Canvas (LMS) as a means for effective student learning assessment across an institution of higher education


  • Frederick Burrack Kansas State University
  • Dorothy Thompson Kansas State University



Assessment, Student Learning Outcomes, Technology


Programmatic and institutional assessment initiatives have emerged and continuously evolved across higher education institutions through the early part of the twenty-first century. These initiatives have stemmed from a growing emphasis on assessing the quality of learning that occurs throughout the collegiate education. An assessment process that involves faculty and staff collecting, analyzing and discussing the data over time to guide improvement decisions sounds like a reasonable pursuit. Unfortunately, such a process sometimes results in apathy and dissention.  Technology has provided solutions that can remove the tedium and time-consumption from student learning assessment. The purpose of this article is to provide a thorough understanding of the assessment capabilities and data-collecting automaticity processes of Canvas. Provided are examples of ways to extract and disseminate Canvas data to be used for decisions making. The article includes (a) the structure of Canvas, (b) steps for how to set up Canvas for collecting student achievement data directly from coursework and sortable by outcomes and associated criteria, (c) strategies to export data from Canvas, and (d) ideas for visualizing outcome data.

Author Biographies

Frederick Burrack, Kansas State University

Frederick Burrack is Director of Assessment, Professor of Music Education, Graduate Chair for Music, and has been awarded Distinguished Graduate Faculty.He has served as the Chair for the National Association for Music Education Assessment Special Research Interest Group and as Co-Chair for their work in developing Model Cornerstone Assessments that accompany the National K-12 Music Standards. His co-edited book “Applying Model Cornerstone Assessments in K–12 Music: A research supported approach” was published in 2018. A new text for assessing music "Developing and Applying Assessments in the Music Classroom" will be published in 2020 through Routledge Publishing with co-authors Dr. Kelly Parkes, Dr. Phillip Payne, and Dr. Brian Wesolowski. Dr. Burrack presents on developing effective assessment processes and consults nationally and internationally.

Dorothy Thompson, Kansas State University

Dorothy Thompson, Ph.D. Assistant Director of Assessment, Kansas State University

Frederick Burrack, Ph.D. Director of Assessment, Kansas State University