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 Assignment Weighting

There are 2 ways to weight assignments within Canvas:

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

However, QUB regulations now state that all assessed elements of work must be marked on an integer of 0 – 100 and as such assignments should not be weighted on the basis of allocating them a different number of points e.g. Assignment 1: 25pts Assignment 2: 75pts. This would achieve the weighting but is not in line with QUB guidelines. Instead you should use assignment groups to assign the weighting and mark each element out of 100 points.

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.

You can then create the two assignments, allocate one to each group and mark each out of 100 points. This will achieve the weighting desired.

2. 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. More detail on Turnitin settings can be found in this Turnitin within Canvas – Staff Guide.

Turnitin settings and optional settings

3. Turnitin Feedback Release Date

The ‘Feedback release date’ (see Turnitin settings above) 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. In addition it may create an error if the feedback release date is the same as the due date. Always check to make sure this is not the case.

4. 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!

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.