Activities and Assignments


Canvas makes a distinction between assignments and activities. Assignments are almost always graded. Activities still require students to do something, but the task itself will not earn the student any points.

Choose from three basic types: Assignment, Discussion, or Quiz

What is the difference between a Canvas Assignment and a Canvas Activity?

Add assignments and activities via the Module view of your course. This ensures the item is placed in the correct module.

Adding an assignment from the Modules page   Adding an assignment to a module

How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?

If something has been deleted by accident or you want to try to restore content that was deleted, you can use the undelete button in the course > settings area.

Once you click on this button, you will have the option of restoring what Canvas has kept after being deleted.

For an in depth look at each assignment and activity type, visit the help pages for Assignments, Discussions, and Quizzes.

Starting Canvas with Online Activities and Assignments

Starting Canvas with Online Activities and Assignments. In this self-paced course, explore the essentials tools and features of Canvas. Learn how to use Modules, Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, and Rubrics. You'll also have the option to check out: Roll-Call Attendance, Prerequisites and Requirements, and Scheduler (Canvas Calendar).


Canvas Assignment can be used to collect a submission from students electronically, provide instructions for and remind students about an in-class activity, and track extra credit. 

Adding an assignment in Canvas

How do I create an assignment?

How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?

After creating an assignment, modify the assignment details and settings. Provide students assignment instructions and guidelines, set the due date and number of points to earn. 

Editing an assignment   More editing options for an assignment

How do I add or edit details in an assignment?

How do I bulk update due dates and availability dates for my assignments?

Clean up unused assignments by removing, then deleting them from your course. 

Deleting an assignment in Canvas

How do I delete an assignment?

Establish a routine pattern of assignments and activities for students. When assigning an assignment that students will complete each week, create the assignment once, then duplicate it and move it to subsequent weeks. 

Duplicating an assignment in Canvas

How do I duplicate an assignment?

By default, resubmissions are always allowed. After students submit their assignment, they may revisit the assignment to submit a new version. As the instructor, you can view the various versions of the submission, deciding which version to accept and grade. Prevent students from revisiting the assignment, set an Until availability date. 

Can a student resubmit an assignment?

Turnitin Assignments

At Cal State LA, Turnitin is available through Canvas, the campus Learning Management System. Below you will find steps on creating a Turnitin assignment on Canvas.

Under the Plagiarism Review section, click on the dropdown [1] and select Turnitin.  In the following dropdown menu [2], choose whether you would like your students’ papers to be stored in the Turnitin Repository, then check off what you like the submissions to be compared against.  When the Similarity Report is generated, you have the option to exclude specific portions of the paper and enable a grammar checker [3]. If you wish to keep these settings for future use, you can check off the box is labeled Save as default settings [4].  The final dropdown [5] allows you to choose when students can access the Similarity Reports.

Comprehensive Turnitin Guide

Within the assignment details window, click on Speedgrader.


Once in Speedgrader, click on the percentage highlighted in the red box.



The Similarity Report has different features for you to use.  In the column on the right-hand side, the first button [1] indicates what percent of the paper was found to be plagiarized

Begin by creating a new Assignment. Add Turnitin to the assignment by activating Turnitin as the submission type. Students will then submit their assignments via the Turnitin system, where it will be scanned for plagiarism. 

Turnitn Submission Type

How do I add a Turnitin Assignment?

Please email CETL Support at [email protected] if you wish to use to manage turnitin assignments.


Use Discussions to promote conversations, reflections, and collaborations among students. Help students practice their writing in a formal academic setting without the anxiety of a higher stakes writing assignment. 

Create Discussion

How do I create a discussion as an Instructor?

Modify the settings of a discussion to change the prompt or question or the availability dates for the conversation. 

Edit Discussion

How do I edit a discussion in a course?

Award credit for participating in a discussion by activating the graded discussion option. 

Grade Discussion

How do I assign a graded discussion to everyone in a course?

Facilitate and monitor the discussion, using the viewing and sorting options to manage numerous student posts. 

Sort a discussion

How do I view and sort discussion replies as an instructor?

Permit students to attach files to discussions.  

Attach a file part 1
Attach a file part 2

How do I allow students to attach files to a course discussion?

Allow students to evaluate their peers responses to a discussion prompt or question. Attach a rubric to help peer reviewers provide structure and adequate feedback. 

Peer Review
Add a rubric

How do I create a peer review discussion?

How do I use peer review discussions in a course?

How do I automatically assign peer reviews for a discussion?

Students who post later within the permitted conversation window may have an advantage, seeing the replies of their classmates. For certain discussion questions and prompts, it may be advantageous to restrict when students can see existing replies. 

Post Before Viewing

How can I require students to reply to a course discussion before they see other replies?

Allow students to post discussions anonymously. 

Anonymous Discussion

Note: You can only enable anonymous discussion while creating a discussion. Once a discussion is created you won't be able to enable the anonymous discussion for it.

Peer Review

Scroll down in half way in your assignment settings and check box Peer Review

Manually Assign Peer Review will allow you to choose which students will be assigned peer reviewers.

First and foremost, students need to submit their assignment before assigning the reviewer. This is a prerequisite for participating in the peer review process.

