Canvas Release: MasteryPaths (2016-11-19)

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

This document introduces the Canvas MasteryPaths feature as noted in the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2016-11-07) and Canvas Production Release Notes (2016-11-19). MasteryPaths is available in all regions worldwide.


MasteryPaths requires the Mastery Paths feature option in account settings, which can be enabled by any Canvas admin. When allowed at the account level, the feature can be enabled on a course-by-course basis.


When enabled for a course, MasteryPaths affects Modules and items in Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, and Pages.


The Canvas MasteryPaths feature allows instructors to customize learning experiences to students based on student performance. MasteryPaths is based on differentiated assignments, an existing Canvas feature. Instructors and course designers can identify activities for each student’s learning path and differentiate assignments for required learning, optional learning, or choosing their own content and assignments within a specific path. All assignments and pages should be created before publishing course content to students.



Account Setup

MasteryPaths requires the Mastery Paths feature option in account settings, which can be enabled by any Canvas admin. When allowed at the account level, the feature can be enabled on a course-by-course basis.


Additionally, a new admin, Conditional Release API, will be added to all Canvas accounts by default. This admin should not be removed for accounts that want to use MasteryPaths, otherwise MasteryPaths will not work correctly. The API will be removed as an account admin in a future release.


Modules Setup

The MasteryPath process currently only originates from the course Modules page. Before a user creates conditional assignments, all course assignments and pages should be developed and added to Modules as module items. MasteryPaths can be created from module structures in existing courses or new course content.


Indenting module items can be used to help organize the modules structure and visually show which items should be part of a MasteryPath.




Modules Requirements and Prerequisites

Module requirements and prerequisites are not specifically required for MasteryPaths. However, setting requirements may be helpful for students to see the scope of the course and emphasize course organization.


Assignment Content

Any graded assignments, graded discussions, and quizzes in a module can be the source for a MasteryPaths item and can also be set as conditional assignments directly from the module.


Module items that cannot be used in MasteryPaths include ungraded assignments, ungraded discussions, practice quizzes, and surveys (both graded and ungraded).


Page Content

Because pages do not require grading, pages cannot be the source of a MasteryPath and can only be added to an assignment as conditional content. However, a page must be edited and set up as a MasteryPath item before it can be added to a conditional path.


To enable a page for MasteryPaths, open the page from the module. After editing the page, select the Allow in mastery paths checkbox. This checkbox allows MasteryPaths to select the page as a conditional item. Otherwise, the page will not display as an option for conditional content.





MasteryPaths Creation

To create a conditional assignment, begin with a module assignment that should be required by all students. Such items can include a pre-test or an introductory assignment that act as foundation for a student’s learning. The assignment’s Settings menu displays a MasteryPaths option, which accesses the MasteryPaths configuration page for the item.


Note: Items that cannot originate a MasteryPath, such as pages, as well as items that do not support MasteryPaths will not display the MasteryPaths settings option.




Configuration Page

The MasteryPaths configuration page allows instructors to add additional items in the modules list as conditional items that are only assigned to specific students through conditional rules. The configuration page for a conditional item is located in the item’s MasteryPaths tab.


Note: The MasteryPaths tab is available in assignments, discussions, and quizzes, so additional content around the tab may vary.





Conditional Rules

Conditional content is created based on a set of rules in three scoring ranges. After the initial assignment has been graded by the instructor, the student’s score designates which conditional items(s) will be assigned as a learning path. For instance, a student who scores above 90% on an assignment could be assigned more advanced work, while a student who scores below 60% could view assignments designed for content clarification and improvement.


The ranges display according to the display set for the assignment—points, percentage, letter grade, or GPA. The three ranges default to 70%, 40%, and 0% of the assignment’s point value, rounded up respectively. For instance, an assignment worth 25 points defaults to ranges of 25–18 points, 18–10 points, and 10–0 points. However, each range can be customized to a range outside the default values by clicking the value and making the preferred adjustment.




Any existing item in the course can be added as additional content. To add conditional content, select the range where the conditional content should be created and click the Add button. In the content window, select the item(s) that should be added for the selected range. Content can be searched by name, or in the adjacent drop-down menu, items can be filtered by type. If a content item does not display in the content window, the item cannot be added as a conditional release item.




