Thinking in Canvas: Effective quizzing


Creating quizzes in Canvas is quite easy and straightforward. In Canvas, quizzes can be created under ‘Quizzes’ (Quiz index page) or ‘Assignments’ (Assignments page) on the course menu. Any quiz that you create will appear on both the Assignment page and Quiz index page. There are 4 types of quizzes available: a practice quiz that does not contribute to the course total mark, a marked quiz, a marked survey, and an unmarked survey.

Check out this short video showing how quizzes can be created from both the ‘Assignments’ and ‘Quizzes’ course menu items.


There are currently 12 question types available in a Canvas quiz. If you use these creatively, you can create even more types of questions. For example you can create Likert scale quiz questions for your course survey using the Multiple Dropdown question type. Apart from hotspot question type, Canvas quizzes have similar number of questions types available as compared to Blackboard quizzes. Check out this Canvas Instructor Guide for more information about those different types of quiz question and how you construct them in your quiz.

Good Design Principles

1. Academic equity:

  • If possible, create a practise quiz so that students can become familiar with the quiz environment and procedure. This is particularly relevant if your students may be using Canvas for the first time.
  • Utilise quiz options to make your quiz accessible and to accommodate different needs. For example, some students may have adjustments that allow extra time to complete their assessments including quizzes. To accomplish this you can duplicate a quiz and selectively release to a particular student with different settings in quiz options and provide an access code, or by using the Moderate This Quiz option once a quiz is published.

2. Academic integrity

  • Utilise the following quiz options to promote academic integrity: Shuffle Answers, Time Limit, Show one question at a time, Lock questions after answering, Set Available From, Due, and Until Date. If the quiz is being taken as an exam on campus, you can set Filter IP Address to the lab’s IP Address subnet to prevent off-site access; or provide students with an access code.
  • Use quiz logs to examine any unusual activities (i.e. someone completing quizzes in an unexpectedly short time), or to investigate any potential technical issue(s) reported.

 3. Feedback

  • Feedback is important to inform and assist students in reinforcing their knowledge and guide them with more direction so that they can correct any misconceptions. In Canvas, instructors can provide feedback to every correct and incorrect option in a quiz, and provide overall feedback to a particular question or an entire quiz, and provide post-submission overall feedback with text, attached file, video, or audio by using Speed Grader.
  • Avoid general feedback such as “well done” or “that is incorrect” as they are not helpful in guiding students with further studies. Instead, highlight any misconceptions the particular responses may indicate, and provide avenues for further investigation such as links to other areas of your Canvas unit site.

4. Content and format

  • Quizzes should be designed to reinforce students’ knowledge and guide their learning if necessary; they should not carry massive weight towards the total mark if the questions are not designed to promote critical thinking.
  • Try to be consistent with your questions’ style: quizzes are designed to test student knowledge, not to trick them and penalise them for their oversights. For example, do not change ‘pick the correct answers’ to ‘pick the incorrect answers’ in a series of similar questions.
  • Use the Question Bank to create collections of questions that can be added to different quizzes and shared across different courses in Canvas that you have access to as an instructor by bookmarking them. Questions banks can be very useful in categorising a large number of questions on different topics, or questions contributed by different instructors.

Technical tips and tricks for building quizzes in Canvas

Here are some hot tips to help you managing quizzes efficiently in Canvas:

  • Quiz content can be dynamic: you can link in unit content or add images to a quiz question using Canvas’ rich content editor. You can also use Maths editor tool in the content editor to write maths equation instead of using images, which can be slower to load and may not comply with accessibility standards.
  • Get Canvas to calculate quiz weightings: If your unit has multiple quizzes (for example 5 quizzes of same or different weight which contribute to 20% of your unit’s total mark) then first create an assignment group in the Assignments page and drag in your existing quizzes or create new quizzes under that assignment group. Canvas will then add up the results of all quizzes in the group and automatically calculate the weighting for you (i.e. 20% out of total).
  • Reuse quiz questions from Blackboard or other compatible formats: Old Blackboard quizzes can be imported easily to Canvas. First you export your old Blackboard quiz in .zip format, then in Canvas go to Settings on the course menu, and find Import course content on the right hand side to import the exported .zip test file.
  • Hiding quiz results and feedback: Muting/hiding your quiz column in Marks (Canvas’ gradebook) not only prevents students from seeing the quiz score in Marks but also prevents them seeing the results and feedback at the end of that quiz, even you set feedback to be available to students in the quiz option settings. When you unmute the quiz column in Marks, quiz results and feedback will be released to students (if you made them available in quiz options). It is advised that when you unmute a column in Marks you should also use the ‘Message students tool’ available in the dropdown menu in that same column to notify students about results and feedback availability.
  • Moderate your quiz: To give any individual student extra time or attempt, use the Moderate this quiz tool.
  • Question management: Use question groups (note these are different to Question Banks) to randomise the questions in a quiz, or categorise questions into different topics. You can draw a question group from a particular Questions Bank. Unfortunately Canvas quizzes do not give you the option to customise the heading for your group of questions. To get around this, use the Text (no questions) type to create a heading for the group of questions. See an example here.
  • If you change an answer to any question after students have attempted, Canvas offers you the option to regrade the quiz. Note that not all question types can be regraded.
  • Advise your students try not to take Canvas quiz using a mobile device (unless no other means was available to them) as some of the question types are not compatible and the mobile app does not support quizzes with special settings such as one question at a time.

Help and support

  • The Canvas Instructors Guide has a comprehensive section on quizzes.
  • Contact the Educational Innovation helpdesk via the ICT Service Desk (x 16000) for further support.
  • Canvas 24/7 support is available to staff and students at the University – this is available via the Help menu at the left hand side once you log in to Canvas.
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