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Home > Assessments (Quizzes) > Canvas Quizzes Best Practices
Canvas Quizzes Best Practices
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When it comes to graded quizzes offered via your Canvas course site, we recommend the following for creating, administering, and analyzing your assessments. These items are particularly important for high-stakes assessments, such as midterm or final exams.

Use the links below to jump down to the information you need:

Creating an assessment

Quiz settings

  1. Choose Graded Quiz for the quiz type.
  2. Optional: The Shuffle Answers option will apply to every question on your Canvas quiz. Only check the Shuffle Answers box if you do not use any multiple choice or multiple answer questions that rely on the display order of the answer choices. For example, if any of your answer choices say "both A and B are correct", "C only is correct", or "all of the above", etc., we do not recommend that you shuffle your quiz answers.
  3. Maximize quiz security to prevent cheating. This is a comprehensive guide for maintaining the integrity and security of your quiz. Though these items may not be necessary for low-stakes homework quizzes, we strongly recommend that you follow these guidelines for high-stakes quizzes and exams.
  4. Make sure to publish your quiz. If you have been using "draft state" while working on your quiz (keeping it unpublished), then you will need to publish your quiz  before it becomes available to your students.
    Note:  If you have specified availability dates, then your quiz will only become available to your students during that availability window even though you have published the quiz before the availability start date.
  5. If you are giving a timed assessment, make sure that you allow extra time on the assessment for any students requiring this academic accommodation as determined by the Office of Accessibility Services.

Question Options

There are a number of different question types that you can use in Canvas. You can also choose to draw questions from a question bank and use random blocks of questions (called question groups in Canvas).

When deciding how to set up your quiz questions, please keep in mind the following caveats:

  • Caveat #1: If you want to add images, add files, and add links into your quiz questions, make sure that you are accessing Canvas from the URL and use the Rich Content Editor. If you use any other method of adding files or images to quiz questions, students may experience difficulty accessing the quiz files and the images may break.
    (Click image to enlarge it)
  • Caveat #2: Updating questions in a quiz that are drawn from a question bank will not update that same question in the question bank.
    Changing a question on the quiz will not update that same question in the question bank it is drawn from, and vice versa. If you need to update a question, you will need to update it both on your quiz and in the question bank containing that question.
  • Caveat #3: Updating questions after students have begun taking a quiz is cumbersome
    Regardless of whether or not you are drawing from question banks, if you find an error in one of your quiz questions it is cumbersome to try to change that question after your students have begun taking the quiz. Updating the question will not cause Canvas to regrade the attempts of students who have already submitted the quiz.
    The best option in this case is usually to wait until all of your students have submitted their quiz attempt, and then use SpeedGrader to go into each student's attempt to check to see if that student received the problematic question and manually offer credit for the problematic question. Alternatively, if you know all of your students received the problematic question, you can use SpeedGrader to give each of your students fudge points to cover the point-value of the question. Then, make sure to correct the question so that you do not need to repeat this process next semester.

Administering an assessment

The best option for administering Canvas assessments in-person is to have TAs or other instructors serve as proctors in your classroom during the assessment. If in-person proctoring isn’t an option for you or any of your students, you may consider using the Honorlock online proctoring service which can be enabled on any exam in Canvas. If there is a technical glitch and a student gets locked out of their exam and they need to get back in, you can give an additional attempt to that student by using the Moderate Quiz feature.

After the assessment has been taken

Avoid editing the assessment

Once the assessment is open to students, please avoid editing the assessment until the due date passes. Canvas allows you to edit the assessment while an assessment is in progress, but it can cause grading errors. In one instance, students were served the wrong version of the test entirely. If you do need to make an urgent fix, make sure to save the changes and confirm that the changes took effect while under student view.

Fudge points and grading individual questions

Speedgrader is Canvas's inline grading tool that allows you to view individual students' attempts and adjust points as needed. You can easily manually grade essay questions via SpeedGrader. You can also offer students "fudge points" if you find an unfair question in your assessment's item analysis and wish to cancel out the point value of that question. Fudge points can also be used to offer a student extra credit on an assessment. If you need to edit a multiple choice, true/false, or multiple answer question and it is not tied to a question bank, you may be able to edit the quiz question and trigger an automatic regrade of that question for all students. However, we do not recommend relying on this feature. We strongly recommend using Speedgrader to verify that a regrade has been successfully applied to your students' quiz submissions. Learn more about Canvas's regrade option.

Item analysis

Canvas offers an item analysis option so that you can analyze assessment performance and question quality. For more information, see How do I view analytics for a student in a course?

While this tool can be very useful, it also has some limitations: Quiz statistics will only generate for quizzes with 100 or fewer unique questions, or 1,000 total attempts. For example, a quiz with 200 questions will not generate quiz statistics, but a quiz with 75 questions will generate quiz statistics until the quiz has reached 1,000 attempts. Results greater than these maximum values can be viewed by downloading the Student Analysis report and viewing the CSV file in Excel.


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