Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Member

Two options for assignments

I'm trying to create two assignments which the student can choose. I've looked at Mastery Paths and generally understand them and there is an OR option between assignments. But that needs to start with an assessment. I don't want to start with a test. I just want the student to choose between two assignments, either one will work. 

Isn't there a simpler way to do this? :smileyshocked:

Thanks in advance! 

6 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Leland -

You've looked into Mastery Paths, and that's what I would have suggested. I use a quiz (in an assignment group worth 0% of the total grade) with a single multiple-choice question. Based on that question, the other components open up. I like this because it only puts the correct assignment in each student's to-do list and the gradebook.

I've also done it where students choose and then, based on their submission, I excuse the other after the deadline. When creating the assignment, I write a little footnote at the bottom of the page explaining the option and linking to the other assignment for clarity. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @lelandkrum ...

I do not teach courses (I am a Canvas administrator for our school), but I believe it was  @kona ‌ who gave me some information similar to what  @klundstrum  posted above:

I have two assignments that my students can pick from, but I'll only be grading one of the assignments. How do I set this up in Canvas?

Create two assignments in your course like normal []. You can place these two assignments in their own Assignment Group (How do I add an assignment group in a course?), but you don't have to. When it comes time to grade either of the submitted assignments, don't put a grade in for the assignment that the students didn't do. As long as the grade is left blank (no zero) then it doesn't count against the student. ANY assignment that is left blank for the grade (no zero or other score entered in) will NOT be counted against the student. This is why it is so important to put zeros in for assignments that the students should have submitted, but didn't. If you don't put the zero in, then the assignment doesn't count against the student, and their grade looks much higher than it really is.

As an alternate solution, instead of leaving the grade blank, you can use EX (excused). This way, both you and your student know for sure that the grade is excused and shouldn't be marked as a zero. Review How do I excuse an assignment for a student in the Gradebook? for additional information.

I hope this will help, Leland.

Community Champion

Supposing both options are Assignments (and not one option is a quiz and the other is an assignment), and both assignments would use the same rubric and are worth the same points and have the same due date (basically, if it's just that the prompt is different), what I do is post both options in the assignment prompt area. The key is just making the formatting really clear. Option 1 and 2 below are in Header 2 styles to make them stand out. Like this:

Directions: choose one of the options below, yada yada.

Option 1




Option 2


Community Champion

Hi Leland Krum,

There are lots of ways to do the student choice assignment including:

  • Mastery paths as mentioned by Kristin
    • Involves setup by the instructor before assignment submission
  • EX in the un-chosen assignment mentioned by Chris
    • Involves intervention by the instructor after submission
    • Potentially affected by Missing Grade Policy
  • 1 assignment - 2 prompts mentioned by Katie.
    • Easiest solution if both assignments are worth the same number of points. I've used this method when it's one essay but 4 different possible prompts.
    • Student has to identify which assignment they are completing in their submission.

Here's another option: Student choose assignment in a discussion/group and Assign by section (or student)

Lots of options depending on the nature of the assignments and how often you will have students choose their own assignment. I still think the method mentioned by Katie - 1 assignment 2 prompts is the easiest to set up especially since either assignment will work.

I would set up 2 explanation pages and 1 assignment page in case the 2 assignments are different enough that require more instructions than can fit on a single page. And I also like that pages have a page history and it makes it real easy to swap out the possible assignments if the "assignment page" is just a drop box.

  • Assignment 1 Explanation page
  • Assignment 2 Explanation page
  • Submit  Assignment page

Let us know what you end up using and how it works out for you,
Cheers - Shar

Community Team
Community Team

 @lelandkrum , I always provided my students with at least three options for each writing assignment; for larger assignments, I'd give them as many as ten topics from which to choose. As Katie described, I listed all of the options in a single assignment and asked students to specify which one they had chosen as part of their submission. Very rarely, and invariably only very early in the semester, a student would complete all three, but understood after receiving appropriate feedback.

Here's an example of one of my weekly writing assignments:

335156_student choice.png

Community Member

How is this not built into Canvas? Just a simple way to create multiple, optional assignments without workarounds that create extra work for the teacher.