Working with Canvas: SpeedGrader

Canvas is Wayne State’s new learning management system. All classes will be in Canvas by fall 2018. I’m testing out Canvas and sharing my experiences with the campus community. Let me know if you have any questions or topics of interest! For this journal entry, I’ll discuss the most talked about Canvas feature (and rightfully so): SpeedGrader.

SpeedGrader will get you through your grading faster. With it you can:

  • Track your grading progress and hide assignments while grading.
  • View submissions in moderated assignments.
  • Use rubrics to assign grades.
  • View submission details for each student, including resubmitted assignments.
  • Leave feedback for your students.
  • Sort submissions by student and hide student names for anonymous grading.

SpeedGrader basically is set up to get you through your grading in the most efficient way possible. Quite frankly, this is the Canvas tool you will most enjoy when you are pressed for time at the end of the semester and need to grade papers as quickly as you can.

The Basics

SpeedGrader has five areas on the page when it is opened in a web browser on your computer.

  1. Student Submission: This is where you can see what your student has submitted. The student may include text, websites, media recordings or uploaded files. Here you may add annotations to their assignment by highlighting, adding, or crossing out text, writing a comment, or even drawing.
  2. Assign a Grade: Here you can enter a grade based on your preferred assessment method (percentage, points, or — if you set it up as you made the assignment — a letter grade).
  3. View Rubric: If you created a rubric for grading when you made an assignment, this will bring it up.
  4. Assignment Comments: Read comments from the student or add your own.
  5. Other Comment Area: You may upload a file or record a media (audio or video) comment.


You may have noticed in the last image that there is also a toolbar running across the top of the SpeedGrader window. This is where you will find all the information you need about each assignment.

In the upper right hand corner, you’ll notice a grouping of four icons. These control functions that affect the assignment as a whole.

  1. Grades: This opens your gradebook.
  2. Mute/Unmute: This toggles an assignment between muted or unmuted. When an assignment is muted, the student will not receive notifications regarding the assignment. Unmuting it will inform them of their grade.
  3. Keyboard Shortcuts: This will offer you some options to use keyboard shortcuts to navigate more quickly.
  4. Help: This will present you with a help menu if you are confused in the SpeedGrader.
  5. Settings: Here you can choose various sort methods or hide the students’ names for anonymous grading.

On the upper left side, you will be presented with the student information for the assignment. This is where you can easily navigate through the students for grading.  You can click on the right-pointing arrow to open the next student’s assignment or click the left arrow to go back to the previous student.

This area also includes a dropdown menu of all the students in the course, allowing you to jump from student to student as you are grading.

Finally, the center section of your toolbar gives you full details about the assignment on which you are working.

  1. Assignment: Title of the assignment.
  2. Submission Details: The date and time when the assignment was due.
  3. Course Details: Course number, reference number and section of the class in which this assignment was given (like we’re going to forget… ).
  4. Number graded: How many of this assignment you have graded and how many total are to be graded (after a long night, this is much easier than flipping through and counting how many papers you have left).
  5. Average: The average total number of points and the average percentage.
  6. Student Number: Where in the list of students you are working.

In Conclusion

Every time assignments, graded discussions or quizzes are created in Canvas, a SpeedGrader will be set up to grade them. The SpeedGrader can be accessed directly from the assignment itself or through the gradebook. I really appreciate that I can get to the SpeedGrader with far fewer steps than I could grade an assignment in Blackboard. Also, the fact that I can do all the grading from within Canvas rather than opening Word makes life far easier.

SpeedGrader is also available in the Canvas app. Look for more details on the app in a future Canvas journal.

I think that faculty here at WSU will really appreciate the SpeedGrader tool. I can see it not only helping me complete the work faster, but also saving me money (fewer bottles of wine will be needed to get through a stack of papers).

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