Individual Submissions on Group Projects


Currently, group projects only allow one submission for the entire group. There are times when students work as a group on a project, but need to turn-in materials individually. Please allow for the instructor to choose between one submission for the group or individual submissions for each member of the group.

Tags (3)
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Open
Community Member

Great idea!

Community Contributor

Right now, you have the capacity to create a regular Assignment in which your students submit individual answers. Doesn't that accomplish this aim? How would your proposal be any different?

Just encourage the students to include the name of their group in their Assignment submission.

Community Champion

Confusion often arises when people uses the same word to mean different things.

For example, many colleges talk about a "section" of a course "Math 113 section 01" as being a specific class offering and "Math 113 section 02" is a different course. In Canvas, sections are logical grouping of students and they can be, but they are not limited to, the "traditional" understanding of section. Someone could create multiple sections in a course and call them honors, slackers, A-team, gymnastics, and troublemakers if they wanted. Students can belong to multiple sections. Instructors can use sections when deciding who gets what assignments to do, so they could say the honors students get the really hard assignment while the slackers get the assignment where you just have to put your name on the paper and turn it in to get the full points.

Groups is another word that is often confused. In typical usage, group is a collection of people that are working together. That role is served by two terms in Canvas. The first is the previously mentioned section and the other is a group.

The disconnect comes when people don't understand how Canvas is using the term and they try to use their definition instead of Canvas'. It doesn't make the individual's definition of group wrong, but it does mean that there is going to be confusion because the definitions are very different.

To Canvas, the purpose of a group is to provide a space where individuals can work together toward a common result. A group assignment is one that the group as a whole turns in. You may grade the group assignment individually or collectively, but there is still just a single submission for the entire group.

You may have heard "There is no I in team" to emphasize the importance of being at team player and working together for the group effort. To Canvas, there is no individuals in a group, there is just a group.

That is, the entire purpose of a group assignment is to allow one submission of the collective group effort. There is no sense of individual in a group assignment.

Paraphrasing what @SusanNiemeyer wrote, if you want students to turn in assignments individually, then do not check the box to make it a group assignment. It's not a group assignment (in Canvas language) if they are turning it in individually.

Depending on the purpose of the assignment, it may be beneficial to put the group name in the regular (individual) assignment. If I'm collecting peer evaluations of the other group members, that could be helpful. Most of the time, my grading workflow is enhanced not by the name of the group but by having them list the group members in the document they are submitting. Grading on a regular assignment isn't related to groups, so knowing the group name isn't particularly helpful (for me). Instead, I can open SpeedGrader in multiple browser tabs, grade one student and provide feedback, then switch to another "human group" member in another tab (or window) and paste the comments for the other student and click the same rubric responses. Thinking about that almost makes me want to write a script that would allow me to copy a rubric scores and then paste them in another rubric.

Canvas groups incur a lot of overhead. They get get their own mini-course with announcements, pages, people, discussions, files, conferences, and collaborations. Most of the time, I just want the ability for students to turn in one assignment that they worked on together. I don't want the complexity of a team just for that one benefit. For cases like this, I use regular assignments and tell them to put the names of the people they worked with as I described above.

The main thing is to understand that when you say "group" you and Canvas are most likely talking about different things. Once you understand what Canvas means when it says "group", then you can do what needs done. The Canvas Instructor Guide has a section on Groups with additional information.

Community Champion

I completely understand what Canvas means by Sections and Groups, but there is no good reason why the concept of how a group works in Canvas could not be elaborated.  A group is also a collection of individuals.  If you have a book group, the group acts in concert when they select a single book to read.  They may also do other activities together - as a group.  But as individuals they might do related readings and report on those, or contribute to the conversation from their own individual experiences.  

Community Contributor

I really wish that the Canvas developers had used the term TEAM instead of GROUP.  Everyone understands that TEAM is a "group of people working together towards a common goal." I quite understood that the original proposal involves looking students as being part of "teams" doing collaborative projects (not as students belonging to "sections").

That said, students can, and do, submit individual assignments all the time. This functionality already exists.

What doesn't exist is:

A way for the instructor to determine which group (team) an individual student belongs to in Speedgrader unless the student volunteers that as part of his/her/their submission.

A way to sort those students in Speedgrader so that the instructor can choose to read all of the individual submissions from a group one after another.

@RichardSimcoe Is this what you are hoping to have?

Perhaps the biggest obstacle lies in that students can be placed on multiple "groups" throughout the Course. For example, a student might be in the "red" group for Project 1, the "blue" group for Project 2, and the "green" group for Project 3.

Community Contributor

@hesspe What you are describing here: "But as individuals they might do related readings and report on those, or contribute to the conversation from their own individual experiences" is a GROUP DISCUSSION.

We already have the ability to set up group discussions, just as we already have the ability set up individual and group assignments.


Community Contributor

@KristinL  Has anyone ever given serious thought to relabeling "Groups" as "Teams?"  I can't begin to tell you how many times I and others have explained the difference between "Groups" and "Sections."  It's really very tiresome. 

Community Champion

@SusanNiemeyer "What you are describing here: "But as individuals they might do related readings and report on those, or contribute to the conversation from their own individual experiences" is a GROUP DISCUSSION."

Exactly!  So since the distinction between group and individual has already been breached, why not take the next step make it easy for an instructor to assign individual assignment submissions from members of a group without having to go through the tedious process of entering each name one-by-one in the Assign to box?

I have to say that this is not among my top Canvas priorities (which I suppose are: new quizzes parity with classic quizzes, discussions improvements - without the flaws of the current revision; and major improvements to peer review process/interface) so I hope to make this my last post on the topic.

Community Contributor

@hesspe If I understand correctly, your class might have three Groups (e.g. red, green, and blue) which are working on Group (i.e. "team") Assignments. Then, you'd like to create three different versions of a quiz and assign one version to the red group, another version to the green group, and a third version to the blue group. In this case, you currently would have to create three Sections (red, green, and blue), which would duplicate your already existing Groups (red. green, and blue). I understand your point that this involves twice the work for you: configuring the "Groups" and configuring the "Sections."  I'm not sure that this is what @RichardSimcoe had in mind when he created his original Idea Conversation. Hopefully, he'll explain his proposal in greater detail.

While I believe I understand your proposal, and I understand why you'd find it useful, I doubt that many instructors would want to create separate versions of a Quiz or an Assignment to be given individually to students who are also doing collaborative Group (e.g. Team) work. Creating a red quiz, a green quiz, and a blue quiz would be a lot of extra work for most instructors. Therefore, the demand for your proposed change would probably be quite limited.

The other issue is that many, many instructors are already unsure of how Groups and Sections function. I don't know if your proposal would bring clarity or create more confusion. Again, this where the term "Teams" would have been so much better. 

Community Champion

I gave this five stars because our institution does occasionally have instructors assigning group work done individually by each group member.  I also believe some of the people commenting or rating here might be interested in this long-running idea conversation:

Status changed to: Archived
Comments from Instructure

As part of the new Ideas & Themes process, all ideas in Idea Conversations were reviewed by the Product Team. Any Idea that was associated with an identified theme was moved to the new Idea & Themes space. Any Idea that was not part of the move is being marked as Archived. This will preserve the history of the conversations while also letting Community members know that Instructure will not explore the request at this time.