Change verbiage for "Treat Ungraded as Zeroes"

We've had a number of instructors be confused by this setting. Since the gradebook does not automatically put in zeroes for assignments that students have not completed, some instructors will see this setting in the gradebook and think that by clicking this option, it will automatically change all of the "-" marks to 0's for them.


When Final Grades are submitted, we receive a number of calls from instructors asking why the Final Grades appear differently from Webcourses. We then have to explain it's because they did not insert 0's into the "-" marks and/or misunderstood the "Treat Ungraded as Zeroes" option.


I believe it would be help for instructors if this option was changed to "View ungraded as Zeroes." This gives the idea that you are "viewing" the gradebook with 0's, which is what this option is intended for. By the word "Treat" it gives instructors the idea that it is actually making ("treating") those ungraded assignments as 0's. By changing the verbiage, this setting will be a little clearer for instructors.


Also, it may be even more helpful if after this setting is clicked a banner would appear at the top of the gradebook saying something to this effect: "This setting is only a temporary view. This does not change the actual scores within the gradebook." This would also help prevent confusion for instructors.

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2021-02-20).

Community Contributor

Or when treat zeros as ungraded assignments is selected it actually does that (​).

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hey all,

I completely agree that this verbiage and action is confusing. We are working on a design for better verbiage and a cleaner solution to this problem.

I want to make sure we agree on what the problem is. To me it has two parts.

  1. Teachers don't want to have to hunt through the gradebook to award zeros to the assignments that are missing or late.
  2. Teachers want to be able to see what a student's grade might be if they didn't turn in any of the missing assignments (I'm told this is the original reason for the feature). The verbiage for "treat ungraded as zero" implies that the grade is actually being awarded and doesn't clearly indicate that the teacher is the only one seeing these zeroes being awarded (students don't see the zeros).

What do you all think? Would you agree that those are the primary problems?

Coach Emeritus

Yes, that sounds about right to me!

Community Contributor

Yes, those are the primary problems that I see.

Community Contributor

I love the idea of changing the verbiage on this particular feature.  At our college, we have a Quality Control Specialist who monitors online faculty who do not enter a zero when the student has not submitted their assignment.  Some faculty think that simply checking "Treat ungraded as zeros" is the solution that solves this.  They don't know that it is not shown on the student side, and they have to actually ENTER in the zero in the gradebook for it to show.  I like the idea of having "a banner top of the gradebook saying something to this effect: "This setting is only a temporary view. This does not change the actual scores within the gradebook."  Please fix this!

Community Champion

Our concern is not the verbiage, but the action. "Treat ungraded as 0" implies the quiz or assignment has been administered. Our faculty are having difficulty using this setting because the Total column appears entirely too low and confuses all when the quiz or assignment "treated as 0" hasn't even been administered yet. Setting an available or due date has no effect, either.  I will treat this separately and enter it as a separate idea if that is preferable. Thanks!

Community Novice

We just stumbled across this issue today. This has to change, and quickly! What is the help in even having this setting if it only affects the teacher view? I wish we would have learned this BEFORE grades were posted. Not a happy camper!

Community Novice

I agree with the above but also found the term "ungraded" confusing.  It is not that the assignment has not been graded (by computer?  By me?), it is that it is past due and not attempted by the student. "past due and not submitted" perhaps?

Community Participant

I wish this feature could distinguish between assignments that are past due and those that are not yet due.

Community Member

In the ideas for submission and the ideas for voting areas, there appear to be several ideas floating around that are getting at this issue with the treating ungraded items as zeros.

As others have commented here, the problem is that currently an assignment that is past due will only get a score if an instructor manually goes into the grade book and adds zeros for students who did not complete/submit.

Having the ability to tell Canvas that I want an assignment grade to default to zero after a particular date would help to keep the grade book accurate. Perhaps this could be an overall course setting or perhaps it could be a check box next to the due date on each assignment.