If additional items are added to a range at a later time, any item already added in the range will be crossed out.


Note: Pages will not display as a conditional item unless the page was edited to be included as a MasteryPath item.


And or Or Setting

Up to three existing items in a course can be added to each range, either in the form of individual items or groups. When more than one item is added to the same range, the items default to be completed together as indicated by the And (ampersand) symbol. Students who complete the assignment and score in a range with joined assignments must complete all the assignments in the conditional path.


However, the path can be set to complete only one item or group in the path by clicking the And symbol, which separates the items and displays an Or button. Students who complete the assignment and score in a range with an Or designation can select which item(s) to complete as part of the conditional path.


Multiple items within a range can be mixed and matched as individual items, grouped items, or both. Items can also be reordered within the range by dragging and dropping in the preferred order.




Item Management

Each item includes an options menu for quick access to edit the item, move the item, or remove the item from the conditional path. Items can also be moved to another range by drag and drop.




If necessary, users can delete multiple items at once by hovering over each item, selecting the check mark, and clicking the Delete key on their computer keyboard. This behavior will be adjusted to support additional bulk functionality in a future release.





  • Added items can include due dates, but due dates are controlled by each individual item, not by the conditional path. Instructors may want to confirm any assigned due dates for conditional items are aligned with the rest of the coursework appropriately in the module page structure.
  • If conditional items are added to a path and later changed (such as separating conditional items in the same range or adding another item), the change will not apply to any students who have already been graded based on the original conditional path. Conditional items should be final when course content is published.


Index Page Assignment Indicator

Once the assignment is saved, the assignment displays a MasteryPaths link in the Modules page. This link is also displayed in the assignment's respective index page—Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes, respectively. When selected for an individual item, the MasteryPaths link directly opens the configuration page for the item.




Conditional items also display the Mastery Paths indicator showing the range that triggers the release of the item. If an item includes multiple ranges, the MasteryPaths indicator shows there are multiple ranges.


Note: The same item may be added to more than one source MasteryPaths assignment.




Conditional assignments can also be set up as their own MasteryPath source. These assignments show both the MasteryPaths link and the conditional range of the item where it was already added.




Differentiating Assignments for MasteryPaths

By default, assignments in Canvas are assigned to Everyone, which means all students will be able to view the item in their Modules page. All content items added to a MasteryPath should be set as a differentiated assignment for MasteryPaths, as it is only meant to be distributed as a conditional assignment.


For each conditional assignment, open the assignment and view the Details tab.






In the Assign field, remove Everyone from the item and replace it with the MasteryPaths option. The Mastery Paths assignment designates the assignment for conditional release only, and the assignment will only display to students whose scores fall in a range that releases the assignment to them.




Student View

Once Modules and their content have been published, instructors can use the Student View feature in their course to view Modules as students will see them. The only course items that should be visible are items assigned to Everyone. If a conditional item is displaying in student view, the assignment may not have been edited to become a differentiated assignment for MasteryPaths.





Student Workflow

For students, Modules only shows items that have been published and assigned to Everyone or assigned specifically to an individual student.




Conditional items are automatically included in the module once the instructor has graded the source MasteryPath item. Once the assignment has been graded, the conditional item(s) will display in the student’s Modules page based on the item’s scoring range.


Note: When students complete a MasteryPath assignment that requires any manual grading, and module items are required to be completed in order, the item is shown as being locked until the assignment is graded.


Conditional Item Options

If a conditional path allows students to choose an assignment, students are shown that they must choose an assignment. They can select which option they prefer for their assignment path.




Additionally, when a student is assigned or selects a conditional item, the conditional assignment automatically adds the student’s name to the assignment as being differentiated to that student.


Note: If an instructor regrades an assignment after a student chooses a mastery path option, and the regrade puts the student’s grade in a different conditional rule group, the student will have to choose another mastery path option and complete it before advancing through the module.


Instructor Assignment Sidebar Summary

Once students complete a specific assignment, instructors can view the breakdown of the mastery path ranges in the assignment. Each range includes a link that shows the number of students who scored in each range. Instructors can click the name of a student in the range, view the student’s score and submission, and send a message to the student.



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