Frequently Asked Questions

How is assessment different from grading?

Generally, grading evaluates individual students’ learning and performance across an entire project or class. Although grades are sometimes treated as a proxy for student learning, they are not always a reliable measure. Moreover, they incorporate criteria – such as attendance, participation, and effort – that are not direct measures of learning. Even in single assignments or exams, it is not always the case that the entire assignment or exam is graded solely on the single criteria delineated in one Student Learning Outcome.


The goal ofassessmentis to improve student learning. Assignments and exams can be used both for grading and for assessment. But, assessment goes beyond grading by systematically examining student learning on very specific criteria which are often more narrow than the scope of a long research report or a final cumulative exam. Assessment of individual SLOs specific to General Education or to an entire academic program should result in clear, measure of learning on one SLO. That discreet measure can then be used to inform improvement in the delivery of information in a class or in a series of courses that make up a degree program.


Are there any reports I need to file at the end of the semester if I use Canvas for assessment?

There are no Excel files or examples of student work to upload if you use Canvas for assessment, because the assessment scores and the student work are in Canvas and can be accessed for reporting. There is a brief survey distributed via email by the Office of Assessment and Accreditation that you must complete that notifies the office that you used Canvas for assessment. Otherwise, the A&A Office can’t tell which professors used Canvas and which used the older method of uploading files in the Qualtrics Survey sent via email.


When should I begin setting up outcomes in my course in Canvas?

Ideally, setup outcomes in your Canvas course at the beginning of the semester. Faculty that wait until the end of the semester often struggle, and must contend with others needing help from support staff. The sooner outcomes are setup in the course, the more time you will have to work with support staff to troubleshoot, if needed. And the bonus is that assessment does not have to interfere with final grading and other end-of-semester demands on your time.


What types of Canvas assignments can be associated with an outcome?

Outcomes are imported into rubrics. Rubrics can be added to assignments, quizzes, or discussions. In the case of quizzes, if you have more than one outcome to assess, create a separate quiz for each outcome. To make the assessment task as efficient as possible consider designing a quiz with 5 questions. On a 5-question quiz, all correct equals 5, 4 correct equals a score of 4 and so on. Associating an outcome with an individual question or questions set within a single quiz is currently in beta testing by Instructure.

Do I need to create my own outcome in Canvas?

No, each UC outcome is already in Canvas, and each outcome has its own pre-built rating scale that is imported into the assignment’s rubric. Big picture, what you need to do is 1) import the outcome (see WalkThru) into your course, 2) create the assignment (see WalkThru) associated with the outcome, and 3) add the rubric with the appropriate imported outcome (see WalkThru) to the assignment.


Do I need to create my own rubric in Canvas to go with the outcome I am assessing?

Yes, once you pull an outcome into your course, import its associated rating with a rubric attached to an assignment, discussion, or quiz.


The WalkThru is not working for me, what do I do?

If a WalkThru is not working or you are unsure if you successfully completed a WalkThru, please contact your Academic Technology Services Director. If it is after hours, contact the IT Help Desk or Instructure Support. Instructure Support is available 24/7.