Some Strategies for Using the Quiz Tool in Canvas

by Angela Xiong

Using the Canvas quiz tool for frequent, low-stakes formative assessments allows students to get feedback immediately. There are many strategies for using the quiz tool in Canvas for course design and teaching. Instructors can:  

  • create a graded/ungraded knowledge check quiz to highlight important concepts at the end of the module.   
  • deploy a quiz to measure comprehension of assigned readings and media in each module.  
  • have students practice taking an ungraded quiz before having them complete the high-stakes end-of-course exams. 

For low-stakes assessments, students are often given multiple attempts with a certain amount of time to submit their answers, which may include, but are not limited to, multiple choice, true/false, and short answer types. 

Benefits of Using Low-Stakes Quizzes 

There are many benefits of using low-stakes quizzes. First, this allows students to have a clear picture of how they perform early in or throughout the course. It also helps instructors to identify what areas students need to work on. Second, timely feedback through the Canvas auto-graded feature can increase opportunities for students to ask for help. Third, using a more agentic method for quiz feedback can help students become more autonomous and responsible for their learning.  

What is Agentic Learning? 

Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura (1980) developed a theory of social cognition that is associated with self-efficacy. He further defined an agentic learner as self-organizing, self-motivating, self-reflecting, and self-regulated. Empowering student agency transforms students from passive to proactive learners.  

Dave McAlinden (2022), the associate director of instructional design & media at Columbia University, recently shared how to use a more agentic method for quiz feedback to enhance learning. Reflecting on the strategies he shared, I summarize the strategies I have used in online course design.  

Agentic Learning Strategies in Canvas Quizzes 

In Canvas quizzes, students by default can see the “Right or Wrong” answer immediately after submitting their quiz. By default, there is no further explanation or instructor feedback. As a result, students might not fully understand why the answer they chose was “Right” or “Wrong.”   

To make quiz feedback more effective, here are some strategies that instructors can adopt:  

  • Provide further hints or explanations of potential answers using images, videos, or text.   
  • Direct students to a specific part of the course resources in which the relevant information is provided. For example, in the feedback comment, you could write, “You can find the detailed rationales for this on the Canvas page, titled, “xxx, the second paragraph.”  Being more specific can make the feedback even more effective. 
  • Guide the students to where they can find the correct answer. Adopting the “guide and tell” approach by helping them connect with prior knowledge can empower students to become more agentic. As the students go through the process of actively looking for answers under your guidance, the knowledge they have acquired is more lasting. 
  • Ask students to do the post-quiz as a bonus if they want to make up some points that they missed on the quiz. They have the opportunity to earn half a point for each wrong answer. As an instructor, you can ask students to look at all of the questions that they got incorrect and require them to write an explanation of why they got the questions wrong. Additionally, students must provide the correct answer with references and materials you direct them to. Providing a post-quiz reflection gives students a sense of agency and ownership for their learning. 
  • Invite students for collaborative short-answer testing. Students help each other come to a consensus on their answers, which can reinforce their understanding of the material. Meanwhile, you can provide targeted guidance to students. This can reduce students’ test anxiety and increase their learning agency.  

These quiz feedback strategies are powerful and meaningful. Although high-stakes exams are challenging in online course design, using low-stakes quizzes with the quiz feedback strategy can be more effective. These strategies provide opportunities for students to turn failure into opportunity to correct answers on their own terms, based on the instructor’s feedback. Furthermore, students will increase their sense of agency and develop their ability for self-regulation and self-inquiry. 


Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122–147. 

McAlinden, D. (2022, August). How to provide more powerful quiz feedback? [Post]. LinkedIn.

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