Using Assignment

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.6. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version of Moodle may be available here: Using Assignment.

Note: This page is about using the new Assignment module in Moodle 2.3 onwards. For documentation on using Assignments (2.2), see Using Assignment in the 2.2 docs.


Different Submission options

The standard assignment submission options available are:

  • File submissions (students submit a file for assessment)
  • Online text (students can type their responses directly in Moodle)
  • Submission comments

Note: It is also possible to use the assignment module for grading an "offline assignment", ie, one where work is done outside of Moodle. This is done by simply unchecking the above three options.

Which submission type suits you best?

You want students to type shorter or longer responses directly online

  • Set Online text to Yes. This works well for younger children who will only manage a sentence or two and works just as well for higher education students who write more.
    • Advantage - quick for the student to get started; no need to use a word-processing program and upload the file.
    • Disadvantage - potential worries that if the internet goes down, the work students have typed in and not yet saved might be lost. If the word count is expected to be large, setting Online text to No and File submission to Yes might be a better option.

You want students to submit work you can download in a specified program

  • Set File submission to Yes, set the number of files you will allow using the Maximum number of uploaded files setting and the file sizes by using the Maximum submission size setting.
    • Advantage - better than students emailing work as the whole class's work is collated in one space on your course. Markers can provide comments directly on the student work.
    • Advantage - with "Attempts reopened" enabled, teachers can see the progression through various drafts of a student's work.
    • Disadvantage - assignments must downloaded to be viewed (but they can be downloaded in bulk) and the teacher needs the appropriate program to open them.

You want students to submit files at different times for a project

  • Set File submission to Yes, and use Maximum number of uploaded files to set the maximum number of separate files they can upload
    • Advantage - all project files are in one assignment area for grading so they get a single grade.
    • Disadvantage - all project files are in one assignment area for grading - so they can only have a single grade!

You want students to write a response to a video/sound file/image

  • Set up an assignment allowing online text submission and get students to use the Moodle media icon to add video/sound/image files.

You want students to answer a series of questions on a video/sound file/image

  • Investigate the Quiz module. Assignments are really just for a single question.

You want to grade work students have done offline

  • Uncheck the submission types when setting up the assignment. Students won't be required to do anything but you can use the assignment to grade them for work done outside of Moodle.

You want to view, comment on and send back students' assignments

  • Set up an assignment allowing file submissions.
    • Advantage: useful for teachers who like using the "comment" options in word-processing programs for example. If you have Ghostscript enabled on your server and the students upload PDF files, you can annotate them inline. See the section Annotating PDF files below.
    • Disadvantage: if students upload other file types, you have to download them, comment and then re-upload them.

You want students to send you a comment or note along with their uploaded work

  • In the settings, set Submission comments to Yes.

You want to allow students to redraft and decide when to submit the work

  • In the settings set Require students click submit button to Yes. Students can then control when their draft work is submitted to the teacher.

You want students to keep an ongoing journal or do an iterative assignment

  • In the settings set Require students click submit button to No. Students can continue to make changes to their assignment and at no point do they 'submit'. If the work will be graded at some point it is recommended that either Prevent late submissions is set to Yes to ensure that no changes can be made after the due date, or all submissions are locked when grading commences to ensure that the work is not altered during grading.
    • Advantage: the work remains in one place and is constantly improved, graded (if needed) and improved again.
    • Disadvantage: there is no record/history of previous attempts (such as with the Wiki). The online text assignment does not replicate the display of a journal or blog where each new entry is additional to the previous ones.

You want students to submit work in groups

  • In the settings, set "Students submit in groups" to Yes. If you just do this, then once one student has submitted, the assignment will be flagged as submitted even if the others haven't contributed. If you want to ensure everyone has an input, set "Require students click submit button" to Yes and then change "Require all group members to submit" to Yes. The assignment will only be classed as submitted when each member has contributed, and once one student has submitted, the remaining members's names will be displayed for the group to see who still needs to add their input.

You want to grade students' work anonymously

  • In the settings, choose "Blind marking". When students submit assignments, their names will be replaced by radomly generated participant numbers so you will not know who is who. Note that this is not totallyItalic text

blind marking because you can reveal their identities in the assignment settings and you can work out identities from the logs - so this might not be suitable if your establishment has very precise privacy requirements.

You want to read and grade student assignments offline

  • In the settings, choose "Offline grading worksheet". When students have submitted, click "View/grade all submissions" and you can download their assignments from the link "Download all submission" and download the grading sheet from the link "Download grading worksheet". You can then edit grades and re-upload the grading worksheet. You can also upload multiple feedback files in a zip from this drop down menu. See Assignment settings for an explanation of how to use the "upload multiple feedback files as zip" feature.

You want to hide students' grades until a time of your choosing.

Use 'marking workflow' as explained in Assignment settings

You want to moderate other colleagues' marking or allocate certain teachers to certain students

Use 'marking allocation' as explained in Assignment settings

How do students submit their assignments?

