The QUB Handbook of Assessment Guidance and Support 2021-22 requires Anonymous Marking for assessment, where possible.  The way in which Canvas applies fully anonymous grading means that schools may have difficulty when it comes to identifying students with exceptional circumstances or late submissions.  This is an issue common across all UK Universities who are currently using anonymous marking functionality in Canvas.*

Anonymous Grading functionality in Canvas

Canvas Assignment using Anonymous Grading

Once anonymous grading is enabled in a Canvas Assignment (by selection the setting – ‘Graders cannot view student names checkbox’), the following is true:

  • Students cannot be identified from this point onwards until marks/feedback have been released
  • Selecting anonymous grading will automatically set the assignment to manual posting policy
  • Student names become student numbers ‘Student 1’, ‘Student 2’, ‘Student 3’ … however the student numbers are not persistent
  • In the Gradebook the Assignment column will be greyed out for any assignment where anonymous marking is enabled – this includes when the Gradebook is exported and persists until the marks/feedback are released.
  • Grades can only be posted to everyone in anonymous assignments
  • Posting marks/feedback will remove anonymity
  • Although it is not recommended to toggle Anonymous Grading on/off, if this happens, the Gradebook History will record the action e.g. the Gradebook History page displays an icon showing that the assignment was previously graded anonymously.

Turnitin Assignment in Canvas using Anonymous Grading

The issues listed above apply also to Anonymous Turnitin Assignments in Canvas, with some additional considerations outlined below:

  • Turnitin Assignments do not support differentiated due dates. Meaning staff are unable to assign multiple due dates for students who have different deadlines to the rest of the class.
  • Feedback Release date – It is recommended that the Feedback Release date in Turnitin is set to a date far into the future otherwise the Turnitin settings will conflict with settings in Canvas SpeedGrader i.e. anonymity will be broken and marks/feedback will be released.
  • Once the Feedback Release Date has been reached it will not be possible to switch Anonymity back on within the Turnitin Assignment Inbox by amending the Feedback Release date.
  • Once submissions have been made it is not possible to turn anonymity on/off within the Canvas Assignment Settings. This would result in an error message which prevents students from submitting and the academic from seeing students’ submissions/ similarity reports in the Turnitin Assignment Inbox.
  • An error message will appear if the Feedback Release Date is the same as the Canvas set due date or if students attempt to submit after the feedback release date has passed.
  • Staff members can break anonymity by selecting the “Reveal authors name” within the Turnitin Assignment Inbox which reveals the name of the student who made the submission.
  • Turnitin does not allow resubmissions to be made once the assignment Due date has been reached i.e. if a student has already made a submission, they will not be able to make another submission after the due date has passed.

Canvas functionality that may help in specific scenarios

There is functionality in canvas that can help:

  • Differentiated due date – If you are aware of student requirements upfront, then you can give those students a personalised due date in Canvas. Remember that that Turnitin does not support differentiate due dates.  (🔗 Link to guidance on due dates)
  • Notes’ column in the Gradebook – you can add notes to gradebook to flag up things like exceptional circumstances but be aware that any staff member who can view the gradebook can also read the notes (🔗 Link to guidance on Notes)

Other potential solutions:

  • Create a separate assignment for late submissions
  • Assign students an anonymous number to include in the submission file name. For more info on this, contact ced@qub.ac.uk

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When using Turnitin, it is essential to have a good understanding of the latest guidance and recommended settings in order to achieve the desired outcomes.  Use of Turnitin is not suitable during online examinations. The system supplier (Turnitin) is experiencing ongoing issues resulting in a poor student and academic experience. For additional information on the known issues with Turnitin please see the Turnitin Staff Guide linked below.

More information on the known issues with Turnitin can be found at the following links.

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*NOTE: QUB are represented on the ‘Managing Assessment Working Group’ which is part of the Canvas UK HE User Group with responsibility for communicating enhancements to Instructure for key assessment functionality required by UK HEIs.