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Names and alphabetization

Names and alphabetization

0 Kudos

Can I recommend that students with two last names (non-hyphenated) in Canvas courses be listed in the roster according to their first last name and not their second last name when sorting by last name? This will make the Canvas listing of students line up with most official campus rosters. This makes doing things like keeping track of grades, copying and pasting scores, etc. much much much easier.

9 Comments
Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Moderating
 
Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Open for Conversation
 
chriscas
Community Champion

Hi @linguist ,

I'm fairly certain that when sorting by last name, sorting is done by whatever the beginning (first word) of the last name is.  Do you happen to know how users are created in your Canvas instance?  I have a feeling the first name field actually contains the first word of the user's last name.  When users are created, it's best to verify everything is done correctly.  In the UI, check the sortable name.  In an SIS file, send the first name and last name as two separate fields.  When just three words are entered for a name, there really is no way for Canvas to know what the first name and what the last name are.  I think the usual assumption is a first name, middle name, and last name.  All of that can definitely be accounted for though when users are created or edited.

-Chris

linguist
Community Member

I'm not IT (my campus IT sent me here), so I really can't comment on much of this but to say that Canvas sorts students with two separate surnames by their last surname whereas virtually every other database on earth uses the first surname. I don't seem to have any control over how names are entered in our Canvas courses; these fields are all propagated automatically. I'm not sure where the information is from, but I would think the registrar's office. It seems middle names are not permitted. This helps solve the current matter, but creates its own problems.

chriscas
Community Champion

@linguist ,

I'd recommend trying to talk to someone in your IT department about this.  I'm fairly certain they just aren't sending the user's first and last names to Canvas in the correct way.  The IT people can even post here in the community if they need help getting this resolved!

-Chris

linguist
Community Member

IT sends me here, y'all send me to IT, ... 😂 It's okay, I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration. 🙏 I am fairly certain this is something that needs to be fixed at my institution's level which is why I went to them first, but no one there wants to earn their salary it seems. Well, worth a shot.

...

If I can be frank, this problem is more than nagging; it drastically slows down the grading process and it means that Latino students, who by and large are the ones with the separate surnames, are more likely to have their grade entered incorrectly. I have a failsafe in my grading methodology to prevent this, but that also takes time and lengthens the grading process unnecessarily.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Moderating
 
Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@linguist 

As @chriscas noted, this may well have to do with how your school enters the names; my testing also indicated that as long as I entered the actual last name as the last name in the Sortable Name field, the People tab alphabetized correctly. It sounds like your local IT department sent you here, but you and they might be well served to discuss this with Canvas Support directly; they might well be able to help your organization find a user provisioning solution that is consistent with your SIS.

We'll keep this idea in Moderating status and look forward to hearing the results of your investigation.

Thanks.

linguist
Community Member

Thank you most sincerely, Stefanie!

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