How to: Create an assignment in Canvas

What is assignment creation?

The Assignments function is where everything happens in Canvas. So far as Canvas is concerned an ‘assignment’ is any graded student work, including Quizzes, graded discussion forums and any in-class or offline assessment work. Creating, updating or deleting an assignment will also update your Gradebook, Calendar and Syllabus pages. To set up a basic assignment, follow the steps below, or check out the video for further information. Extra hints and tips will appear in the Usage tips tab below.

How do I set up an assignment in Canvas?

To set up a basic online submission using a Canvas assignment:

  1. Go to the Assignments section of your course
  2. Click the red +Assignment button
  3. Give your assignment a name and enter assignment details in the text editor. Refer to template examples for guidance on what information to include.
  4. Assign a number of points
  5. If required, put the Assignment in an assignment group (Assignment groups are used for weighting assessment items)
  6. Select desired display grade as option.
  7. Select Submission type as Online and choose what type of submission you’d like. Choose File Uploads for a word/pdf document submission.
  8. For a standard individual assignment that is available to everyone in the class you can ignore the last 3 fields and click Save.

To create or find and add a rubric:
On the next screen (after Save), or click back into the Assignment link if you’ve exited the assignment set up:

9. follow the instructions in the How do I create a Rubric guide

To add weighting to assignments for Gradebook calculations, refer to How to: add weighting to assessment items in Canvas

It is similar to a Blackboard assignment in that:
Submitted assignments are time and date stamped
Students can resubmit their work for an assignment and their submission history is viewable by teachers
Assignment groups can be used to categorise work or tasks such as attendance, discussions, papers, quizzes etc. All groups can be used to create a weighted total for the final grade.
Assignments can be set as group work. You can customise settings and require peer review.
However it differs in that:

The concept of an assignment is much broader in Canvas than in Blackboard. An Assignment in Canvas can be any assessment type.
In Canvas you cannot create a grade column in the gradebook without creating as assignment first, however you are able to create ‘assignments’ that are for offline tasks (eg. in-class presentations).

For more information check:

Canvas assignments resources [Canvas Community resources]

Grading and assignments in Canvas [Virginia Tech]


  • To set up a Turnitin assignment you need to use the Canvas assignment function, and select ‘External tool’ in the Submission type field. For more information refer to our How to: Use Turnitin in Canvas guide.
  • You can use the Canvas assignment tool to set up a gradebook  column and speedgrader functionality for in-class and other assessment types that have no online submission. In this instance, choose the ‘On paper’ submission type.


Why do I get a “Flash required for recording video” error message when I try to use the Record Video function?

Often if you’re using Chrome the Record Media comment tool will show a spinning circle with a note saying “Flash required for recording video”.

This usually means that Flash is not enabled for this Canvas site by default.
To fix this:

  1. To the left of the browser’s URL bar you’ll see a lock icon with Secure in green. Click this.
  2. Select Site Settings

  3. Next to the Flash icon, select Allow from the dropdown menu.

  4. Now refresh your browser view by clicking the Reload button presented, or the arrow next to the URL bar.

How do students submit group assignments?

In the student view, group assignments are identical to other assignments. Like with other assignments, a Submit Assignment button will be visible when the assignment is available. However, after one member of the group submits something, the button will display Re-submit Assignment.

When students submit or re-submit files to a group assignment, a read-only copy of the file is saved to their Group area in Files > Submissions.

Can I have calculated and weighted columns?

Yes, you can.  You can weight final grades based on assignment groups.  Remember that grade totals are displayed in the Total column of the Gradebook.  To learn more about the Gradebook, refer to “How to: use Gradebook in Canvas”.

Can I duplicate an assignment in a course?

Yes, you can duplicate an assignment in your course. Once an assignment is duplicated, the word Copy is added to the end of the assignment name.  To duplicate an assignment:

  1. Click on Assignment
  2. Locate the Assignment to duplicate
  3. Click on the Settings icon
  4. Click Duplicate

To find out more on duplicating assignments, visit this page.

Can I delete a student’s assessment submissions?

No.  As an instructor, you do not have the option to delete student assessment submissions.
However, as long as the Available Until date has not passed, students are able to resubmit any assignment, so if a student has submitted an incorrect file, advise them to resubmit.

What is the grade distribution graph?

By default, Canvas allows students to see a grade distribution graph for each assessment task. This graph displays to students the highest score, the lowest score, and the mean for each assignment, allowing students to visualise how their result compares with that of other students.  If you do not wish students to have access to this graph, follow the instructions below:

  1. Login to Canvas and select the course in which you want to hide the grade distribution graphs.
  2. Click on Settings at the bottom of the left navigation menu.
  3. Click on the Course Details tab at the top.
  4. At the bottom of the list of settings, click the more options link.
  5. Tick the check box next to the Hide grade distribution graphs from students option.
  6. Click the blue Update Course Details button.

What is the difference between the assignment submission types “paper” and “no submission”?

Functionally there is no difference between these assignment types, both create an Assignment (assignment details) and a column in the Gradebook (to enter grades and feedback), but no submission link for students. In the Canvas community “paper” is often used for assignment submissions external to Canvas and “no submission” for extra credit, however either can be used for assessments where online submission is not appropriate. See How do I add or edit details in an assignment? for further instructions.

How can I hide grades from students until I’ve finished marking?

In the Gradebook (Grades) you can mute a published assignment until you’re ready to release the grades to students. You currently can’t set it to automatically release on a specified date, it is a manual process. See ‘How do I mute or unmute an assignment in the Gradebook?‘ for further instructions.

In student view, the assignment appears as follows.

Canvas assignments with multiple submission types

When you set up a Canvas Assignment to include more than one online submission type, only one of the files / link the students add are actually submitted. There’s no indication or message that not all the things they’ve added via the tabs have been submitted. Students can add multiple submissions, but they need to do this by ‘resubmitting’ the assignment, and then you can toggle between the different submissions in SpeedGrader.

Demonstration Screencast


Can I use Canvas rubrics with a TurnItIn assignment?

Yes. If you want to use a Canvas rubric for the assignment, you must add the rubric before setting the External Tool submission type. Create the assignment with any other submission type, save the assignment, add the rubric, and then edit the assignment to select the External Tool > Turnitin. You can then use the Canvas rubric when grading in SpeedGrader.
This is very important if you wish to have Turnitin submissions but also wish to track learning outcomes/accreditation requirements/competency attainment using the Canvas Outcomes function.
Student guides for Canvas Assignments [Canvas Community resources]


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