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Differentiate between the two different uses of "Assignment"

Differentiate between the two different uses of "Assignment"

I wasn't sure how to word the title, but it would make training (and explaining things) a lot easier if "Assignments" (as in the tab where you create your gradebook assignments) and "Assignment" (as in a place to upload/turn in assignments) were named differently. The duplicate use of such commonly used and referred to features is confusing when training and working with faculty and students.

 

Even reading the nicely worded explanation from the What are Assignments for instructors? guide - "Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (i.e. files, images, text, URLs, etc.)" - notice the use of the term "online submissions" instead of "Assignment" in this first sentence in order to avoid confusion?

 

Yet, in the What assignment types are available in Canvas courses? guide it states - "Canvas supports five assignment types: Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, External Tools, and Not Graded."

 

All of this gets very confusing and could be fixed by calling Assignments (as in the page) "Assignments" and the other something else. Online submissions sounds good, BUT, since this is also the "assignment" type for assignments that don't get uploaded into Canvas, I don't think it would work.

32 Comments
biray
Community Champion

Thank you for your feedback,  @kona ​.

Have you also seen the What is the difference between a Canvas Assignment and a Canvas Activity?

I'm not not sure what part of this is an actual feature request, per se. Are you asking that the wording be changed or modified somehow in the Canvas interface?

However, I'm looping in erinhallmark from documentation to follow-up on this concern. If it's just a matter of semantics and need for greater clarity, she'd be the one to address your concerns. If you do come across other guide discrepancies in the future, feel free to submit them in the comments section of the guides, individually, too.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @biray ​, I don't have a problem at all with the guides. I think they've done a great job trying to keep straight which "Assignment" they are talking about. I'm talking about in the Canvas interface it would be great if Assignments (as in the tab on the left/page with all assignments in the gradebook) and Assignments (as in the place where students can submit their work) had a different name.

In the attached image I've circled the two references to assignments that make it confusing.

If this isn't a feature idea, then just let me know the right place to add this feedback!

biray
Community Champion

Thank you for clarifying. Since the actions that correspond with the 'dashboard' assignment drop-down and the course "assignment" tab are slightly different, you want some indication of this distinction in the UI... correct?

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

 @biray ​,

Yes  @kona ​ is correct that we use "Assignment" with two different meanings. The Assignments link in Course Navigation houses all assignment types as well as individual submission "assignments".  The Assignments link is where all submission assignment types can be grouped together into assignment groups, but the nomenclature can definitely be frustrating. Changing the terminology for better clarification would definitely be a product decision. Smiley Happy

Erin

sboldt
Community Participant

 @kona ​ I agree that the use of assignments to signify two different "actions" in Canvas is very difficult to explain in training.  I would like to see the Assignments link be separated into 2 parts.  Keep Assignments as the terminology to explain a content item that is added to a course just like discussion, quiz, file, content page, external tool, external URL. Create a new space/link and new nomenclature for items that exist within the gradebook such as: Gradebook setup.  Within the  gradebook setup one can add Assignments, discussions, quizzes or "graded item" not tied to content.

I also don't think this is an issue with the wording in the guides; just very difficult to explain the double terminology to faculty. It's the hardest part for me to explain to faculty when training and the hardest concept for them to understand. Maybe as I become more comfortable with Canvas, the explanation part will evolve. However, I also noticed that our Canvas trainer struggled with the same when trying to differentiate when talking about "Assignments". I'm sure when creating the guides it would be much easier if one didn't have to concentrate on carefully wording the material should "assignments" not be used interchangeably.

Sarah

dburdick
Community Participant

Definitely on board with the push to differentiate Assignments and to be more specific in our terminology. I looked at the Assignments vs. Activities and that just clouds the matter even further by bringing Attendance into it (when we all know that Attendance has no future) and by ignoring the differentiation between graded and non-graded Assignments. Do Assignments become Activities when they are not graded? Etc. See also my post on and the confusion between Assignment groups and Student groups. We are addressing this by ignoring the official Canvas language and substituting our own.

hesspe
Community Champion

I haven't decided whether to vote this one up or not.  I also see a problem with the ambiguous use of language, here and elsewhere, but if it isn't fixed right, it will create more confusion than it resolves. 