Once students have submitted their assignment, Peer Review will appear. Clicking Peer Review will allow you to manually assign students to a peer.

[1] Under the student's name, click the link.  [2] Select the peer you would like the student to review. [3] Click the Add button. For instance, I will assign John Lennon to review Paul McCartney's assignment. 


Automatically Assign Peer Review will allow you to choose which students will be assigned peer reviewers.

In the settings for the assignment, choose the option [1] Automatically Assign Peer Review. Then, [2] determine the number of reviewers to assign to each user.    [3] Choose a date for Canvas to automatically assign reviewers to users.

If a user does not submit an assignment, they will be excluded from participating in Peer Review. Should a student submit their assignment late, it will be necessary for the instructor to manually assign that student to a peer reviewer.


Draft State and Quiz Shells

In Canvas, quizzes, like assignments and graded discussion, depend mostly on the settings and then upon the question types. Doing this means you should employ the Quiz Shell or "Draft State" as Canvas calls it. The point of this funciton is to create the space in your course for your quizzes to exist and then for you to edit them and apply the correct settings. This can be typically viewed as a three step process.

  • Create a quiz by clicking the Plus either in a Module or the Plus Quiz in the Quiz Index Page.
  • Select the quiz from the drop down menu in Modules, or start on the navigation page from the Quiz Index page.
  • Select New Quiz, name it, select its assigment group (grading feature if created in Assignments), and then select Add Item

How do I use Draft State in Quizzes?

How do I use the Quizzes Index Page?

Quizzes have two major settings to focus on, the Quiz Type and the Quiz Options. Canvas has four major Quiz types for you to explore and then corresponding settings to enable their use. Also within the quiz settings are the timing options, from here you can set available from and until times, this prevents the student from taking a quiz outside of these times.

Canvas organizes their question creation process in a few steps. First, you can add individual questions to a quiz. You can then create Question Groups within a quiz to randomize question. Or your can utilize Question Banks and build from there. 

For the complete topic on Canvas Quizzes, including How to create multiple question types go to:

Question Banks are larger groups in which you may house multiple question items and types based on topics you need for your course. Canvas Question Banks are flat, in the sense that they are single categories and do not create sub-groups within them. That must be done at a quiz level using Question Groups. 

Grading for quizzes of most preset question types is done automatically after students take their quiz. The Quiz Options allow you to set times or opportunities for students to view their answers and feedback. Essay type or file upload questions will require you to manually grade the content using SpeedGrader. You may wish to review our guides on using SpeedGrader if you have trouble.

Regrading quizzes because you might have accidently indicated the wrong correct answer in a question is primarily done by the question type. Use these guides to explore how to regrade:

What options can I use to Regrade a Quiz in a Course?

Quiz results are easily viewed and analyized using Canvas' Quiz Statistics feature. For detailed guides on how to use these tools and what some of the information means, please use the following guides:

Students who need extra time or attempts on a quiz because of special circumstances can have appropriate quiz accommodations set up for them. You will use the Canvas Moderate this Quiz option after clicking on the quiz title. This is similar to the quiz user override in Moodle. You will also have to make sure in the quiz settings that the quiz availability time for the student receiving quiz accommodations is long enough to include the extended quiz time.

For example: if your quiz runs for an hour and fifteen minutes, and you're giving one of your students double time, for a total of two hours and thirty minutes, make sure that the time between the [1] available from and the [2] until boxes are at least as long as two hours and thirty minutes. You can use the [3] + Add button to assign a longer quiz availability time for students receiving accommodations, so that everyone else's quiz availability time can stay the same as normal.

The assign-to blocks in Canvas quiz settings, showing the available from time, the until time, and the button to add a new assign-to block.

How can I give my students extra time?

How can I give my students extra attempts?



Collaborations provide students a shared workspace for a group project or whole class assignment. Using the two most common online productivity tools (Google Drive and Office 365), create a collaboration where students can work simultaneously on a shared word processing document, spreadsheet, or slideshow. 

Creating a collaboration in Canvas

After work has begun, check in on each shared workspace to assess student progress. 

Viewing a collaboration in Canvas

How do I view Collaborations?


Enable the  Attendance tool through the Navigation tab in the Course Settings so that you can use it in the course. (In case you need help with the Navigation tab and Course Settings, please follow the appropriate guide linked below.) Once the tool is enabled, use the Roll Call feature within Canvas to easily track and award points for attendance. Encourage students to upload a picture to their user profile to help setup the seating chart feature, which makes it easier to take attendance. 

Attendance page in Canvas

The Roll Call feature will automatically create an assignment in Grades to record the points for Attedance. If you use Attendance as a graded item, plase be aware that in this function for now, the tool creates a single column of 100 points which it updates as you use the tool. If you are using a points calculation method for your grades, be warned that altering the attendance points is tricky and can cause some odd errors, though the change is possible if you follow the Canvas Guide faithfully. 

steps to adjust attendance points

How do I edit the Roll Call Attendance assignment?

Visit the Roll Call feature in the course by clicking on the Attendance navigation link to record student attendance. This is where you can use the CLASS tab to setup the seating chart to make taking attendance a lot easier and faster.  Mark students present, late, excused, or absent. 

Taking students' attendance in Canvas

How do I take roll call using the Attendance tool?

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