I'd like to share a few pitfalls with the current anonymous grading situation for assignments. I have been waiting for Canvas to implement a more robust anonymous grading solution over the past several years as it is an important part of the grading process at the law school that I work for. There have been a lot of improvements but in my opinion, there are still some major flaws that make it difficult to work with to preserve student anonymity throughout the semester. I think with a few tweaks I've outlined below it could allow for a much more robust anonymous grading experience.
Preserving anonymity in Speed Grader after posting grades
Preserve the ability to view submission details in Speed Grader with anonymous grading turned on
Option to preserve anonymity in the grade book by hiding student names or other identifying information
The first issue is one that I feel should be the default behavior for anonymously graded assignments. When posting grades for assignments the current behavior is that it defaults back to showing student names in Speed Grader. This makes it impossible to keep the anonymity of the assignment. If the instructor relies on anonymity to prevent any kind of grading biases throughout the semester then there is no way to do this with the way anonymous grading currently works. It would make more sense if Canvas could simply keep hiding the student names in Speedgrader after posting grades. To make matters worse, with the anonymous grading checkbox selected as an assignment option, the ability to hide names retroactively in Speedgrader is also gone!
I understand that there is an assignment audit that logs whether or not instructors graded the assignment anonymously or not. By the time they've viewed the student name along with the submitted assignment, the damage has already been done so to speak. They now have a clear view of which student submitted which assignment whether they make adjustments or not. For the next anonymous assignment, any grading biases have potentially been compromised.
The second issue has come up before. There was an issue that was archived recently labeled "Time and Date Stamp for Anonymous Assignment ... It was archived and never actually solved the problem. It involved the ability for instructors to view submission details when anonymous grading is turned on. I can confirm that in fact, instructors cannot view this information. It requires additional privileges that are unclear to me. I can replicate it in our environment pretty easily. I have admin privileges to our law school subdomain. If I add myself as a user with grader privileges to a course in question I can see submission details i.e. when the assignment was submitted and a link to the file for download. Our instructors cannot view this information. Several of them have policies that deduct points based on how late the assignment was submitted. It doesn't make sense that they would have to post grades, thereby removing anonymity, in order to view when the student submitted. There was a community member that responded mentioning that this should be the case but elsewhere in the Canvas documentation it describes this behavior exactly. On that page, it states, while anonymous grading is enabled, submission details are hidden in the submission sidebar until the assignment is unmuted or assignment grades are posted.
One other suggestion I have is to provide an option at the course level to simply hide student names in the grade book as a persistent option. Our faculty would like the option to prevent any accidental grading biases by viewing student names in the grade book. With this option turned on it would simply remove any of the identifying columns until they're ready to download or view their final grades for the semester. They would prefer not to be influenced by seeing student names when they are setting final grade curves once all assignments or other activities have been graded.