1)  @kona ​ says "calling Assignments (as in the page) "Assignments" and the other something else."

2) sboldt​says "Keep Assignments as the terminology to explain a content item that is added to a course just like discussion, quiz, file, content page, external tool, external URL. Create a new space/link and new nomenclature for items that exist within the gradebook such as: Gradebook setup.

I think each of them are applying the term "Assignment" differently.  I'd prefer to see the term Assignment on par with Discussion and Quiz, as student work that can be submitted to Canvas which may (or may not) be graded.  (Thus I'm closer to 2) above)

I'd suggest having the left-menu item Assignments take you to the assignments listing page (with the + Assignment button on top), just as the left-menu item Quizzes takes you to the quiz list page with the (+ Quiz button at top) and Discussions takes you to the discussions (with the + Discussions button at top).  Canvas could then add a menu item "Assignment Groups" that would have a "+ Assignment Group" button (now it reads "+ Group", adding to the confusion between "Assignment Groups" and "Student Groups").

As I write this out, it seems to me it would add to consistency and clarity, without pulling out the rug from experienced users.

weckerlec
Community Participant

Agree wholeheartedly with  @kona ​.

This has been a point of confusion in our transition to Canvas. In our previous system, the tool was referred to as a drop box. In this case, it may be helpful to leave all navigation referring to assignments, but add "submission" to the name of the tool.

We would then have Assignments on the left navigation as a place to add quizzes, discussions, files, content pages, etc. as well as an "assignment submission". The change would just involve changing the name of the tool from Assignment → Assignment Submission.

ggd356
Community Member

This seems related, but I would like to see a way to put a column in the gradebook WITHOUT an assignment. So if something is graded in another place, I can just enter scores, without needing to create an assignment.

weckerlec
Community Participant

ggd356 I agree that it would be convenient to be able to add items to the gradebook without having to add an assignment. To ensure this get the proper attention, I think you should add this as a new request unless there is already one in the pipeline.

jbuchner
Community Contributor

john_morris
Community Participant

I'd like to see the alternative names as part of this discussion so I can make a clearer decision of support... I suggest:

  • Exercises - to replace the individual Canvas item that can be scored and is currently referred to as an "assignment"
  • Assignments - as the group of Canvas items: exercises, quizzes, surveys, discussions, etc.
dburdick
Community Participant

I really like John's suggestion. I was struggling to find better language, and his suggestion of "Exercises" makes a lot of sense to me.

arovner
Community Contributor

I agree.  It feels a bit odd when I think of my large class assignments as "exercises" but "quizzes" also felt odd at first when using it for college final exams.  I got used to it and now don't give it a second thought.

Alternately the big "A" Assignments tab on the left menu button could be changed to "Activities", keeping the "Assignments" name for actual assignments.  But that might be a more difficult transition for everyone who is already using  Canvas.

Not sure - still thinking this through...

Thanks!

🙂

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

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curtain
Community Participant

I think 'Assessments' could work

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

This idea is one of the lucky ones that was selected to get a little more time for voting as part of our evolution of the feature idea process.   It was selected because of it's vote count and/or comment thread.  

*Selection criteria: Most (not all) ideas that received 70+ votes in their initial voting round.

caryn
Community Participant

One potential title for the class of objects is "Deliverables" - that seems to encompass the concept of things we want the students to do.

Thanks for re-opening this idea for voting! I know this can be very confusing, especially for people new to Canvas.

siouxgeonz
Community Contributor

Yes  @caryn  -- the answer to confusing design should be to improve the design, not to say "we need more training!"   

jolaine
Community Participant

I wish I could vote several times on this one!  I am constantly having to explain to faculty that "Canvas considers everything that gets points an assignment, but then there are also assignments which are also the place where students submit their papers."  To me, the "Assignments" tab is currently much more of a "gradebook setup" tab.  That's where the items are grouped (another place where Canvas uses the word groups in two completely different meanings!), weighted, scores dropped, etc.  I would prefer that be called something like that and then there is a separate tab for JUST assignments. And it is also confusing to faculty that they go to "Assignments" to set up their gradebook!  They're looking all over "Grades" to find a place to weight, drop scores, etc.

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