groups, and students get to drop from 1-3 assignments from each (depending on the group). This provides students with some flexibility in scheduling between home/school responsibilities. Since Canvas does not offer a 'keep highest scores' in a group option, this scenario always makes the Canvas Gradebook confusing for students (at least until the deadlines for more than the number of drops have passed i each group), but it seems a points system is easier for students understand. I have looked into using weighted assignment groups in the past, but my pedagogy for grading (extra credit, drops in each group) seems to make it complex, and likely less intuitive for students. 

Here in FL, we are mandated to 'cover' 80% of the textbook material in a semester. This is quite a challenge in my Gen Psych class - with 16 chapters of complex topics that are often both brand new to students and are (seemingly to them) disparate. The extra credit includes activities to either strengthen some of the more difficult topics we covered in class, or are things that I would like students to know about (for 'real life') but would never have time for in class. 

BTW... I see that you provided detailed comments about the math associated with the 'keep highest scores' option ( ). Thank you!! I haven't had time to look at those comments closely, but am about to do that shortly.

I took it as extra credit. If you want it incorporated throughout the semester, then putting the limiting assignment in at the beginning of the semester and putting in negative point values as they go is probably the best solution.

Thanks again for your feedback  @James  ,

I went ahead and also added a message above the instructions for every assignment in this group - a 'doing these can help come exam,  but max is 90' kind of thing. I figure if it is at the top of all of them, students are bound to have read it at least once 😕 

Community Member

"Everything you're going to do is going to be a hack and so you're not going to be able to get everything you want. "


This. This seems to be how Canvas works for anyone not doing exactly the specific thing that Canvas allows the instructors to do. I'm so tired of loop-d-loops that I am considering going back to tracking grades outside of Canvas for most of my classes.