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Verification that Gradebook comments are viewed by students

Verification that Gradebook comments are viewed by students

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas


  Idea will be open for vote Wed. June 3, 2015 - Wed. September 2, 2015  Learn more about voting...


I would like to be able to see somehow when a gradebook comment I make is viewed by one of my students.  If I make corrections or comments on a submitted assignment I'm not always sure if they're even viewing them unless I get a comment back.  I would like to know that they're seeing it.  This helps cover me if they try to fight a grade or claim they don't understand why they got a particular grade.


  Comments from Instructure...


February 2016 Note

Completed per

As Christi mentioned, there a lot of complexities in knowing when someone views a comment, however we have a strong dependable trigger for knowing when users view feedback.  This feature should help?

Community Member

I'd like to add something that may be related, and that is being able to change the "default" setting somehow so that the students actually CAN see the comments.  Much like teachers set the course view to be "modules" or whatever, if we could create some default student settings.

I usually find that if students aren't reading my comments it's because they don't have that feature turned "on."  If I could turn it on by default as the instructor, then they would have to physically change that.

Community Member

This website is mad confusing.

Adventurer II

Some days I am on task dawn to dusk providing feedback to students.  If a tool came out that told me none of that work mattered as the students didn't bother to view it I would most certainly question my vocation.    Just kidding...  I would then try to devise a means to ensure viewing my feedback is a prerequisite for the next discussion/ assignment/ activity/ etc.  But to do this I would need the data: is the feedback being reviewed?

On the flip side, do students have a visual cue when we leave annotations for them via the Crocodoc tool?  If not, I sure do suggest that notion be up for consideration.  Currently student click Grades > the title of the assignment > View Feedback. If they do this a few times and see nothing annotated the probability they will return to check decreases.​ speaks of this here:

Community Member

For those who haven't seen it, stefaniesanders​ has an intriguing workaround in this discussion: How do you give Extra Credit in your classroom?

Basically, Stefanie puts an extra credit assignment into her comments on an assignment, something like "When you see this comment, you can earn # extra credit points if you do X by [date]."  She tells those who do X where they will see the extra credit points recorded. Then, after she grades those extra credit points, she posts a note to the whole class that says (I'm paraphrasing), "We just finished an extra credit assignment. Only those who completed [assignment] were eligible. If you earned the extra credit, you know how you did it. 56% of you did earn it. But 44% did not. If you were ineligible or among the 44%, you need to . . . ."

She shared a lot more details, including the text of her messages, to that topic, and I think you can see it even if you're not a member of the Canvas Focus Group: Extra Credit   . If you can't see it, though, maybe Stefanie will be willing to share more info here, or put it into a blog post somewhere. I plan to use this idea in several classes. It's extra work, but I hope it will help motivate students to read my comments.  If nothing else, it'll give me some idea of how many students are indeed reading the comments that I spend so much time writing.

Community Team
Community Team

Thank you,​! As I was reading​'s comment (and groaning in sympathy at his remark, "If a tool came out that told me none of that work mattered as the students didn't bother to view it I would most certainly question my vocation"), I was getting ready to share my little idea--and you had already done it! Thanks again! Smiley Happy

Jeff, if you're not able to read the full text of the workaround, just let me know.


I don't know if this is included in the idea the OP has, but I'd like to know that my Croc-o-doc comments have been viewed. 

Community Member​  Maybe you've seen it, but there's another feature idea devoted to crocodoc: ​   It will open for voting on Sept 2.

Community Member

Hey Folks,

I can totally understand the desire to know whether your comments are being viewed. However, if a student has chosen to get your assignment comments via email, we would have no way of knowing if they had opened that email. So the best we could do would be to let you know if they viewed the comment online~ which we don't think is an accurate representation of comments that are read and received. So at best, we could give you incomplete feedback and that would be ultimately be a pretty misleading feature. I'm not sure we are going to have a great way to solve this for you in the near future.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Christi:

I agree, and that's why I voted this feature down. There are other ways to manage student learning that are much more effective. For me, this falls under the "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink" category. So what if they clicked to access a comment, there is no way to demonstrate they actually read it, nor that if they did read it they actually understood it. In the end, the teacher gets very little value for a considerable extra amount of work for the students. Your top 10% students will read everything, whether they need it or not; your bottom 10% might read it thinking it will save their lives, and the middle 80% will find it an inconvenience.

Community Member

I see the point about "lead to water, can't make drink." Generally, I would like to be able to see everything that a student has viewed, as well as to see every student that has viewed a given thing (hence my now-archived feature idea:   )

Not because I imagine that I can make every student do something, but because it is helpful information when interacting with the students. "I notice that you haven't viewed X yet. How about taking a look at X and then letting me know what questions you have after that?" Or, "Last semester, 80% of students who earned a C or lower never looked at X, while those who earned an A or B all looked at X."  If the inconvenience of X outweighs the benefits for most students, I would like to know that too, as I might stop putting lots of hours into X.

When the page viewing records are wrong (because students saw the info via email or whatever), that's a different problem. I gather students can see some comments via notification but others they have to view in a browser. It would be good to know which access reports could be wrong for that reason--in the ideal world where we had access reports.