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jeffrey_weimer
Community Contributor

My Ideal World for Assignments and Tests

In Canvas today ...

We have sections for Assignments and Quizzes. Assignments can hold quizzes. Quizzes cannot have points given to them unless they have questions. The Grade Book can only show what we designate in the Assignments section, not in the Quizzes section ... unless the Quiz in the Quizzes section is first made as an Assignment. The Gradebook has columns for Assignment Categories that are given 0% weight to the class (e.g. reading), which only serves to add to clutter in the Grade Book.

This is a bit too confusing for me (and perhaps even for the students) compared to the days of straight-up hard copies.

In my ideal Canvas world ... We would have Sections for Assignments and Tests, not Assignments and Quizzes.

Assignments

--> hold reading, homework, reference, ... and other equivalent TASK-DIRECTED work

--> NEVER (or should not) hold quizzes, surveys, exams, ... and other equivalent EVALUATION-DIRECTED work

--> anything set up as an Assignment may or may not have user-defined points, due dates ...

--> we can choose to include or exclude Categories of Assignments from showing in the Grade Book

Tests

--> hold quizzes, surveys, exams, ... and other equivalent EVALUATION-DIRECTED work

--> NEVER (or should not) hold reading, homework, reference, ... and other equivalent TASK-DIRECTED work

--> anything we set up as a Test may or may not have user-defined points, due dates ...

--> we can choose to include or exclude entire Categories of Tests from showing in the Grade Book

The key changes from today's Canvas to get to my ideal Canvas ...

  • The Assignments section is task-directed, and the Tests (not Quizzes) section is evaluation-directed. This gives us (and the students) a clearer distinction of what belongs where the administration of a course.
  • We will be able to assign points to a quiz or survey or test without needing first to put a question in the quiz or survey or test. This gives us an easier way to create placeholders for quizzes or exams or surveys or other materials that we give out and collect as hard copies during class.
  • Categories in either Assignments or Tests will count in the Grade Book. Now, only those things entirely classed in Assignments are included in the Grade Book (Quizzes are not unless they are first created as Assignments).
  • We will be able to exclude Categories of either Assignments or Tests from the Grade Book. Now, the Grade Book has "clutter" from Categories that have zero weight to the course.

I will be starting feature requests on the above ideas ...

- Rename the section Quizzes to Tests

- The Tests section should include exams, quizzes, and surveys

- Allow a quiz or exam to have points even without having questions (i.e. to be a placeholder in the grade book)

- The Tests section should be included in the grade book (in addition to the Assignments section)

- We should be able to exclude Categories of Assignments or Tests from showing in the Grade Book

What are your thoughts?

--
JJW

Tags (1)
20 Replies
Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

 @jeffrey_weimer , I teach writing intensive courses. The quizzes in the course, contributing about 15% of the course grade, are designed to assess lower-level mastery (retention of facts, for example). Writing assignments account for nearly 75% of the course grade, and these assignments evaluate a broad array of students' higher-order mastery skills, as captured in and measured by a comprehensive rubric. How would such evaluative assignments fit into your proposed structure?

> How would such evaluative assignments fit into your proposed structure?

  • Quizzes belong in the Tests Section. They are evaluation-oriented.
  • Writing Assignments belong in the Assignments Section. They are task-directed.

That you will grade quizzes is a requirement of its class. That students will have to do something for the writing assignments is a requirement of its class. That you will also grade their performance on writing assignments is a choice.

I see no conflict or confusion here.

--

JJW

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

 @jeffrey_weimer ​, two other questions:

1. I noticed you said this:

We will be able to exclude Categories of either Assignments or Tests from the Grade Book. Now, the Grade Book has "clutter" from Categories that have zero weight to the course.

You can customize the assignment groups to your liking, thereby removing the categories with zero weight (the "clutter"), creating categories of your own, and naming them however you'd like, and assigning appropriate weights to them. The Gradebook can then show categories that accurately reflect what's in them and will no longer show any zero-weight categories. Is there a reason this wouldn't work?

2. Where would graded discussions fit into the proposed course structure?

I can say that I do have one 0 weight category that I wish I didn't have in my gradebook, it's for my initial discussion post reminder and roll call attendance. Since I have two due dates for my discussions (one for the initial and one for replies) and discussions can only handle one due date, I have a zero weight category where I've got all my zero point discussion reminder assignments - one for each discussion. Smiley Sad

Yet, I don't find this a problem with the gradebook as much as an issue with discussions and the need for two due dates, as well as roll call shouldn't be automatically added to the gradebook!

> Where would graded discussions fit into the proposed course structure?

Do you insist that you evaluate the discussions as a clear metric of the quality of a student's performance in the course? They belong in Tests.

Are students required to do something and you then choose to grade their work in some way, perhaps not even for quality but just for doing the work? They belong in Assignments.

Your choice. I see no reason to make this any harder.

