Making feedback more visible to students

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the  Canvas Release Notes (2021-11-20).

I'm teaching a course using Canvas. This is the second semester I've used it. I like Canvas overall, but I've discovered that my students have a difficult time reading the feedback that I provide on their online assignment submissions because the feedback is split into three different locations, and when student view an assignment that I've graded, there is no visual indication of whether feedback is present, and no unified display of that feedback. I'd like the feedback to be visible by default, or else some kind of visually loud indicator present to show them there is feedback. Let me explain:


  1. Say I grade an assignment that a student submitted. They go to the assignment, and can see straight-away a general comment on the lower right-hand side. That's visible by default. Fine and good.
  2. But what about all the comments embedded in the document view? Those are not automatically displayed, and there is no marker to show that such comments have been embedded in the document. There should be at minimum a big icon saying feedback is embedded, for sure, so go look at it. Currently, "View Feedback" link is always present, regardless of whether feedback has been embedded or not.
  3. Furthermore, the rubric grade is displayed in the upper-right corner, but the detailed rubric view is hidden until students think to click "Show Rubric"... yet even then, the written feedback that I have provided on each rubric criteria remains hidden from view! Students have to hunt for that feedback by clicking the easily-overlooked speech-bubble icon one-at-a-time for each criterion. But I don't necessarily write a comment for each criterion, and there is no visual sign or indication that a comment has been written or not.


How are students supposed to know and remember to check all of these various locations to receive the complete set of feedback provided by their instructors? It is utterly inefficient and defeatist because students don't seem to realize that all this feedback is sitting there waiting for them--and they don't know to look for it.


Now, from a student point of view, I don't want to have to click in so many different places to hunt (perhaps fruitlessly) for feedback that my instructor might or might not have left for me (since there is no indicator signalling the existence of written comments).


The fact that written feedback has been given within the submitted file and within the rubric should be foregrounded--it should be made highly visible to the students checking their grades. That feedback is part of the learning process. It is essential for students to read that feedback in order to improve their work. If they don't know it is there, what is the point?


Don't force users to guess and hunt for feedback. They won't do it. Make it obvious that the feedback has been given by putting some kind of big symbol or message next to the assignment doc (or by displaying the assignment by default so students can see that margin comments etc have been embedded in the file) and also by automatically displaying the rubric WITH the written feedback already visible. Don't make the students click in three hundred different places to get all their feedback for a single assignment. Please.

Community Member

I think there are many of us who can't understand why that under "Submission Details," "View Feedback" can't simply be on by default.  You say it's not simple.  Does it involve a major overhaul of the interface?  Is this part of some major change you have in the works?  We've been waiting years for this simple change while more obscure features seem to be implemented.  Any information would lessen our frustration.  As you know, feedback on papers is extremely important and it seems like Canvas is actively hiding that information despite having a robust annotation system.

Community Champion

Because feedback is critical to learning, I've been following this discussion about" modifiedtitle="...

I'd appreciate any ideas to clarify our feedback information for students! Here's the page:

Grades & Feedback : Student Resources 

Community Explorer

Hey Seth, could you explain how this works? do students need to have this script running for it to work?

Community Participant

Thanks for your quick response and glad to see that it it very much on the radar for development.. 

Community Novice

I'm glad to read this is on the radar.  I concur with everyone commenting here that it really should be priority #1.

Community Member

This is true.  No matter how many comments I put for my students, they always manage to not see any of the comments for the assignments.

Community Contributor

My thoughts EXACTLY! I can't count the number of times students have said they didn't see my inline (that is, on the assignment) comments...and sometimes, those comments are CRUCIAL. For instance, I teach public speaking, and prior to their informative speech I ask them to submit a proposal so I can review it and give them feedback, suggestions, etc. Sometimes I have to tell them the speech won't work as an informative one, because it's persuasive...bit if the student can't find or doesn't see my comments, they screw up on their speech!  Please, PLEASE make instructor comments (on assignments themselves) MUCH more visible!

Community Novice

The impact that feature idea could have on student learning is valuable.  Students appreciates the data as much as the teacher needs it to drive instruction.  They are held accountable for their learning, so it makes sense for access to the progress and information that could motivate their involvement.  

Community Novice

This idea is CRITICAL! Much of the time the students will see a change in the grade and ask me "why?" Even though I give them a thorough tour of Canvas, and even require "checking their feedback" as bellwork, many of them still don't know where to go look. I often allow corrections, and if they can't see their feedback, too much time passes by and they won't make the corrections! This needs to be VERY obvious to the students. I love that we have this feature, but it needs to be a prominent feature. Thank you for this suggestion!

Community Novice

I think streamlining this would be fantastic. As it is, the majority of my students struggle to find feedback. I've moved from using the annotations within a document because it's just so difficult for them to find them. So I usually leave comments on the assignment since that is easier for them to find on their own or explain how to navigate to. This isn't using the LMS to it's full advantage but it's more user friendly for my less tech savvy students. If there was a better system for them to see all feedback in one go, that would be more useful for both teacher and student. And if they screen looked similar between teacher and student, that would help us teacher to talk students through how to view feedback. There's only so much that student view can do for us. And it tends to fail in showing this.