Sapling Learning > Hand-graded Activities

Document created by Digital Support on Jan 25, 2017Last modified by Digital Support on Apr 26, 2018
Version 14Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

For hand-graded activities, we recommend the Online essay option because it is easier to use than either of the file upload options. Online essays allow students to type an essay directly into Sapling, to which you can assign a grade. Special characters (such as Greek letters) and formatting options (such as subscripts) are available for students to use in their submission.

Create an Online Essay

Add an activity

On your main course page, in the topic block where you want to add a hand-graded activity, click Add an activity... then choose Online essay. The file upload options are also available to you, but aren't recommended in most cases.

Name activity

Give the essay a Name. This is what will appear to students on your main course page.

Include description (prompt)

In the Description, indicate what you want the students to write about.

Give due date and available from date (optional)

Set the available from date and due date (if applicable).

Allow late submissions (optional)

You can also set whether or not you want to prevent late submissions (if not, students will be able to submit their result late, and you can see when they submitted to adjust their score). We recommend setting the Prevent late submissions option to Yes.

Allow resubmitting (optional)

If you would like your students to keep trying (after you give them feedback), turn on Allow resubmitting.

Turn on instructor alerts (optional)

If you would like to be alerted when students submit answers, turn on Email alert to instructors.

Turn on comments inline (optional)

If you would like be able to comment directly within a student's essay, turn on Comments inline. Otherwise, you will be given a separate comment area for your feedback.

Make sure assignment is visible and set grade category

Make sure Visible is set to Show (to make sure your students can see the essay assignment when its Available from date arrives). You may also want to set the Grade category.

Click "Save and return to course"

Click Save and return to course to save your essay assignment. The essay will appear at the bottom of the unit where you added it.

Grade an Online Essay

Open activity

Click the name of the essay you wish to update from your main course page.

View submitted activities

Click the link that says No attempts have been made on this activity, or View X submitted activities (where X is the number of students who have submitted a response). Once you are on the submissions page, there are several options for how to navigate and score the submissions.

Allow quick grading

To Allow quick grading, check the box at the bottom of the page, then click Save preferences. If quick grading is enabled, you can set grades and leave comments without leaving this page.


Be sure to click the Save all my feedback button when finished. If you like, you can uncheck the box to notify students by e-mail that their assignment has been graded.

View submissions

To see a student's submission, click the link in the Last modified (Student) column. If there is no link in the student's row in this column, they have not made a submission yet. The student's essay will appear in a pop-up window.


View and grade submission in one window

If you are not using quick grading, click the Grade or Update link in the Status column to see the student's submission, the grading options, and a comment box all together in one window. Be sure to Save changes or Save and show next when finished.

Essay Comments

Comments are always optional, but their purpose is to give the student feedback on their essay and/or justify the grade you are giving them.

Enable comment inline

Inline comments (i.e., annotations from the grader within the student's essay) can be enabled for an online essay at any time. (Note that inline comments are only available for online essays, not for file upload.) When creating a new essay, choose Yes from the Comment inline drop-down menu. To find and edit this option for an existing essay, click the three dots icon (...) on the main course page next to the essay, then click Edit.

If enabled, you can make an inline comment by clicking Grade or Update within the table of student submissions, then begin typing in the top-most box. Be sure to Save changes when finished.

Where can students see comments I leave them?

Instructor comments will show up to the student on the Grades page next to their score for that activity. When inline comments are enabled, the comment/feedback box will show the student's entire essay plus your comments. When inline comments are not enabled, the comments/feedback box will contain only the instructor's comments without the student's full essay.

Example student grades view with essay feedback

If after leaving comments, you'd like to see how it looks to a particular student, return to your main course page and click Grades in the left-hand navigation menu, then click User Report, then select the student's name from the drop-down menu at the top right. To get back to your normal view of the gradebook, click Grader Report (on the same line as User Report).

Related links