Canvas Learning Mastery Paths

Differentiation in Canvas is not as easy as we hoped. We can easily adjust due dates, but what is the best way of offering differentiated content? One way is through Learning Mastery Paths. Erin Kwok at Pacific Cascade Middle School has taken the initiative in understanding more about this feature in Canvas and its connection to the ISTE Empowered Learner standard. She has shared her ideas for this post. So let’s see what these are all about!

Student Choice

When students have the opportunity to select HOW they want to show their learning, they are more likely to take responsibility, ownership, and investment in the project.

Sometimes we allow students to select among 3-9 assignments in a choice board or menu of options. Often these options represent various learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory, visual. Many teachers already do this with assignments or projects.

Reimagine choice with Learning Mastery Paths

A mastery path allows teachers to differentiate instruction or assignments based on student scores on a specific quiz.

The first step in creating a mastery path is to create the content for the different paths.

You can have up to 9 different items, including discussions, quizzes, assignments, and pages. You can use the same items for the different paths too.

In this example, Erin has created 3 assignments each to fit auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Each are pages, not assignments.

Make sure that you check the “Allow in mastery paths” when you create each item for your content.

Next you need to create the actual quiz. You will build it like a normal quiz. You will not want this to Sync to Skyward, as the score is to determine which path they will take. Question banks are good, but not necessary.

It is important when making the quiz to remember not to give partial credit. In this case, Erin needed the questions to show one learning style or the other. To ensure this, she made it so that one learning style was worth a lot of points, and one was worth none. Some questions are therefore worth more points than others.

You will then need to determine what each pathway leads to and in this case it would be project types based on learning style. Since students will be working on different projects, you will want these to be pages and not assignments. Work that is put in the mastery path will not be graded. When differentiating work in your course you can draw everyone back together with an assignment that then appears in the gradebook. In this case, you could create an assignment for the project submission which everyone can submit no matter which pathway they ended up taking.

More Tips for Creating Mastery Paths

  • Open the Mastery Path tab in your quiz
  • Add up to 3 pathways and 3 items in a pathway
  • Use the & / “or” to decide whether it is a required task or an option
  • Determine the points needed for each path. You can adjust the number at each of the paths.
  • Your quiz needs to have automatic grading, which allows students to have their path right away. This can be changed in the gradebook (3 more dots next to the assignment, “Grade posting policy”).

As we wrap up this post, there are some great parting thoughts. Erin writes, “Students use their preferences to help them determine their choice or options for their project. When students are given too many choices, sometimes they have a hard time selecting. This gives them the opportunity to find 3 options based on their likes, using their strengths. This should help them feel more ownership and investment in their project.

  1. Erin and Stephanie thank you for sharing the Mastery Paths tool in support of the ISTE Empowered Learner standard. Differentiation and student choice are key to student engagement. I appreciate the work you are both doing to support our students and schools.



  2. […] option: add to mastery paths and allow the mastery path quiz to determine which page they […]



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