Student success is the goal of every teacher, and engagement in your Canvas course can be an indicator of that success. Canvas has integrated tools and features that can help you track and analyze student participation in your course and determine how your course content is being used by students. The data can be especially useful to proactively identify students and offer feedback for improvement. Getting this information before the semester is over is a great way to make sure that the feedback you provide to students will directly impact their progress in your course. For a quick overview of course activity, submissions, and grades for all students, use Course Analytics.

By default, analytics are shown in a graph format. To view the details of a specific item, hover over the specific bar you want to view. Activity is logged only when a student participates in an activity, such as submitting an assignment or replying to a discussion. To view analytics without hovering over the bars, click the Analytics icon (Screenshot of the Canvas analytics icon) to view the data in a table format instead. For more information about course Analytics, see the Canvas guide How do I view Course Analytics?

You can sort the student analytics table by student name, page views, participation, and current score using the arrows in the column header. To view the analytics of a particular student, click on the student’s name.

Use the mail icon to send a message directly to the student. You can step through individual student analytics using the previous and next buttons.

If you find students with low participation or scores, gather usage statistics for more detail about how students are utilizing your course content. The Canvas Student Access Report will help you determine which content a student has viewed, the number of times the student has viewed the content, the number of times the student participated, and the last time the student viewed the content. The Access Report is useful to see which pages a student viewed and to see if a student downloaded files in your course, both of which are not participation activities.

Do you have a large enrollment course?

You can still send personalized messages to your students. Consider writing a few short template messages about common issues, and then cut and paste these into the individual communications. For example, you may notice that many students have not participated in a weekly discussion of that several of them have spent less than the desired number of hours accessing course readings. Craft an encouraging note such as, “I see that you haven’t offered your thoughts in our most recent discussions. Your point of view is important here, and I’d encourage you to add some responses before our next paper. Our online discussions are a great place to test out paper ideas, and practice making connections between the topics we’ve already covered.” Then direct students to the course materials or resources out of class that may be most helpful.

For more information about Student Access Report, see the Canvas guide How do I view the course access report for an individual user? If you use UD Capture Space videos from the classroom or your personal recordings in your course Media Gallery or other Canvas assets, analytics are available to help you determine if and how students are watching them.

The data can tell you if a student watched your videos and the time the student spent watching. This data is especially useful if a student has absences and you want to know if a student viewed missing lectures. For more information about your UD Capture Space video analytics, refer to the UD Capture in Canvas: Analytics video tutorial.

Finally, check your Canvas Grades to identify patterns of student inactivity. If you find a student has several missing assignments or low assignment scores, use the Canvas Massage Students Who… gradebook option to quickly e-mail the student.

You can message students who:

  • Haven’t submitted yet
  • Haven’t been graded
  • Scored less than X points
  • Scored more than X points

Please note that the New Gradebook allows you to tag and color code missing grades.

Canvas will address the message to students who fall into the category you selected, and you can add a personal message to remind students to submit or to offer feedback or support options.

For more information about messaging students, see the Canvas guide How do I send a message to my students from Gradebook?

Using these analytics and messaging tools may benefit both you and your students. Not only can you take prompt action to identify students that may need support before it is too late, but you can also track student usage of your materials and modify the structure of your course if you find students are not engaging with your content.

If you have any questions about how to use Canvas effectively, IT Academic Technology Services staff is always available at the Faculty Commons (116 Pearson Hall) or you can send your questions to

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