Understanding Canvas Graded Group Discussions and SpeedGrader

Quick Links:  | Issue details | Intended behavior | The Workaround |

When instructors set up graded group discussions in Canvas, it creates both individual group discussions and a course-level discussion. If a student is not added to a group (as may happen with groups created near the beginning of a term), they may inadvertently post to the course-level discussion and prevent their responses from showing in SpeedGrader. This article will clarify Canvas's intended behavior regarding this issue and provide a workaround to ensure accurate grading in SpeedGrader.

Issue Details

  • Canvas allows for the creation of graded group discussions, where separate discussions are generated for each group in a group set. These discussions enable students within a group to interact and collaborate on the assigned topic.
  • Additionally, Canvas creates a course-level discussion associated with the assignment. This course-level discussion is primarily used to link to the assignment grade column and evaluate overall participation. By default, students cannot post replies to this discussion.
  • The issue arises when students who do not belong to a group attempt to post in the course-level discussion. In such cases, SpeedGrader does not display these posts, making it difficult for instructors to assess and grade them.

Intended Behavior

Canvas has confirmed that the current behavior is intended. Instructors should be aware that students who do not belong to a group can post in the course-level discussion, and SpeedGrader does not show their posts.

  1. Posting in Course-Level Discussion: Canvas allows students who are not part of any group to post in the course-level discussion for graded group discussions.
  2. Grading in SpeedGrader: For graded group discussions, SpeedGrader will display student posts in the context of their respective groups. If a student isn't in a group, their post will not appear in SpeedGrader. Instead, instructors will be prompted to view the post in the main discussion.
  3. Expected Setup: Canvas recommends ensuring all students are added to a group before assigning a group set to a discussion.

The Workaround

To ensure all student responses are visible in SpeedGrader:

  1. Create Groups First: Ensure all students are in a group before creating the assignment.
  2. Assign to Specific Groups: Instead of assigning the discussion to "Everyone," select the the individual groups. Though Canvas warns this doesn't assign to the whole class, that's the point.
  3. Effect: This stops students from posting in the course-wide discussion, ensuring all posts appear in SpeedGrader.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Go to People: Access the People tab in your course.
  2. Create Groups: Ensure all students are allocated to a group in the group set.
  3. Setup Graded Discussion: Under Discussions, create a new graded group discussion.
  4. Specify Group Assignment: In the Assign To box, instead of assigning to the whole class, manually select all the groups.
  5. Ignore Warning: Canvas will warn this isn't assigned to the entire class. Select Continue.
  6. Confirm: Only students in those groups can now see and participate in the discussion. This ensures all responses are captured in SpeedGrader.
  7. Maintain Groups: If your class population isn't solidified at the time of group creation (such as during the term's add/drop period), make sure to continually monitor the group set for students unassigned to any group. It's safe to manually add them to a group.


While the Canvas behavior regarding graded group discussions and SpeedGrader is unintuitive, it has been confirmed as intended behavior by Canvas Support. Utilizing the provided workaround can help ensure that all student responses are accessible and gradable through SpeedGrader.

For any further inquiries or assistance, please reach out to Canvas Support or the Technology & Learning Program.

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Article ID: 113641
Mon 9/11/23 11:22 AM
Fri 1/12/24 10:36 AM