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Community Coach
Community Coach

Taking the Mystery out of Mastery Paths

Presentation Blog


Presentation Title

Taking the Mystery out of Mastery Paths

Abstract / Session Overview

Want an all-access Safari pass to the ins and outs of Mastery Paths? Come learn about the traditional uses and explore the many other ways Mastery Paths allow for student choice and differentiation of course content. Leave this session ready and excited to integrate Mastery Paths into your course!


Date/Time: Thursday, July 11 from 10:55 AM - 11:35 AM  

Location: GB A




Mastery Paths


Feature Ideas

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InstructureCon 2019

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9 Replies
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Fantastic Blog Post‌! Definitely helped me demystify mastery paths! 

mastery paths #qub


Glad it helped and the presentation should make this even more clear! 🙂


Oh how I wish I was going to be there to see it! Good luck at InstructureCon 2019 I'm sure you'll be amazing!


Thank you! Thankfully all of the sessions are recorded and I'll make sure to add the video of the presentation to this information as soon as it's available! 🙂

Community Member

I am so glad you are presenting on this,‌.  I thought you might be interested in some of my observations concerning Mastery Paths.

My institution recently implemented a high-stakes Canvas course that required giving Mastery Paths a pretty good workout.  Because the experience was far less than pleasant, I wanted to share a number of “Gotchas” that we experienced in the hopes that this document might be instructive for others attempting to implement Mastery Paths.

Gotcha 1:  The “Yep… there too…” Gotcha

Mastery Paths is not one thing.  You may think you have set up your path perfectly, but there are a number of places you need to verify and make sure everything that needs to be done is done.

Settings: Mastery Paths must be activated in course Settings first.  This becomes very important when you copy a course as the mastery Path setting does not seem to copy when the copy is done.  Set Mastery Paths in the Settings à Feature Options. It is Off by default.

Assignments:  Quizzes and assignments are most frequently the start of a Mastery Path.  When you have Mastery Paths activated, quizzes and assignments will have an additional tab that allows you to add a Mastery Path based on the results of that quiz or assignment.

This is rather obvious and well-documented, but you may want to add a quiz or assignment as a part of a Mastery Path. For example, you may want to give a post-quiz for students who need remediation on a topic. If you wish to do this, you need to make sure that you remove the “Everyone” default in the Assign to box and change it to “Mastery Paths”.  This is a good thing to know for all types of items added to Mastery Paths – Make sure that in addition to setting up the Mastery Path you also verify that the Assign To area is correctly identified.

Pages:  Pages can be assigned to Mastery Paths.  However, you must ensure that the Page is marked as a Mastery Path item.  Click the Edit button on the page and make sure the checkbox “Allow in mastery paths” is checked.  If you do NOT have this box checked BEFORE you start setting up your Mastery Path, you will not be able to locate and add the Page to your path.

One note on Pages: When you assign a Page to a Mastery Path, Canvas perceives it as an Assignment – even though it is not technically an Assignment.  This becomes a big problem when you copy a course and you find a load of “Imported Assignments” that are actually pages added to your Assignment Index – and to your gradebook.  My workaround for this has been to move these assignments into a Mastery Path assignment group and then filter those out when I view the gradebook (using the New Gradebook).  If you delete those assignments, they delete themselves out of the Mastery Path too. Yikes.

Gotcha 2: Module Requirements cannot be mastery of content

So you thought you could create a module brimming with cool Mastery Paths and ensure that students completed their specific path before they could progress to the next module.  Nope. You cannot use a Mastery Path item as a Module requirement.  The reason, per Canvas L2 support, is that if you required a student to complete an item that is NOT in one of the student’s Mastery Paths, s/he would never be able to get out of that module.  Point made, but there are also some very good reasons one might wish to create three Mastery Paths, each ending in a “Complete” notification and then make sure that students have to receive one of those three “Complete” notifications before they move on to the next module. Unfortunately, that cannot be done. ONLY items that are assigned to EVERYONE (and not in Mastery Paths) can be used to set Module requirements.

Gotcha 3:  Path Order … It Matters

Having created many, many modules, one kind of assumes that module order is the order students will progress through items.  This is not the case when students are on a Mastery Path.

When you create a Mastery Path, you may set multiple items in each path. The items can be AND items (student must do both) or OR items (students must do one of two things.  It is important that IF you wish the order to be specified (first thing to do followed by second thing to do), you must order them in the Path in that order.   This becomes important when student use the Next buttons. Even though the Module is ordered in a certain way, Mastery Path settings over-ride module order.  So, the Next button will be the next item in the Path – NOT the next item in the module once the student is on a Mastery Path. 

Also be aware that when you add items into a Mastery Path, the item list will be in random order (or at least an order I could find NO clear reason for). Just be prepared to see a randomized list of Mastery item options and scroll through to find the one you are looking for.

NOTE: You can add items from ANY module to Mastery Paths.  This can be helpful in that you can use this as a form of gating since you will not be able to use requirements and prerequisites for gating. In my case, I ended each path IN A MODULE with the first item in the next module and then Assigned that item ONLY to Mastery Paths.  This provided the gating I wanted between modules.

Gotcha 4: Oh so slowwww……

Be aware that if you use an auto-graded quiz as the starting point for a Mastery Path, the Mastery Path processes more slowly than the auto-grading.  Students will see their score on the quiz, but they may well get a notification that the Master Path is still processing when they go to the Next button.  If they click the Next button before they read that warning, they will be thrown back to the Modules page.  They will need to refresh the page until the Next button actually indicates the next item in their Mastery Path.  Even in a quiz with one item, there were times I had to wait through two refreshes before the Next button sent me on to the next item in my path. It is very important that students are aware of this.

Gotcha 5:  Grading

As one might anticipate, if you use Mastery Paths for grading, there will be some complexities. We wanted to ensure that students received the same credit for each of the different path options. 

Here is the scenario:

Student takes 20 point quiz. 

  • If they get at least 80% on the quiz, they progress out of the module.
  • If they get less than 80%, they must do a remedial activity and then re-test. The second test is worth 20 points as well and they must receive 80% in order to pass.

 In order to ensure that all students would get 80% and only 80% of the available points, we used Assignment Groups for each module and then had Canvas drop the lowest score.  This ensured that students would get the score they received EITHER from the first or the second quiz.  I am just sharing this one because It took some thinking and configuring to figure out how to score Mastery Paths and this solution seems to be working quite nicely.

Highlighted, wow! What great insight into MasteryPaths!! I've dealt with most of these issues, but for a couple, I'm going to do some additional testing! Thank you so much for taking the time to post all of this!


Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi Kona, was your session recorded and posted?  I'm looking through the recorded sessions and can't find it -- but for some reason I thought I had seen it before...and can't find it now.

0 Kudos
Highlighted‌, here is the link to the recording of Kona's session:  


Thanks! This was such a helpful session 🙂

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