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JJW

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 @jeffrey_weimer ​, you're absolutely right! I'm glad that Canvas affords us the options that allow us to choose where these assessments belong.

I created a Graded Quiz that I hoped would be just in the Quizzes Section. It also appeared in the Assignments Section. I had no choice here.

So, I could not choose where the assessment belonged. Canvas chose for me, and the choice is entirely confusing (a quiz in two locations).

This is one aspect of the problem that should be eliminated by my proposal.

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JJW

0 Kudos

I would say this is where things get confusing in Canvas. Assignments (the navigational link and index page on the left in your course) is the place in Canvas where you set-up your gradebook, so yes, anything that is graded in your course will be in Assignments. This is where you determine if assignments will be weighted, if you want to drop lowest/highest scores, etc. So in all honestly it's not "really" assignments as much as the gradebook set-up area. Yet, this is confusing because you have a separate place that you can create graded discussions (which will also show up in Assignments) and graded quizzes. In addition, Assignments (the page/link) is where you create regular canvas "Assignments" (as in individual assignments where you enter grades for students).

One thing, you don't have a choice about graded quizzes being in Assignments, but you can drag and drop it into any Assignment group you want on the Assignment page.

jeffrey_weimer
Community Contributor

I think you are on nearly the same page as me with your (now archived) idea. Thank you for the link to it.

I agree. The Assignments Section could be better named "Stuff that Should Appear in Your Grade Book Absolutely Must Appear Here First" and we might all have a far better appreciation of the primary reason why that Section exists.

Anything that can reduce the level of confusion in using Canvas will be helpful.

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JJW

> The Gradebook can then show categories that accurately reflect what's in them and will no longer show any zero-weight categories. Is there a reason this wouldn't work?

This does not work now. When I created or edit a Category in the Assignments or Tests, I should be able to check a box that says ...

[  ] Exclude this Category from the Grade Book

It would be that simple. I have just posted a feature request for this idea.

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JJW

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Beth_Young
Community Contributor

I use the quizzes tool often for assignments, because some kinds of assignments are easier to grade that way.  I explain in the name and description of the item what it is. e.g., a quiz might be called "Chapter 1 Quiz."  A test might be called "MORPHOLOGY TEST" or "FINAL EXAM" (I use all caps for major tests).  Today a homework assignment called "Exploring COCA and COHA" and an extra credit assignment called "Extra Credit: Grimm's Law" are due; they are both set up in the quiz tool.

In your ideal reorganization of canvas, would there be two quizzes tools, one in "Tests" and one in "Assignments"? Or would we specify the test/assignment category when we create the quiz? What would we call the quizzes tool?

I have found that my students call anything in the quizzes tool a "quiz," even though the assignment descriptions state, "This assignment is not a quiz," so I agree that our current configuration blurs the line between quizzes/tests and assignments. But on the other hand, I do evaluate assignments, so the task-directed/evaluation-directed line is a little blurry too.

> In your ideal reorganization of canvas, would there be two quizzes tools, one in "Tests" and one in "Assignments"? Or would we specify the test/assignment category when we create the quiz? What would we call the quizzes tool?

I propose to eliminate the option to generate quizzes in the Assignments Section. Quizzes belong in the Quizzes Section, not in both the Assignments and Quizzes Sections. Even so, I propose to keep the tools available to generate on-line questions in the Assignments Section.

Assignments should have tools to generate or track Reading, Homework, and Reports (among others).

Tests should have tools to generate or track Surveys, Quizzes, and Exams (among others).

The tools might be exactly the same in both cases. The names would be changed.

> But on the other hand, I do evaluate assignments, so the task-directed/evaluation-directed line is a little blurry too.

Yes. I agree. Here are my dictionary definitions ...

Assignment: a task or a piece of work given to someone as part of a job or course of study

Test: a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something

So, we should agree that while we must always evaluate any content given as a test, we can selectively choose to evaluate content given as an assignment.

I would hold then that content given as an assignment is task-directed, while content given as a test is evalution-oriented (a slight change in phrasing).

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JJW

One way I use quizzes is as drills - after completing an assigned reading, students take a quiz over the material (and as with Beth, the questions deal with basic factual material), but I allow them to both immediately see which questions they missed and retake the quiz as many times as they wish up to the deadline. Thus the quiz serves more as a learning tool than an evaluative one, in addition to coercing them into doing the reading in the first place. In fact, in this way the quiz helps students learn the material better than through either graded discussion or completion worksheets or other exercises. All of these are evaluations in one way or another, and in fact, students should (at least theoretically) learn more by taking the quiz multiple times than through either discussions or worksheets, which would likely be graded once. My exams, on the other hand, are true evaluations, but both my quizzes and exams are "quizzes" according to Canvas. So to me, I'm not sure there really needs to be such a hard-and fast-distinction (and if, as you propose, there would still be tools to create online questions under Assignments, then I wonder if there is any real distinction to be made in the first place). I look more at the Assignments and Quizzes in Canvas as simply a collection of tools to get the job done, and I want to be able to use whichever one I feel is most suitable for achieving a particular learning outcome.

