Active Teaching Lab Recap: Groups in Canvas with Andrea Porter

Fri May 5, 2017

The May 5, 2017 Active Teaching Lab explored peer learning tools in Canvas. Andrea Porter shared how she used the Canvas Groups tool to facilitate peer-to-peer learning in her Pharmacy course. Andrea PorterIn a 150-student blended course, students are divided into groups of 3 to complete group-specific course assignments including reflections using the discussions area of Canvas as well as a year-long portfolio using GoogleDocs.


  • Field-based course, where students spend most of their time in the community.
  • Course has been moved from D2L to Moodle and now to Canvas (course portability is a good idea!)
  • Course focuses on the professional practice of documenting their work, so they used Moodle Wiki before, but now they use Google docs. Students find it much easier. Andrea prefers Google Docs too.
  • In the Google Docs they also have groups do peer review of other groups’ work (there’s a bit of workload in Google Sharing to make this work smoothly). Primary group has edit access, and Peer grading group only had comment access.
    • Frustration: In Canvas gradebook, there’s no way to sort by Group, so she has to find the students individually.
  • They also have a weekly group discussion, where students reflect on a few questions. They have a rubric for that: Exemplary Credit and Credit (essentially the same — 4.1pts vs 4.0pts)
    • Issue: Would hide “Discussion” navigation menu (and link to them individually in the daily page) because students were confused between the weekly Discussion and the Group Discussions.
  • Groups and Discussions are not created equal. Discussion areas cannot be separated by sections. Use sections for graded clumping of students, and use Groups to clump them for ungraded assignments.
  • View the session’s activity sheet for additional support materials

Active Teaching Labs are held every Friday from 8:45-9:45am (and every other Monday from 12:30pm-1:30pm, see events calendar for dates) in room 120, Middleton Building. Check out upcoming labs or read recaps from past labs — or see them all ( To stay informed about upcoming Labs, check back to this website or sign up for regular announcements by sending an email to

Get Started with Groups in Canvas: