We all want the best possible outcome! Preview improvements for finding and managing them in Canvas.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
9 10 54.1K

Hey, Canvas Outcomes fans! I’m excited to share information on a forthcoming release we’re calling “Improved Outcome Management.” As the keystones of education, outcomes (aka standards, learning targets, and more) are essential to the teaching and learning process. They represent a vision for educating students. Given this, you can imagine how important it is to the Outcomes Team to put together a workflow that helps all users from accounts administrators to instructors make important decisions about outcomes within their account or course. We want to save you time while maximizing the value you get out of Canvas Outcomes!

One example of how this may be difficult currently - in my home state of North Carolina, there are currently 5,473 PreK-12 standards (thank you Academic Benchmarks for helping us stay accurate and up to date!). Finding the right outcome to connect to a quiz item or assignment can be a needle-in-haystack nightmare! Rather than spending time on that, we want to empower educators to help students improve towards mastery on what is most important. Of the full list, a 2nd-grade classroom teacher focusing on multiple subject areas likely needs to pay most attention to 175 outcomes and an 8th-grade math teacher 43 outcomes and they can benefit by only bringing the outcomes they need into a Canvas course. 

To make creating, finding, organizing, and editing outcomes easier, we’ve overhauled the system for taking these actions. The process started with engaging customers (maybe even including you!) in interviews and feedback sessions to identify pain points and provide input on designs. Throughout, we kept an eye on simplicity to provide you a clean interface for efficiently doing your work. Currently, our incredibly talented development and design team is hard at work bringing this vision to life. I’m lucky to get to work with such a committed group of people! I’d like to highlight a few of the improvements. Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 12.22.49 PM.png

First, we’ve moved to a “tree browser” to navigate through and display the structure of groups on the left side of the screen. This allows you to quickly drill down through groups to find the outcomes you need. Selecting any group will allow you to view all of the outcomes in that group, including any subgroups that are present. Once selected, also clearly display how many outcomes are in a group so it is clear whether you would be adding 40 or 4,000 into a course. Second, we’ve added the ability to search within any selected group using a term like “subtraction” or an identifier like “MA.NC.2.OA.” Outcomes and groups can be easily edited, moved, or removed by clicking the 3 dot kebab-menu next to each. All of this will be completely responsive so that no matter what device you’re using, you’ll be able to manage outcomes with ease. 

Stay tuned for an update in the Canvas Release Notes for when you can try out Improved Outcome Management over the next few months. Because we are sensitive to making a change during the back-to-school period, customers will need to opt-in or turn on this feature preview in Canvas Admin settings upon release. We look forward to continuing to enhance the user experience for outcomes. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Community Team
Community Team

Thank you for sharing!

These changes look wonderful. I can't wait to try them with the courses I teach! Outcomes are so helpful when emphasizing growth and skill development, and I find that they are powerful communicative tools as well. I look forward to learning more about the updates in future Release Notes.

I hope that these changes encourage more Canvas users to explore the power of Outcomes!

Community Participant

@BenFriedman wonderful improvements!  I know our faculty will really appreciate this!  Will faculty be able to import from different branches of the tree at the same time?  Or would they go through two separate workflows to make that happen?  Excited for these and other great changes your leadership will bring!

Community Participant

Will download CSV be coming so people can share their outcome setups with each other? Import is already built.

Community Participant

Will these interface changes also occur in the Admin institutional outcomes banks?

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We currently use nested folders to provide drill down access to 1648 course level student learning outcomes organized by academic discipline and two letter course code prefixes.

Screen Shot 2021-08-07 at 12.44.00.png

Will the tree interface appear here too? We will need to respond with updated support materials for faculty if these interfaces are changing.

Community Champion

I asked in the release FAQ, but I figured it might be a good idea to post here, too.

When we toggled this on in beta, we lost our Outcome scoring rubrics. A major piece of our monitoring is based on attaching Outcomes via Rubrics to assignments and then teachers give granular feedback on the work using the rubric and comments. 

With the new workflow, the scoring tools have been removed and I couldn't figure out a way to attach one to a rubric to use on an assignment. Is that just a portion of the Outcomes that haven't been built out with the new management tool yet? Or is that something that's going to be removed? (Please don't say yes.)

Community Participant


Our faculty are trying to find rubrics from prior courses - those may or may not have outcomes attached. Currently the list of rubrics to find show up by user when they use the Find Rubric feature in an assignment. The problem occurs when faculty want to find the rubric from a specific course in a specific term. Our courses have the same course number and section identifiers from term to term and it lists only the course title. Is it possible to have the courses listed use the nickname instead like it does with Commons and other tools?

Community Participant


I'm wondering if I could connect with you or if you could put me in touch with members of the team you worked with on outcomes (school district folk)?  We have been using Canvas and standards based learning for 4 years.  We have struggled through efficiency and have managed to set up Canvas in a way that somewhat works for SBL.  However, I'd love to connect with others to see if they have other ideas and ways we could benefit from. Thanks!

Community Champion

I'd like to second what @ajuelmen asked, if we could do some kind of call to show how we've worked with Outcomes in our district for Standards Based Grading. We have some tooling in place, but a lot of our issues would be solved with some tweaks to how Outcomes work natively in Canvas and I would love to be able to give that feedback in person.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks for your feedback and comments! We also have a Q&A page for this feature and a screencast for a closer look. 

@mmyers3 Yes, it is possible to select Outcomes from across the "tree browser" and import them at one time. We're hoping this makes bringing Outcomes into a course more efficient!

@dkpst5 We don't have plans currently to add a download feature here but we will take a look at it. Admin are able to do this by going to Settings > Reports and then running the "Outcome Export" report but this will not include Outcomes created at the course level. 

@danaleeling Yes, this feature will also be available at the admin level. 

@govreacladmin Thanks for sharing this need - I'll communicate it to our "Evaluate" team that oversees rubrics.

@ajuelmen & @bbennett2 Exciting that you are engaged in standards-based grading and I'd love to hear more about where this is working for you and not. My next blog will be centered on SBG and Competency-Based Education and there will be an opportunity to provide some input, both through a survey and an interview. Stay tuned!

Community Member

The thing that we are struggling with in Outcomes is the limited amount of Calculation Options.  Our district wants average or specifically average of the last 3.  It is an option in our SIS, but this is not currently possible in Canvas.