There are a few potential pitfalls that can easily be avoided when setting up assignments and assignment weighting within Canvas. Luckily, we’ve seen a lot of them before and the advice below will make sure you don’t fall into them!

1. Incorrect Turnitin Settings

If you are using Turnitin within Canvas be aware that the first time you set up an assignment, Turnitin will apply default settings. These are (probably) not the ones you want and may well cause issues such as students not being able to view their similarity reports.

To check the settings, go to the assignment within Canvas and click on ‘Settings’ within the Turnitin window, then on ‘Optional Settings’ (see image below). If you are unsure which settings are required consult your school policy or previous Turnitin settings from prior years. If you need more detail on what the settings mean then please watch this video (you will need to log-in using your staff number and password).

Turnitin settings and optional settings

2. Turnitin Feedback Release Date

The ‘Feedback release date’ will turn off the anonymity within Turnitin on that date. To avoid this happening before you would like it to, you should set this date for an appropriate time in the future. If you are grading and giving feedback in the ‘Feedback studio’ within Turnitin you should also be aware that the grade and feedback will be released to students on the ‘Feedback release date’.

3. Not Publishing Assignments

Even if you have set an ‘Available From’ date in Canvas to release an assignment, it will need to be published in order that students can submit….make sure it is!

4. Incorrect Assignment Weighting

There are 2 ways to weight assignments within Canvas:

  1. Using Assignment Groups.
  2. Using the points allocated to the assignment.

To use Assignment Groups you weight the assignments by allocating a percentage to each group (see video below). For 2 assignments of 50% each simply set up a group for each assignment and allocate 50% to each one.

However you can also weight assignments based on their points allocation. Firstly, set up a single group for all assignments. Then allocate points equating to the percentage each assignment will make up (e.g. an assignment worth 25% would be allocated 25 points). For the same example above of 2 assignments worth 50% each you would then allocate each assignment 50 points to achieve the weighting desired.

The potential pitfall comes where there are 2 assignments within one group that should be equally weighted but have been allocated different points totals. This will not achieve the desired result as the one with more points will have a greater weighting.

5. Group Assignments in Turnitin

Turnitin does not support group assignments so be careful if advising students to submit such pieces of work. If two students submit the same piece of work for the group then this will affect the similarity report with one assignment being flagged for it’s similarity to the other. This can be avoided in one of 3 ways:

  1. In the Turnitin settings mentioned above select ‘Optional Settings’ and in the dropdown for ‘Submit papers to’ select ‘Do not store the submitted papers’. Group members can then submit without 100% matches.
  2. Allocate a group member to make the submission rather than all members of the group (the others will be flagged by Canvas as non-submissions)
  3. Set up 2 assignments, one for all students to submit to that doesn’t go through Turnitin, and the other for the group member to submit to Turnitin with no points or 0% allocated to it (just for the purpose of generating the similarity report).


It is easy to be caught out with some of the above but if you are careful with the settings, particularly when setting up a Turnitin assignment they can be avoided and don’t forget there is lot’s of help and support available via the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas.