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Assess documents in Canvas

This page explains how to assess uploaded or scanned documents in an assignment in Canvas. SpeedGrader has many flexible features similar to a traditional assessment made by hand, such as annotations directly in the document, and comments. Read here for more information about it and other things related to the assessment of documents in SpeedGrader.

The guide is divided into 4 parts

  1. How to temporarily hide grades from students
  2. Find SpeedGrader and scanned documents
  3. Use SpeedGrader
  4. When you are done with the assessment

Particularly interesting for scanned documents is the notes and annotations in SpeedGrader, that resembles how many teachers work with handwritten exams. 

1. How to temporarily hide grades from students

What you first want to do is to temporarily hide the grades from the students. This is managed in the Canvas Gradebook, which you find by clicking on “Grades” in your course room. If the current Canvas room is prepared with one of KTH's templates, this setting may already be adjusted.

To the right in the Canvas Gradebook view, click the cogwheel and in the window that appears choose the tab “Grade Posting Policy”. Choose the option “Manually Post Grades”. 

Screenshot "Grade Posting Policy" tab with "Manually Post Grades" checked.

With this setting, the student should not see any new grades, notes or comments that you add to the submission. Sometimes the settings to hide assessment can shift slowly for SpeedGrader. Therefore, always check that hidden assessment is activated in Speedgrader before you start the assessment. You can see it in the crossed-out eye at the top left in Speedgrader.

Icon of an open eye crossed out.

2. How to find SpeedGrader and scanned documents

Canvas allows you to access SpeedGrader from an assignment or from the Gradebook. Below it is shown how Speedgrader is reached through an assignment.

Open Assignments

In Course Navigation, click the Assignments link.

Screenshot Course meny with Assignment highlighted.

View the assignment

Click the name of the assignment.

Screenshot Module with 2 assignments. One of the assignments name is highlighted.

Open SpeedGrader from the Assignment

When you click on your assignment (or quiz), you will see the SpeedGrader link in the sidebar under "Related Items".

Screenshot Opened assignment with SpeedGrader highlighted in the sidebar.

3. Use SpeedGrader

Use SpeedGrader to view submitted assignments, comment on student submissions and grade assignments. If you want to compare two students' assignments at the same time, you can open Canvas in several tabs or windows for the browser. Canvas also handles that several teachers assess the same exam at the same time.

Anonymize students before assessment

There are two ways to anonymize submitted assignments, in the assignments's settings and in SpeedGrader. If you wish to see the status of different students' submissions in the Gradebook, it is recommended that you activate anonymous assessment in SpeedGrader and not in the assignment. If you have already anonymised the assignment in its settings, it is possible to uncheck "Anonymous grading" after the students have submitted.

To enable anonymous assessment in SpeedGrader, click on the cogwheel in the menu at the top of SpeedGrader [1] and then "Options" [2].

Screenshot, shows settings when you click on the cogwheel in speedgrader

Then select "Hide student names in the SpeedGrader" and click "Save Settings".

Screenshot shows the speedgrader settings menu, "hide student names in SpeedGrader" is selected

Find students submissions in SpeedGrader

The right side of the menu bar includes the student list for the assignment. When the students are anonymised, it is displayed as student 1, student 2, etc.

Screenshot Chosen student in Speedgrader with arrow pointing to button to open the drop-down menu.

To open the list of students, click the drop-down menu. SpeedGrader opens the assignment for the first student listed in the student list, arranged alphabetically by last name [1] or unordered if you have chosen to anonymize SpeedGrader. When you view a submission, you can see which student submission you are viewing in the student list compared to the total number of students [2].

Screenshot Drop-down menu of student names. 1 show order of last names, 2 show 1 of 7 students.

View Student Submission

Once you have selected a student, the student’s submission displays in the preview window.

Screenshot Overview of entire preview window in Speedgrader.

If the students have uploaded several files you can see them under Submitted Files. The file you select will be the file that displays in the preview window. Here you can also find the students' scanned documents.

Screenshot Student name on top, submission time and 2 submitted files as downloads below.

Anonymous instructor annotations

Anonymous instructor annotations mean that students do not see who has written comments and assessed their assignments. The setting is recommended as some teachers and assistants have been contacted through Facebook or similar to be asked to explain their assessment. The setting must be made both in the Canvas room and in the assignment. Learn more about how to create an assignment for assessment  with Anonymous instructor annotations.

How to make notes in the document

In SpeedGrader you can make notes in the document. You have different options to choose from. At the top from left to right you will find the options.

Note that annotations are only possible if the uploaded file type is compatible with Canvas DocViewer and is below 100 Mb. Canvas has a list of DocViewer compatible file types .

Screenshot Annotation menu for submitted documents. Numbers 1 to 6 placed at different buttons.
  1. Point annotation: point out a place in the document where you can add a comment.

  2. Highlight annotation: highlight a word or sentence and add a comment.

  3. Text annotation: add a comment anywhere in the document.

  4. Strikeout annotation: mark a place in the document and add a comment.

  5. Draw annotation: draw freely and add a comment.

  6. Area annotation: mark a specific area in the document and add a comment.

Below you can see an example of 6, i.e. where an area in a document has been marked and a comment has been added.

Screenshot Comment in Speedgrader correcting a formula. The comment has a reply button.

How to assign a grade

To assign a grade in SpeedGrader: go to Assessment in the sidebar on the right and enter the student's results in the white field. Press enter or click outside the box to update the grade. You can enter a value or, if you have chosen letter grading, a letter as grade. If you have chosen a grading scheme for the assignment, the value you enter in writing will change according to the grading scheme. You will still see the score and the maximum score above the field even if it has been changed to a letter.

Example of an assignment with a grading scheme of fail (F) (0, 1, 2 or 3 out of 5) and pass (P) (4 or 5 out of 5):

Screenshot 2 assessments in Speedgrader. One 0 of 5 giving the grade F, the other 4 of 5, grade P.

How to make a comment on the entire submission

In the field "Assignment Comments" you can write comments to the students. The comments that the students make during the submission can be seen in this section.

To add a comment to the assignment, enter your text in the Add a comment text field. To increase the size of the comment field, click and drag in the corner of the text field.

Above the comments field you find the comment library button to the right, where you can add and save comments that are used frequently. To use a saved comment you click on it. This function is called comments library and it is connected to your account which means that you will find your saved comments in all your courses. You can edit the comments whenever you like, both in the comment library and after you've chosen one from the library, before the student sees them.

Both you and the students can attach files and media to their comments.

Screenshot Assignment comment box in Speedgrader. Files and videos can be attachments.

How to assess with outcomes

If you have created a rubric with learning objectives for an assignment, the "View rubric" button in SpeedGrader is in the same place as where you can write comments and set a result for the whole assignment. Through the button, you get the assessment rubric for the assignment and can click in it to mark the student's results. Read more about Using outcomes to assess assignments .

4. When you are done grading

After you are done grading you can choose to reveal the grades to the students together with the notes/annotations that you have done in their documents. This is done in SpeedGrader and by clicking the symbol that looks like a crossed over eye in the top left corner and choosing the option “Post grades”.

Screenshot Speedgrader with menu under the crossed out eye. Post grades is highlighted in the menu.

After that choose the option "Everyone" and click the button labelled "Post". Now the grades and your annotations are visible to the students.

Screenshot Post grades options and number of hidden grades. The option Everyone is selected.
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Last changed: Sep 21, 2021