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 Team
Community Team

 @dfdimatt ​

This is a very thoughtful post!  Thank you so much!  You highlight three very key areas of student feedback!

1) It sounds like you are pleased with the bottom right notification that something has been graded.

2) There is a feature idea that is currently open for voting regarding Crocodoc feedback.  You can find it here:

3) In my searching I did not find a feature idea related to making graded rubrics more visible.  That may be the one are that you want to focus on!

Because of the complexity of the feature development process we ask that the Community focus their feature ideas.  Please focus this idea down to one.  You can find more information about that in How do I create a new feature idea?​  You can also join in and hear our Community Team and Product Team talk about this on Friday in the Community Meet Product Teams; Product Teams Meet the CommunityCanvasLIVE​ session!

There are some great resources around the Canvas Feedback tools.  Here are just a couple

Community Champion

This one liner is splendid:  Don't force users to guess and hunt for feedback. I am with you on that Derek.

New Member

YES!! I provide detailed feedback on every assignment to every student, and they have no way of knowing when they get their grade notification that there is any feedback to read. I have to remind them several times a semester that I spend a lot of time giving this feedback and to please be sure to read it. Now with that said, I would also like some way to be notified when they DO read their feedback and comment back to me. I have no way of knowing if a student responded to my feedback unless I spend all day long, every day, going back over their assignments in the off chance someone read mine and responded.


Community Contributor

We've been suggesting this literally for years. Every tweak of Crocodoc brings with it another hurdle for students. Why is it so difficult to see that immediate, easily accessible feedback is a necessity for students? They should be "confronted" with feedback, not forced to go through hoops to find it.

New Member

Yes!!!  I spend hours making comments and giving feedback for students to improve their work. However, since they can't see the rubric/comments on the same screen as their submission, it is hard for them to know what I'm referring to.  It's even harder when they try to fix it, and they have to try to remember what I said to fix.  Also, it would help for the rubric comments to show up in red or some color because they don't always notice them. 

New Member

I totally agree! Students have to literally search for their in-text feedback. It's insane that we spend hours making these comments that might never be seen.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. November 4, 2015 - Wed. February 3, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

Community Participant

Yes, let's make the feedback VERY visible to students. We've also noticed that students might miss the "view feedback" button if their browser is set to zoom in, so the View Feedback links should be in a place where screen size and resolution won't affect them.

For example:

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.05.27 PM.png

New Member

I totally share this concern.

In the old message system, the typed comments or recorded feedback on an assignment would show up in the list of messages both for me when I selected a student and for the student when he or she opened messages--it was wonderful to be able to see every bit of communication I had with a student during the term and not have to hunt for it. This also meant that I would automatically see if they had posted comments to me. I know this doesn't address crocodoc feedback, but it was a really nice feature that just disappeared.  I know that students can get feedback forwarded to their external e-mail if they set up notifications for that, but there was a really nice sense of conversation when all messages/feedback was organized in one spot in Canvas.

On a related note, I have switched to giving most of my essay feedback as screen capture videos recorded with Camtasia, so I can talk about the essay while pointing to parts of the essay. I generally find that students are more likely to take in this feedback and understand it than they are when I make notes just on crocodoc. It is currently a bit time consuming but would be greatly sped up if a comment option of "screen capture with audio" were added to the video and audio options that currently exist.

New Member

Even sometimes if they are not zoomed! Chrome sometimes shoves it off under the comments based on monitor size/shape and Safari does it nearly always.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.08.32 PM.png

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.08.40 PM.png

Community Member

This is one of the most important Canvas feature requests I've ever seen. I completely agree that forcing students to "hunt" for feedback is insane! To think that all the time we put into writing feedback may all be for naught is very depressing. Isn't this the core process of learning? Assessment and feedback to the students! It doesn't work if the students never read the feedback or don't even know it exists.

Community Participant

I always wondered why the default feedback view wasn't basically identical to instructors' SpeedGrader view: it's so intuitive and easy to find!  Why should the students need a view that is any different from what I see when I'm leaving feedback?  It shows the rubrics, score, general comments, and annotations all on one very easy screen.  There could be a button on the students' assignment page right where instructors get the "SpeedGrader" button, and there could be a drop-down option in the Gradebook, just like there is for instructors.

Community Contributor

Until SpeedGrader 2.0 arrives, I worked out a little javascript hack for our school instance that, assuming a student makes it to their assignment details page, pops open both the Crocodoc preview and rubric automagically.

New Member

Great post.  This is my number one complaint with Canvas.  Students must have a single clearing house for feedback and it must be under Grades.  There is already too much visual noise on the pages.

New Member

This is wonderful. There is no stream lined place for students to view feedback at their discretion. Students should not automatically see on their dashboard the feedback, but have to go to the assignment to view feedback, grades, etc. This way it is always in the same spot, easily accessible, and no privacy issues with viewing grades on the main page.

New Member

I agree, Bellamy, and you said it so well. Let’s make it easy for students to see ALL of their feedback, in one place.

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College - Newark Campus

Community Participant

To illustrate this, look at the two views that were just posted on the Canvas update announcement Feb 8th:

Student view:


Instructor view:


Why are these different?  What advantage is there in the existing student view over the existing instructor view? As it is now, most of my students never even realize I've left them feedback.

New Member

Joel, I totally agree! Please spread the word so we can get the votes to change this.

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College - Newark Campus

Community Participant

I'm glad I found this suggestion and follow-up posts. I just had another student tell me she didn't see the "View Feedback" link and so missed the comments on her submissions. I was ready to post a new suggestion about it when I came across this post.

I warned my students a few times about the hidden View Feedback link, but obviously at least one of them missed my instructions. It looks like I'm going to have to repeat the warning throughout the semester going forward--at least until there's a design update. Even if a completely new design can't be rolled out for a while, just relocating the View Feedback link to somewhere that's visible on smaller computer screens--somewhere that doesn't require scrolling to--would help a lot. All of my students work on laptops (smaller screens).

The suggestion and posts here provide a lot of good feedback for simplifying the student view, especially regarding feedback, so thanks to all of you for bringing it up.

Colleen Harmon

New Member

Rubrics need a breakdown for each rating, not just a description for the criteria.  Students like to earn an A, as well as be able to understand why they earned a different rating.