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New Member

Student submissions disappearing

I have a student that is experiencing some frustration when she is going to submit assignments. She has been going through all of the right steps to submit assignments, but somehow they aren't coming through to the teacher every time. It seems like even if she gets the "submitted" confirmation on her device, it isn't a guarantee that it is really submitted Is there anything that might be causing this on Canvas or is it likely the device somehow (we use android based tablets)? I asked if she was using the app and she actually was just using the browser version, which further surprised me since most issues we have with this kind of thing are due to the app. I'm going to play around with her device some tomorrow to see if we can get it to happen again, so I might have more details at that time. Just thought I would check in and see if anyone had any ideas. Thanks!

9 Replies
Community Champion

Hi  @runtzj 

We sometimes receive queries from students who say they have submitted a file to an assignment but the teacher can't see it. It often turns out to be human error - the student has actually submitted to a different assignment or even a different course from where the teacher is expecting to see it. Sometimes it is the student's mistake, sometimes it is because there are several copies of the course with similar names (perhaps one for this year and one for last year) and the teacher and student are not both on the same course.

The first thing I do in these cases is to check the student's page view history. (I'm able to do this as I have full admin access to our system but you might need to ask your local Canvas admin to help you here.) This will show you all of the pages the student viewed recently, with date/time and full URLs so you can confirm which course/assignment they were looking at. For assignments you will see one entry in the history for viewing an assignment and another entry for actually submitting to it.

If the page view history shows that they submitted to a particular assignment but their submission is no longer there, the next thing I would do is log a support ticket with Instructure. Give them details of the assignment, the student's username and the date/time of submission, then they should be able to trace what has happened.

Hope this helps.

Community Coach
Community Coach

The other big thing to check, in addition to what Steve said, is if the student was using Internet Explorer/Edge. In general we find that if a submission is "lost" it's one of three things:

1. They never tried to submit it. Check the page view logs to see when and if the student tried to submit the assignment. It's amazing the number of times this is the case.

2. Student error. The student tried to submit and something went wrong. Check the page view logs for the student to see if you can confirm this. What you're looking for is if the student was on the right assignment page during the right time frame. This isn't a clear yes or no, but often enough for you to say that it appears that they tried to submit when they said they did.

3. Student was using Internet Explorer or Edge. You can check this on the page view logs as well. If it looks like the student tried to submit, but was using one of these browsers then this was probably the browser was likely the issue. For every one time it does work with these browsers, there are 2-3 students it doesn't work for so best practice is to just not use it.

We've been using Canvas since 2012 and I can only think of one time that there was actually a bif with Canvas where a student was legitly turning in the assignment and Canvas was losing it. This was back in 2013 and had to do with the combination of using a Mac with a certain version of Safari.

Community Member

I am surprised to see this above: "Student was using Internet Explorer or Edge.... For every one time it does work with these browsers, there are 2-3 students it doesn't work for so best practice is to just not use it.  Internet Explorer (11) and Edge are both on the approved list as of today, April 13th, and Kona's comment was posted just yesterday.

Which browsers does Canvas support?

Community Coach
Community Coach

dperpich​, yes, Instructure says that IE/Edge works with Canvas... which it technically does. Some students can use it and it seems to work ok. Yet, when the same student (using IE/Edge) contacts us because the Submit button is missing or they aren't able to submit an assignment (it just spins and spins and nothing happens), as soon as they switch to Firefox or Chrome it works fine. In addition, we rarely if ever have students who are using Firefox or Chrome contact us with these types of problems. It's almost always the students who are using IE/Edge.

This isn't anything official, this our experience from using Canvas since 2012. We don't even bother submitting these as Help tickets to Canvas Support because we've learned from past experience that the issue is easily fixed by switching browsers.

Our official stance to students is to just not use IE. Yes, technically they could and possible go for a while without any problems (and yes, some still do). Yet, we feel that the stress and agony that the student experiences as soon as they have an issue (normally when they really need to get a big assignment turned in at the last minute) isn't worth it in the long run. In addition, we recommend that students have two of the following browsers - Firefox, Chrome, or Safari - loaded on their computer. In general many technical glitches with Canvas (and pretty much most online technologies) are easily fixed by switching from one browser to another. [Side note - I don't think the browser thing is specific to Canvas. I know when we were using Angel it didn't play nicely with IE either.]

Community Champion

I totally agree with what Kona says. I oversee our Student Help Desk, and if we have a student contact us about assignment submission problems, the very first thing we check is what browser they are using. If they are using Internet Explorer or Edge, we ask them to switch browser and try again, and it will then work for them. Every time. We have even checked the Page Views log and will see where the student actually did submit the assignment, and the Page Views verifies that, but since they were using IE or Edge, it doesn't actually go through.

We tell students if they do want to use IE or Edge, just be aware that they most likely will experience issues, and if they do, switch to Chrome or Firefox and try it again.

I agree!  IE always appears the most problematic (not just in Canvas, of course), and changing browsers often solves problems.  I'm concerned that IE 11 and Edge are still listed on the very short list of Approved Browsers.  To say to folks, "Yeah, it's approved, but it doesn't always work," can be a hard sell.  Unfortunately, I've also seen missed buttons and funkiness in Chrome and Firefox, and sometimes quitting and revisiting the page in a new browser session, even in the same browser, solves the problem.  So I'm wondering to what extent might the issue be IE and to what extent might it be about the page itself.  It's always so hard to noodle these infrequent, random-appearing display issues. -- especially if we don't report them to the dev team... and that's what I think happens sometimes when local front line support solve the problem by recommending the user switch browsers and/or quit and log back in.  Are we missing critical data points here?

Community Contributor

I've also seen students somehow think that they have clicked the submit button, but they have not... ergo, no submission! We just made a switch to the Turnitin LTI so that is tripping up some students. More, and new steps for submitting work.

Also... though this is probably not the case here, sometimes the teacher can take actions that confuse students. I've seen teachers modify assignments to make them "Differentiated Assignments" - which hides the Assignment, grades, feedback from everyone except 1 student, even though everyone else previously submitted work.

I've also seen teachers get confused and think that "Hey, this Discussion\Quiz\etc. doesn't belong in my Assignments section!" and then go delete it. Oops- they just deleted it everywhere...

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @runtzj ​,

Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment.


New Member

I recently received a call from a student relating to this. I work in a campus employed IT team. The student I spoke with had taken a quiz, but when she looked at the quiz it says that it has not been done and allowed her to take it again, meaning it didn't log the first attempt. The quiz only has one attempt allowed and times out after 30 minutes, so it wasn't that she didn't finish it or that it allows multiple attempts. I figure she would remember doing a quiz, plus the other quiz from the previous week closed days before, so it's unlikely she just remembered it wrong. Anyone experienced this?