Getting Started with the Semester

Setting up your assignments and gradebook

If you’ve not worked in Canvas before, the most important thing to know is that

your gradebook is created by your assignments.

The term “assignments” here also includes graded Canvas quizzes, discussions, and activities using Canvas-linked tools such as Top Hat or Quick Check. The act of creating an assignment is what makes the column appear in the Canvas Grades tool. The Grades tool does not have an option to add columns independent of an assignment.

Since assignments create your gradebook, it is to your advantage to only create assignments that you will actually grade. If you will not grade “reading a chapter,” then while you are assigning the reading to students, you would not create a Canvas assignment for it. If you want to give students reminders about reading deadlines, Canvas Calendar Events will put those deadlines in students’ Canvas To-Do list. For more on using the Canvas Calendar tool, see the Canvas Guide “How do I use the Calendar as an instructor?” (You can also add reminders for class sessions by adding an event for the class meeting and duplicating to the end of the semester.)

If you are using an integrated publisher tool for graded quizzes and assignments, please see your publisher representative to set up the connection between that tool and your Canvas site. How your particular tool integrates with Canvas will determine how your assignments and gradebook are constructed.

Set up Your Assignments

There are several different types of graded assignments you can use in your course. The three main ones are Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions and they each have their own tool in Canvas. You can create each type of assignment in its own Canvas tool or in a Module. Every graded quiz and discussion will appear in both their own tool and the Canvas Assignment tool.

Click on each item below to learn about the different types.

If you would like to include extra credit in, or in addition to, any of your assignments, see the Canvas Guide “How do I give extra credit in a course?

Set up Assignment Groups – Optional

If you want to weight grades without worrying about calculating proportional points for each assignment, you’ll want to set up Assignment Groups in the Assignments tool. They are especially important if you prefer to grade with percentages only (every assignment is worth 100%) or a combination of percents and points. Even if you’re not weighting grades, if you have a larger number of assignments, assignment groups can help you organize assignments and make them easier to find in the gradebook using filters.

The following Canvas Guides explain setting up assignment groups and weighting them.

To add assignments to your assignment groups, click the + button to the right of the name of the group to add a new assignment, or drag an existing assignment, quiz, or discussion into the group by clicking and holding the set of 8 dots to the left of the assignment name.


Questions? Talk to your campus teaching and learning center!

Click “Next” below at the bottom right to continue.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

A Canvas Semester Checklist Copyright © by Trustees of Indiana University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.