Canvas Spotlight

Late Policies

Last updated on May 10, 2024

Tools: Gradebook

Students missing deadlines is an inescapable part of the classroom experience, whether in-person or virtual. You probably communicate your late work policies clearly in your syllabus, but it’s also important to ensure that those rules are formally implemented in Canvas as well. By correctly using Canvas’ Late Policies, you can have it make the  proper deductions for you so you can focus on grading and other tasks.

Mistakes made in grading late assignments can cause confusion for students. For example, Canvas will not automatically assign a zero to unsubmitted work without having a late policy programmed in Gradebook. This means that the student might have an inflated impression of their grade. It’s always important for students to have an accurate understanding of how their performance is being assessed, and setting late policies is a big part of that.

Best Practices

  • Above all, make sure that your late work policies are prominently displayed to students, such as in the Syllabus. The most important thing is for consequences to be clearly communicated.
  • Ensure that the settings in the gradebook for late work are accurate before the course begins. This will ensure that students always understand what their grade is and how to improve it.
  • Any work students do should have accurate due dates and availability windows. If work is too late to be submitted for credit, the availability window should be closed.

Let’s walk through it together

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas Account.
  4. Select the Course you’d like to work in.

Set Late Work Policies in Gradebook

  1. Click Grades in the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Click the Gear (Settings) Icon in the top right-hand corner of the page.
  3. Click the checkbox next to Automatically apply grade percentage for missing submissions to set a score that is automatically applied for any past-due work.
    • Without this box checked, missing work will not factor into the students’ grades at all.
  4. Enter a Percentage for how much you want missing work to be worth in a student’s grade.
    • The default value here is 100%, but this means that a student would receive full credit for turning nothing in. The standard choice here is to set this to 0%.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Automatically apply deduction to late submissions.
    • This will allow Gradebook to automatically apply your late policies for you. When a student submits to an Assignment, Quiz, or Discussion, you will grade it in SpeedGrader as normal and enter a score. Canvas will automatically apply a modifier to the grade you give it in accordance with the values you enter here.
  6. Enter a Late Submission Deduction Percentage and a Late Submission Deduction Interval.
    • These two settings work together to create a modifier for each submission. For example, a 10% deduction applied every day would mean that an assignment submitted between 48 and 72 hours after the deadline would receive 70% of the points it normally would have.
  7. Enter a Lowest Possible Grade Percent.
    • The default value is 0%. Following the previous example of 10% deducted every day, that means that after 10 days, it would be impossible for the student to submit for any credit at all.
    • If you set this higher, that means that there will always be some possible credit the student can earn. Following the previous example, you could set this value to 50% and that would mean that the penalty would grow each day for 5 days, and then there would be no additional penalty.
    • You might use a static penalty, such as a blanket 40% deduction, for any assignment submitted late. In this case, you can set the Deduction Percentage to 40% at either interval (day or hour) and Lowest Possible Grade Percentage to 60%.

Set Due Dates and Availability Windows in Assignments

Each Assignment, Quiz, and Discussion allows you to set a Due Date. Any late policy you’ve set in Gradebook will use this Due Date for its calculations. Unsubmitted work won’t factor into a student’s grade at all until the Due Date, but if you’ve followed steps 7 and 8, this value will kick in once the Due Date rolls around. While Due Dates are pretty straightforward, instructors can sometimes overlook Availability windows. Available From designates when students can access the assignment and start, obviously, but Available Until has some importance if you’re using late policies. 

If you don’t accept late work whatsoever, Available Until should match the Due Date. If students can always complete late work for some amount of credit, the Available Until date should match the end of the semester, or some arbitrary date you will not accept new submissions after If students only have a certain window after the Due Date to submit late work, the Available Until Date should match when it is no longer possible to get credit. So, if students lose 20% every day an assignment is late, the Available Until Date should be five days after the Due Date. The overall point is that if students can’t actually earn credit for their work, the Assignment shouldn’t be available.