The first page students will see when they click on the assignment activity link from the course page will display the assignment name, description and the submission status. The first time a student views the assignment it will look like this:

Student view of assignment

The submission status section includes:

  • Submission status
  • Grading status
  • Due date
  • Time remaining
  • Last modified
  • Submission details

As they progress through the assignment the Submission status and Grading status will update and the Last modified date will appear.

Example of submitted and graded assignment

If the student uploaded a pdf file which the teacher has annotated, this will be made available in the feedback section. The student can search through the document and filter specific comments.

Student view of graded pdf file
Searching and filtering comments in annotated pdf

Submission statuses include:

  • Nothing submitted for this assignment
  • Draft (not submitted)
  • Submitted for grading

Grading statuses include:

  • Not graded
  • Graded

File submission

To submit a file submission, students complete the following steps:

  • Click the ‘Add submission’ button to bring up the file upload page.
  • Upload the relevant file into the submission. They are able to ‘drag and drop’ the file into the submission box.
  • Click ‘Save Changes’.
  • There should now be a Last modified date and the file(s) uploaded will also be displayed.
  • Depending on how the assignment is setup the status will either read ‘Submitted for grading’ - in which case no further action is need, or ‘Draft (not submitted)’.
  • If changes are required, click on ‘Edit my submission’.
  • Once ready to submit, click ‘Submit assignment’. Note that once the assignment is 'submitted’ no further changes are allowed.
Student view when adding a submission
Student view once file is uploaded
Student view when submitting assignment

Note: Depending on how the assignment is setup students may see both a file submission page and an online text editor.

Online text

To submit online text, students complete the following steps:

  • Click the ‘Add submission’ button to bring up the online text editor page
  • Type the relevant text into the text editor, or paste from a previously written file.
  • Click ‘Save Changes’.
  • There should now be a Last modified date and the first 100 characters entered will also be displayed.
  • Depending on how the assignment is setup the status will either read ‘Submitted for grading’ - in which case no further action is need, or ‘Draft (not submitted)’
  • If changes are required, click on ‘Edit my submission’.
  • Once ready to submit, click ‘Submit assignment’. Note that once the assignment is 'submitted’ no further changes are allowed.
Online text entered
Sumbitting assignment

Submission comments

Depending on how the assignment has been setup, there may be a section where students can leave submission comments.

Student comments

Submission notifications

Moodle allows the sending of a notification to the student when a student submits an assignment. This feature provides reassurance to the students that they have correctly submitted their assignments, especially when using features like draft submissions and file uploads. Moodle also allows notifications to teachers either when students submit assignments, or when students submit assignments late, or both. This feature notifies markers of the presence of assignments, or provides a reminder to access assignments submitted after the due date.

Why is this useful?

  • Provides a receipt for student that the assignment has been successfully submitted
  • Provides notification to marker that assignment are submitted
  • Notifies of any changes to submission - for student’s record and to notify marker
  • Provides notification to student that assignment feedback is available

When is it sent?

If ‘Require students to hit submit button’ is enabled within the assignment which requires students to click a final submit button and prevents further changes, only one notification will be sent upon hitting the submit button.

If ‘Require students to hit submit button’ is not enabled, and students are allowed to make alterations or add/remove files from their submission, this receipt will be sent every time the file is altered - ie once on adding the file, once on adding a second file, once on removal of file, once on uploading a new file.

Where are these settings?

Submission Notification for Grader - Assignment > Edit Settings The grader is given two options:

  • Notify Graders about Submissions - YES/NO
  • Notify Graders about Late Submissions - YES/NO

The first option will notify the grader on any/all submissions made. The second will only send a notification for assignments submitted after the ‘Due Date’.

The Late Submissions option will be greyed out unless ‘Notify Graders about Submissions’ is selected as NO because ‘Notify Graders about Submissions’ will also send receipts for assignments submitted after the due date. To fully disable the grader receiving notifications, change both options to NO.

Submission Notification for Students - My Profile Settings > Messaging Tickboxes on the messaging page can be set by the student depending on their preference. A student can opt to receive notification via email, popup message, jabber or all.

Grader notifications
Student notifications

Assignment notification - On submission of an assignment, the student will receive a notification that their assignment has been successfully received.

Viewing and grading submitted assignments

When students have submitted their assignments, they can be accessed by clicking on the assignment activity. This will bring up the Grading Summary page.

The Grading Summary page displays a summary of the assignment, including; number of participants, number of drafts, number of submitted assignments, due date and time remaining.

Clicking on the the ‘View/grade all submissions’ link will bring up the Grading Table.

The Grading Table contains columns of information about the student, the status of their submission, a link to grade their submission, a link to each submission and feedback comments and files (if enabled).