I'm fine with quizzes living in the Quizzes section of my Canvas course, but I would like to continue to be able to use them as assignments, but with all the grade-reporting flexibility that Canvas Assignments currently offer.

As a footnote, I'm in my first semester using Canvas after many semesters of using Blackboard, so I'm still coming to terms with the conceptual differences between the two, so if I've misunderstood any of your original proposal, please feel free to set me straight.

jeffrey_weimer
Community Contributor

> I'm fine with quizzes living in the Quizzes section of my Canvas course, but I would like to continue to be able to use them as assignments, but with all the grade-reporting flexibility that Canvas Assignments currently offer.

One of my ongoing points of confusion is that Quizzes have to be made IN THE ASSIGNMENTS SECTION in order for them to appear in the Grade Book. I would think we should be able to make a graded quiz in the Quizzes Section, not have to think about a quiz as an Assignment first.

Another of my ongoing points of confusion is that Quizzes have both quizzes and surveys, and Assignments have quizzes too.

> One way I use quizzes is as drills - after completing an assigned reading, students take a quiz over the material (and as with Beth, the questions deal with basic factual material), but I allow them to both immediately see which questions they missed and retake the quiz as many times as they wish up to the deadline. Thus the quiz serves more as a learning tool than an evaluative one,

I see the approach you take. After playing around a bit, I am even more confused with the semantics in Canvas. In particular, with the option to select an Assignment Type, we have ...

  • Type: Assignment - An Assignment in an Assignment Section is rather ambiguous ... What does this Type really mean? It really serves solely to allow instructors to "roll their own" assignments.
  • Type: Discussion - This is a way to link to a Discussion.
  • Type: Quiz - This is a way to link to a Quiz solely so that it appears in the Grade Book.
  • Type: External Tool - This is a way to link to an External Tool
  • Type: Not Graded - This is a designation to create something that is not to be in the Grade Book. IOW, it is a flag that we are creating an Assignment that should go in the Grade Book but we do not want it to be in the Grade Book. Otherwise, it is the same as an Assignment Type.

(sigh)

In my ideal world, Assignments would be categorized by type as ...

  • Type: Instructor Defined  - roll your own
  • Type: Canvas Link - create a link to something elsewhere in Canvas
  • Type: External Link - create a link to something externally outside of Canvas

The option Not Graded would be a separate on/off setting to the Assignment itself. Or it would be set on/off on the Category for the specific assignment.

> I look more at the Assignments and Quizzes in Canvas as simply a collection of tools to get the job done, and I want to be able to use whichever one I feel is most suitable for achieving a particular learning outcome.

I agree. All I can note again is, the setup in Canvas continues to be rather confusing to me. The tool "screwdriver" appears in two different places. You use it one way in one place and another in the other place. It is not that you cannot put a screw in a board, it is just that you have to think too much about where  you have to be to grab the right screwdriver tool.

And even as I grow more proficient with using Canvas, I still often get more frustrated with finding such convolutions.

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JJW

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

 @jeffrey_weimer ​, since your prompt inspires an ongoing discussion rather than posing a question where a single response can be marked as the "Correct Answer," would you mind if we were to change the nature of your post from a question to a discussion?

I thought that is what I initiated ... a Discussion.

Pardon me as I learn how to navigate this.

Please change this to a Discussion not a Question.

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JJW

Done!

cwendt
Community Champion

Jeffrey, a lot of his makes sense. I've never understood the calling everything a quiz thing. Maybe we could choose?

jeffrey_weimer
Community Contributor

I would think, a method to choose the naming of assignments might be good or bad. It would be good in the sense of flexibility for the user. It would be bad in the sense of inconsistency for the support personnel.

Hello ... I cannot seem to get my Blurbally Box to show correctly in the Grade Book. Can anyone help please?

I would be inclined to stay with Assignments and Tests as the Section headings. I would be inclined to allow any number of Category headings in Assignments (Reading, Discussions, Lab Notebook Pages, Reports, ...). I would be inclined to fix the naming conventions in Tests to Surveys, Quizzes, and Exams.

With this, the above question suggests that Blurbally Box is probably an Assignment Category, certainly not a Test. We can go from there with more confidence.

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JJW

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Jeff_F
Community Champion

I disfavor providing the ability to hide columns in Grades.  Coming recently from another LMS where options existed to Hide from students, Hide from Instructor, and Hide from both I can speak first hand as to the issues this caused.  Often combined with hidden calculated columns that created a weighted total column that fed into the final grades, this was a true mess. 

This combination of work around's and 'good ideas' resulted to many scenarios causing confusion, false assumptions, and at times, pandemonium.  I urge keeping it simple:  no hiding, please!