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Canvas - Create Account-Level Canvas Outcomes for Program Assessment

This article highlights the importance of assessment at UWM using Canvas. It discusses the significance of assessment in interpreting evidence of student learning for program and course improvement. The article outlines best practices for designing assessment rubrics, ensuring meaningful score differences, and clarifying the use of assessment data for improvement rather than evaluating teaching performance. The process of creating outcomes, attaching them to rubrics, deploying rubrics in courses, and retrieving assessment data from Canvas is explained. The article also addresses data security and student privacy considerations when handling assessment data.

Before you begin

About using Canvas for assessment at UWM

Assessment is a process of gathering and interpreting evidence of student learning, in light of program learning outcomes, for the purpose of course and program improvement. UWM departments and faculty are required by our regional accreditor to document assessment of student learning for both graduate and undergraduate degree programs and for courses which carry general education credit.
A few best practices help ensure the integrity and validity of assessment data:
  • Program or course rubrics should be designed to reveal patterns in student performance on learning outcomes. Rubrics with 4-5 performance levels work best for this purpose.
  • While grading rubrics might consider factors beyond proficiency, assessment rubrics should narrowly measure student mastery, proficiency, or achievement on specific learning outcomes.
  • To ensure that differences in scores are meaningful, raters should reserve the highest possible rating for outstanding students, and to avoid using any performance level as a “default” score. Ensure that all raters are applying the rubric in a similar way (e.g., through a rubric calibration session, or clear language describing differences between performance levels). 
  • Assessment data should only be used as part of a collegial or individual process of course or program improvement (i.e., assessment data should not be used to evaluate teaching performance). 
For more information about assessment, or using Canvas to facilitate assessment, please email the UWM assessment team at

Request Canvas admin permissions

Special admin permissions are needed to create outcomes and generate reports at the account level in Canvas. Please have a dean, department chair, or program manager contact with the name and email address of the designated outcomes manager. CETL will grant the individual the outcomes manager permission in Canvas.

Step 1: locating the admin area

With the Outcomes Manager role, there should be a new icon in the global Canvas navigation column called "Admin."
  1. Click the Admin icon.
  2. In the pop-up screen, click the name of the account. There should only be one account listed.
  3. On the account page, click "Outcomes."

Step 2: creating outcomes

  1. Click the "+Group" button and create and name the group folder to store all the outcomes in.
  2. Click the Group folder that was just created.
  3. In the group folder, click the "+Outcome" button.
  4. Enter a name for the outcome.
  5. Give a description for the outcome.
    1. Define the criteria ratings.
  6. Edit the names and point values of the criterion ratings.
  7. Enter a point value for Mastery of the outcome.
  8. For Calculation Method, select "Most Recent Score" from the drop-down box.
  9. Click Save.
  10. Repeat steps 3 through 9 for each outcome.

Step 3: attaching outcomes to rubrics

Now that all of the outcomes have been created, they can be attached to rubrics for easier deployment across the courses.
  1. On the account page in Canvas, click "Rubrics."
  2. Click the "+Add Rubric" button.
  3. Give the rubric the same name as the outcomes folder.
  4. Click "Find Outcome" to retrieve the outcomes that have been created.
  5. In the Find Outcomes pop-up window, click the outcomes folder.
  6. Select an outcome.
  7. Make sure the "Use this criterion for scoring" box is checked.
  8. Click the yellow "Import" button.
  9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 to import each outcome into the rubric.
  10. Click the yellow "Create Rubric" button.

Step 4: deploying the rubric in courses

With the outcomes attached to the rubric at the account level, the rubric can now be used by instructors in courses located in the account.

Directions for deploying the rubric at the course level can be found in this article: Canvas for Instructors - How do I use department or program level outcomes rubrics for assessment in my course? 

Please send the article to your instructors who will be using the rubric for program assessment.

Step 5: retrieving the assessment data

Once each instructor has completed the assessments in their courses, the data needs to be retrieved from Canvas. 
  1. Navigate back to the account page in Canvas.
  2. Click "Settings."
  3. At the top of the page, click the "Reports" tab.
  4. In the name column, find "Outcome Results."
  5. Click the "Configure..." button.
  6. Select the term for the report from the Term drop-down box.
  7. Click the bubble for "Outcomes."
  8. Click the yellow "Run Report" button.
The report will be generated as an Excel sheet and will be available for download.

Note on data security and student privacy

Outcomes assessment data downloaded from Canvas may contain student identifiers such as the student’s name or campus ID number. If your program is not using this information, identifiers should be deleted from the dataset immediately. Do not store identifiable learning outcomes assessment data on an unsecured computer; avoid emailing or using cloud storage for data with student identifiers (unless appropriate precautions are taken, such as encrypting the file). If the identifying information is being used to disaggregate data by salient student backgrounds or characteristics (e.g., to identify and close achievement gaps, or to investigate the impact of a prerequisite course), then identifying information should be deleted from the dataset when it is no longer needed. No information should be retained that could potentially be used to identify an individual student.

KeywordsUWM assessment, Canvas, program improvement, assessment rubrics, outcomes, data security, student privacy   Doc ID96739
OwnerBenjamin G.GroupCETL
Created2019-12-19 13:44:13Updated2023-10-25 10:41:14
SitesUW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
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