Using Rubrics for Grading in Canvas 

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With finals just over a month away, it’s the perfect time to revisit how Canvas rubrics can make your grading life easier. We’ve talked before about some aspects of adding and using rubrics in courses. As a brief refresher, Canvas has excellent resources on creating and adding rubrics to assignments as well as creating and adding rubrics to discussions. We’ve also talked about how to add existing (already created in Canvas) rubrics to an assignment or discussion.  

Today we’re turning our attention to a setting that’ll make your grading life easier – using a rubric for assignment grading. You may think that you’re doing that by default, and in some ways, you are. The rubric is still tied to the assignment, and you can give scores and comments for all the criteria. But once that’s done and you click “save,” you still need to do the extra step of entering that rubric score in the “grade” slot.  

If you turn on “Use this rubric for assignment grading,” Canvas will automatically take your saved rubric total and enter it in the grade box – no extra steps from you!  

Turning on this setting is simple, but it does need to be done on the assignment/discussion level. For these steps, we’re going to assume that you’ve already added a rubric to the assessment.  

We’ll start by getting to the rubric itself and making it available for editing. For assignments, scroll down to the rubric and click the pencil icon in line with the rubric name. For discussions, click the three dots button (next to the “edit” button) in the discussion, select “add rubric,” then click the pencil icon in line with the rubric name. If you use the rubric in multiple assessments across your course, you’ll get a warning saying that Canvas needs to create a duplicate of the rubric so you can edit it. That’s completely okay – so click the “ok” button. With the setting we’re adjusting, Canvas won’t really create duplicates – that only happens if you change any of the criteria, descriptions, or points.  

Now that you can edit the rubric’s settings, scroll to the list of check boxes below the body of the rubric. Check the box for “Use this rubric for assignment grading,” then click “Update Rubric.”  

That individual assignment is now set to auto-populate the saved rubric score into the “grade” box when you’re grading. Repeat this process for any other assignments in your course using rubrics! 

If you have questions about the mechanics of rubrics, Canvas support will be able to assist you. You can access a live chat with them through the help menu in Canvas, or you can call x7905 and press option 1 for phone support. If you have questions about designing effective rubrics, please reach out to us via We’d love to work with you!  

Originally posted February 22, 2022.

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