[Rubrics] Adapt Canvas Rubrics to Conventional Rubric Design

This idea suggests additional improvements to Canvas rubrics so they conform with conventional rubric design. Although the updated rubric features were improved from the original Canvas release, some fine tuning is still needed, namely, how the grading grid is displayed and adding descriptions in the Rating header. Scroll down to the current/proposed illustrations posted below for a quick view of this idea.


As an Instructional Designer for a large school district in Florida, I create rubrics alongside the assignments we create and curate — much of the time I'm working to convert the pedagogical content given to our team by teachers. Most of the rubrics I receive contain brief descriptions in the header row of the scoring column. Canvas doesn't provide that space in its rubrics.


As a work-around, I attempted to create a rating header containing these brief descriptions. Each had a zero-point score. To my surprise, Canvas then sorted the rating titles alphabetically resulting in misaligned ratings for the remaining body of the rubric. Just couldn't accomplish a full digital interactive copy of the rubrics I'd been provided.


Canvas rubrics would be so much easier to use if they followed a format standard in the teaching profession. The first digital rubrics were created with spreadsheets and then later with HTML tables, which mirrored what teachers had done with paper and ruler for decades. Following this standard format convention would be a fantastic improvement for Canvas over what is now available.


Here's the very best workaround I could produce using the Canvas rubric construction space.

  • Notice that the Rating Descriptions are ordered by placing alphabetical sorters in front of the rating labels.
  • Also, notice that what should be displayed as a evenly plotted grid has varying widths of columns for each criterion.
  • Finally, notice that Canvas requires a Rating Title for each rating of each criterion, resulting an even more text-heavy rubric with redundant text.


Current Canvas Rubric Format

Here is the proposed Canvas rubric improvement.

Proposed Canvas Rubric Format

  • The improved rubric follows generally accepted format, making it more user friendly and more usable.
  • The proposed rubric allows for varying point ratings, but points and rating labels would not be required.
  • This rubric improvement idea also doesn't require point values in the Ratings Header, but presented as an option would go a long way to simplifying the look of the rubric by avoiding repetitious and redundant information.


This idea may not cover all aspects of optimal rubric creation and usage, but I strived to included the most used aspects that are currently missing (without awkward workarounds). I also groomed this idea to be easily implemented by Canvas s/w engineers. If this improved rubric would be useful to you as a teacher, and easy to implement as an engineer, please vote it UP.

Added to Theme

Improved rubric creation and usability Theme Status: In Development

Community Team
Community Team


I can see why this request would be made for individuals that use very simply structured rubrics, but in the example you define, how would you recommend solving for the following?

  1. criteria with variable points or weighting (i.e. not all worth the same)
  2. criteria with variable ratings (e.g. criteria 1 has 3, criteria 2 has 3, criteria 3 has 4)

See, the rubric that exists was actually designed to allow more flexibility, which we all know can add complexity, but it allows more instructors to assess without having to conform to a specific format.

Community Contributor

Thank you for the clarification questions,  @Renee_Carney ‌, I think I understand what you're asking. If my answers show a misunderstanding, please let me know!

1. For criteria with variable points or weighting, then the rating header wouldn't have points as part of the description. Rating descriptions are usually phrased to guide the teacher/grader in this subjective assessment exercise. Scoring ranges could also be used on a criterion to criterion basis. Again, the listing points in the rating header is descriptive only.

2. Criteria could have variable ratings, but if you think about it, wouldn't that make grading unnecessarily complicated for teachers, and blur goals for students? The reason for clear learning goals is to set up reasonable expectations for performance by students. Wouldn't it be just as easy to bifurcate a criterion achievement score to match the overall pattern of the rubric?

In the K-12 world, establishing clear goals and expectations is the key to a good lesson for students, even if that compels teachers to conform to the format they created in the first place! Consistency and simplicity within a lesson actually gives students more choice, and allows them to be more creative. A rubric that is consistent and easy to understand is equally important.

Thanks for the prompt that allowed me to present a pedagogical explanation.



Community Team
Community Team


I taught Pre-K-8 for 5 years so I completely agree with clear goals and expectations, and rubrics are one of my favorite tools to use.  In-fact I had many rubrics that looked just like your mockup before I started using Canvas.  I will admit it was a shift for me but I grew to appreciate the flexibility that is the current structure.  I'm not trying to discredit your suggestion at all, but instead say that I would hate to see us lose the flexibility.

So my suggestion for this idea would be to not focus on changing the one that is there, but instead maybe make the suggestion for a secondary rubric structure option? 

Community Contributor

I agree entirely,  @Renee_Carney ‌, that is what I'm suggesting, and why I referred to this feature as an option teachers/designers could use, not be required to use. How would you suggest I revise this idea to call for a secondary rubric structure without having to start all over again? Can I just retitle this idea in Edit mode?

BTW, there are several ideas in CC Studio that suggest various improvements to rubrics, such as  @Chris_Hofer ‌'s https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/11974-headers-in-rubrics-for-informational-text which suggests grouping criteria under functional headers, such as you would see the rubrics across K-12 instructional materials. Are you simply suggesting a title change as I surmised above so this idea gets more traction?

Thanks again,


Community Team
Community Team

yes, a title change so that people know it is an as for a separate feature and not to replace the existing.

Community Participant

In my rubric, it appears that students can only see the long description of the rating if their score happens to fall on a breaking point.  For example, essay Content is worth 30 points, and a score of 28-30 is excellent.  If they only get 28 points, they see "no details" instead of seeing the long description.  

I tried duplicating the rubric and removing points, but that means I have to assign ratings for each criterion offline, and only input the total score.

I was excited to use rubrics so my students could see exactly how I arrived at their scores, but it turns out they can't.  Am I missing something here?  Thanks for any suggestions!

Community Contributor

Yes to column headers. Yes to a grid, instead of the current headache-inducing alphabet soup that is variable column widths.  It would be great to have percentage-based rubrics as well.

Canvas is generally wonderful, but the Rubrics tool needs a lot of work.

Community Champion

I would love this design as an option. Sometimes this design would really simply building a rubric and how easy it is to read. I do think we need the ability to have flexibility as we sometimes have criterion that are worth different points than others.

Community Coach
Community Coach

I believe the reason that Canvas is alphabetizing your first row (with the zeros) is because it's expecting different point values in that row (from highest to lowest).  Since you have all zeros, it's putting information in that row in an order that might not be preferred.

Also, the "Rating Description" field that you are using in your rubric (the non-bold text) doesn't currently show up for students in mobile devices (specifically the Canvas apps).  The bold text will show up, however.  So, if you use the "Rating Description", it's important to know that students on mobile wouldn't see the full text, and they'd need to view it on a PC or via a mobile web browser.

Community Novice

I would definitely use the suggested rubric type over the current version. 

My biggest issue with rubric creation is that if you create it on the assignment (instead of in "manage rubrics") when you delete it deletes it entirely from the course. Whereas if you create it in "manage rubrics" & then attach to an assignment and then delete it does not delete it from the course. Ideally, it would not delete entirely from the course when you create it on the assignment.