Extra Credit in Canvas

Many of us award extra credit in our courses.  As an art historian, I like to encourage students to visit museums and galleries, attend artists’ talks, watch documentaries, and engage in other co-curricular activities in the world of the visual arts.  It’s very easy to incorporate extra credit into grade calculations when one is grading by hand or in Excel.  It becomes trickier when grading inside of a course management system like Canvas.  Here is what I have learned about awarding extra credit within Canvas: the challenges and my own work-arounds.  (If you have other ways to resolve this problem, TLI would love to know!)

Extra Credit

In a regular class, extra credit typically involves tasks or assignments that, if completed, add points to a student’s grade.  These can range from attending an optional study session or office hours, to adding an extra component to a paper or project, to completing a wholly discrete assignment.  Some instructors add extra credit inside of specific sections of a course with weighted assignments; others add it to the overall grade in the course.

The basic strategy for awarding extra credit inside of Canvas is to create assignments that count for the final grade but that are worth 0 points.

  • Set your extra-credit task or assignment up on the “Assignment” page in Canvas, just as you would any other assignment. Set the total points to 0.  Set the due date as you see fit; I typically use the last class meeting as the deadline.
  • Build a rubric so that you and the students all know what the point award system will be.

Example of extra credit assignment in Canvas

  • If your course works on straight points and is not weighted, you are now done.
  • If your course works with weighted assignment groups, move the extra-credit assignment to the appropriate category.
    • Warning: Do not build a separate Extra Credit assignment group!
      If you make it part of the weighted grade, it is no longer extra credit; if you weight it as 0%, it will not be included in Canvas’s grade calculations.

  • When a student completes the assignment, grade it as per the rubric.


  • The points will now show up inside of the relevant category and will be calculated into the student’s final grade. (Screenshot below from “Test Student.”)

Curving Assignments and Tests

To curve an assignment graded with a rubric you will need to manually override the grade generated by the rubric with a new grade.  Open either the grade sheet or the SpeedGrader and manually enter the new grade into the grade box.

To curve a test administered in Canvas, open the SpeedGrader. At the bottom of each text attempt is a box that says “Fudge points.”  Use this to add or subtract points from the overall grade as desired, then click “update scores.” (This can also be used to compensate for questions that contain errors or otherwise need to be annulled.)

Curving Classes

If you determine that you need to curve a class as a whole, the easiest way to do this is through the Grading Schemes function, under Settings.

  • Open Settings
  • Click on “View Grading Scheme”
  • When the dialogue box opens, click on “Manage Grading Schemes”
    View/Edit Grading Scheme
  • Click on the “+Add grading scheme”
    Add Grading Scheme
  • Label the new scheme and adjust the percentages to reflect your desired curve
  • Click “Save.”


  • Go back to Settings and click on “View Grading Schemes”
  • When the dialogue box opens, click on “Select Another Scheme”
  • Select the scheme you prefer from the dropdown list, then click the “Use This Grading Standard” button. (You may need to scroll down to see it.)
  • Close the dialogue box
  • On the Settings page, click the checkbox for “Enable course grading scheme”
  • Scroll down and click the red button, “Update Course Details”

If you go to the Grades page, you should now see the same percentages in the final grade category, but the letter grade will be updated to the curved grading scheme.

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