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  8.  — Rubrics and criteria in Canvas

Rubrics and criteria in Canvas

Marking rubrics can be added to Canvas Assignments. You can use the rubric to grade submissions in SpeedGrader.

Criteria, marking guides and rubrics

Criteria are descriptions of the standards you are looking for in an assignment. These form the basis of both marking guides and rubrics.

A marking guide is open to subjective judgement and so an assessment can be variable/contestable, but also more flexible. Marking guides might leave the criteria fairly vague to enable assessment in the judgement of the marker, whereas rubrics are pre-set scoring sheets that specify the precise standards required to meet each grade.

Download a sample marking criteria (MS Word)

Example marking criteria

Download a sample rubric (MS Word)

Example rubric

Video – A quick overview: Dr Lindsay Diggelmann (Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning – Faculty of Arts) outlines the benefits of Rubrics and how to set these up in Canvas.

Video – a comprehensive walkthrough: Chun Li demonstrates creating rubrics and hiding grades from students in Canvas.

Rubrics in detail

A rubric judges the student’s work or performance, usually connected to an assessment task. It:

  • Guides students and markers as to the quality expected for identified criteria.
  • Is linked to the learning outcomes being assessed (action verb, content, context) and the assessment task itself. If you are allocating marks or points to criteria, this should be clearly outlined in the assessment task.

In general, the more detail provided when setting the marking criteria and grade allocation, the more specific and clear the rubric is. The assessment will be be less contestable and subjective, allowing for greater consistency across a range of markers.

There are arguments for and against the inflexibility of rubrics. Criteria must be pre-set, so in a fundamental/philosophical sense, there is no room for creativity and divergent viewpoints, unless this is specifically acknowledged, accounted for and represented in the rubric design. Hence, a wonderfully innovative idea might score 0% if it had not been predicted and accounted for in the criteria. However, rubrics eliminate ambiguity, whereby students determine what is expected of them and marking is less open to interpretation. To this end, rubrics are considered by many to be a fairer, more transparent and equitable method of assessment for the learner.

Rubrics in Canvas

Important note: Rubrics for Assignments are visible as soon as you publish a Canvas Assignment, even if it is before the Assignment’s availability date.

  • If you would not like students to see the rubric ahead of the assessment, add the marking rubric after the assessment period is finished, but before you start marking.
  • If you would like students to view the rubric during their assessment, you can upload a PDF file of the rubric to the Assignment instructions and lock the file so it is available only during the assessment period.
  • Alternatively, you could add the rubric to the Assignment, but only publish the Assignment just before the assessment period.
    Note that this introduces some risk if you have internet connection problems and are not able to publish the assessment for your students at the correct time.

While rubrics can be added to Canvas Quizzes, they cannot be used to mark and are not visible to the students at the time they take the assessment. You may wish to provide the rubric within the question instructions, e.g., a PDF of the marking rubric, to give students clear guidelines for how the assessment will be marked.

Consider whether it would be appropriate to provide example rubrics for discursive/essay questions.

About Learning Outcomes and Rubrics in Canvas

An academic’s perspective

Dr Marie McEntee talks about how to use Learning Outcomes and Rubrics in Canvas to engage students and ensure consistency in marking. She demonstrates how to use Rubric analytics to gain insights into student’s performance and to foster improvements in learning outcomes.

A walkthrough by our Canvas facilitator

Chun Li demonstrates linking rubrics to Outcomes in Canvas. The video opens in Panopto, staff login required.


Rubrics in Canvas are an effective tool for communicating expectations and criterion for attaining each level of scoring. Rubrics are used as grading criteria for students and can be added to assignments, quizzes, and graded discussion.

Video – Canvas tutorial on Rubrics

Page updated 17/10/2023 (fixed video link)

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