Submission status

If you will be assigning grades to student work, you may want to take note of the submission status before you begin the marking process. If you have required students click the Submit button, you may find that some submissions are still marked as Draft (not submitted), meaning the student has either uploaded a file(s) or entered some text, but has not clicked ‘Submit assignment’.

If it's after the due date and you are about to commencing marking that you use ‘Prevent submission changes’ to stop students from making changes to their assignment. You can do this one by one by using the icon in the Edit column.

Or you can select two or more students by putting a tick in the select column and going to 'Lock submissions’ from the With selected menu under the grading table.

Likewise you can also revert a student's submission to draft if they have uploaded the incorrect file. Instead of selecting ‘Prevent submission changes’ select ‘Revert the submission to draft’, or place ticks against selected students and choose 'Revert the submission to draft status' from the With selected menu under the grading table.

Submission statuses
Prevent submission changes dropdown
Lock submissions
Revert to draft
Revert to draft status

Quick grading

Under Options (scroll to bottom of the page) you can determine your preferences for the number of assignments you wish to display per page. You can also filter assignments either to show all (no filter), submitted, or requires grading. This is also where you can turn on quick grading.

Quick grading allows you to enter grades and a feedback comment (if enabled in Assignment settings) directly into the grading table. Quick grading is not compatible with advanced grading and is not recommended when there are multiple markers.

  1. You can enter grades and feedback comments using quick grading. It is now possible to enter grades in decimal format. You will not be able to return a feedback file to your students (if enabled in the Assignment settings).
  2. Enter the grades
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the grading table and click 'Save all quick grading changes'
  4. A confirmation screen will appear.

Student grading page

If you have enabled File Feedback in the Assignment settings and wish to upload either the marked student assignment, a completed text based feedback document or audio feedback, click on the green tick in the Grade column (or use the icon in the Edit column and select Grade).

Here you can enter grades, feedback comments and feedback files (if enabled in the Assignment settings). You can use drag and drop to upload feedback files.

Green tick
Feedback files

Annotating PDF files

New feature
in Moodle 2.6!

If the student has uploaded a PDF file you will see a link to Launch the PDF editor on the students' individual grading screen. This will display the PDF inline, allowing you to annotate it, using a variety of tools, stamps (if uploaded by the admin) and comments which may be saved to a comments bank. When the annotations are complete, clicking to save the changes will result in it being displayed to the student as part of their feedback. (Note that simply clicking on the file itself will not display it inline for annotating.)

Teacher view when grading a pdf
Annotating a pdf
Make sure you save the changes

Comments may be added and then saved in a quick list for future use. When adding a new comment, click the icon top right to access previously saved comments:

Saving and re-using comments

Note: The annotate PDF feature requires Ghostscript to be installed on the server. This can be checked in Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > Assignments > Feedback plugins > Annotate PDF.

Downloading student submissions

You can download a zip file containing all of the assignment submissions by selecting the ‘Download all submissions’ options from the Choose menu at the top of the grading table, or in the settings menu.

File submissions will be downloaded in the format uploaded by the student. Online text submissions will be downloaded as html files. Each file in the zip will include the student first and lastname at the beginning of the filename for identification purposes.

Note - the files will have a Moodle unique identifier appended to the name, not your institutional student ID number.

Keeping records (archiving, exporting, backing up)

When students unenrol from a Moodle area, their records become invisible through the Gradebook interface. In order to have the information to hand, departments or course teaching teams may need systems in place to keep their own records for the data retention period required in their particular context. There are two separate procedures for exporting student submissions and marks.

To export marks (with or without feedback):

  1. Go to your course area
  2. From its front page Settings block, select Grades; the Grader Report loads.
  3. From the Grader Report Settings block, select Export; a menu displays.
  4. From the menu, if you need easy viewing and running calculations you probably want to select one of the spreadsheet formats; a page of export settings loads
  5. Use the Visible Groups pulldown menu to limit the export to specific groups, as required
  6. In Options, you indicate whether feedback comments are included
  7. In Grade Items To Be Included lists you can, if required, omit particular Activities from the report
  8. When you've finished with the settings, click on Submit; a preview of your export displays
  9. Click on Download to export to the format you chose, and save the file.

To download the original student submissions:

  1. In your course area, click the link to the Assignment whose submissions you want to download.
  2. Click on the link to View/Grade all submissions; the Grading Table will load.
  3. Click the link to 'Download all submissions' (either from the Choose menu or from the Settings block), and save the file.

Tips and Tricks

  • Want to use an Assignment activity again in another Moodle site? Use the backup and restore options.
  • Want to use an Assignment activity in another course you teach? Use the Import function in the course administration block.
  • Moodle will sometimes appear not to be uploading a resubmitted assignment - you seem to be downloading the original assignment. This is a cache issue, in short, go to "Tools > Clear Recent History" in Firefox or "Tools > Delete Browsing History > Delete Temporary Files" in Windows Explorer. The newer file will then appear.

See also


Examples from School demo site