Your  Account:

Using Perusall for Shared Annotation of Course Readings

Getting students to complete the assigned readings before class is often a problem. Perusall is a free social learning platform for reading and annotating that aims to motivate students through active and collaborative learning strategies.

How it works is you create a “course” in Perusall, upload readings (or adopts the electronic version of a textbook from publishers), then create reading assignments. While reading the text, students highlight, post or reply to comments or questions associated with the highlighted material, or create private notes.

Perusall creates groups and calculates grades based on multiple factors. As the due date approaches, Perusall monitors continuously, and sends students a private nudge with help and directions. Best of all, the Perusall dashboard provides you with a window into your students’ learning. The software generates a confusion report and other analytics about individual student engagement, as well as alerting you to at risk students.

Perusall is integrated into Cougar Courses (Canvas) and does not require a separate license or login for you or your students.

Perusall Support

The instructions below will help you get up and running with Perusall. If you can't find the answer here, check Perusall Instructor Support. If you need to contact Perusall for assistance, while on the Knowledge Base page, click "Contact Perusall Support" in the upper right.

Creating Your Perusall Course

Create your Perusall “course” by adding an External Tool Assignment in Cougar Courses.

  1. In your Cougar Courses course go to the Assignments Index page.
  2. Click +Assignment in the upper right.
  3. Give your Assignment a name. Keep in mind if you want the grades to automatically sync from Perusall into Cougar Courses, the name of the assignment in CC must exactly match the name of the assignment in Perusall.
  4. Set the Submission Type to External Tool.
  5. Click Find.
  6. Choose Perusall from the list and click Select.
  7. Set any other desired settings such as due date. When ready, click Save and Publish.
  8. Click the "Load [assignment name] in a new window" to launch Perusall.
  9. Enter the details of your course (department, start and end dates, analytics setting, and enrollment and group size). When ready, click Save Changes. You are now ready to build your assignments in Perusall.

The Perusall Interface

Perusall interface

  • My Courses: View and access your other Perusall courses.
  • Course home:
    • Get Started: Set course details, students will see welcome message and assignments.
    • Library: Add content by uploading documents, web pages, or use the Perusall catalog (note: using the catalog could result in a fee for students)
    • Assignments: Create and delete assignments, including differentiated assignments view and download your class roster
    • Students: Your roster in Perusall will populate automatically as students launch Perusall from Cougar Courses.
  • Settings: Set course details (including a welcome message), adjust course grouping, and set scoring options.
  • Gradebook: View current scores for each assignment
  • Export data: Export all content, all comments, assignment information, or all course data.
  • Student view: Use this to see what your students will see.
  • Notifications: Users are notified via email when anyone responds to a question they’ve posted, or when they’re mentioned in a comment. All notifications can be viewed, and managed here.
  • Notes: Users are able to create notes and share them with another user or the instructor. Notes created here are private unless shared with others.
  • Add to my Calendar: Perusall provides an assignment calendar that you can subscribe to from the calendar on your computer or phone; depending on your calendar app's settings and capabilities, the calendar can also update automatically if new assignments are added or if due dates change.
  • Announcements: Create and view announcements. Only instructors can create announcements but students can view and respond.
  • General Discussion: This is an open chat for discussion, available to everyone.  

Course Setup

Add content options

Adding Content

  1. From your Course home page, click on Library.
  2. To add content from Perusall's catalog, click Add Content > Book from Perusall Catalog.
  3. To upload a reading (PDF, Word doc, etc.) from your computer, click Add Content > Documents from my device or Add Content > Documents from Dropbox.
  4. To add a web page as a reading, click Add  Content > Web page.
  5. To add content (and/or assignments) from another Perusall course, click Add Content > Materials from another course.
  6. To add a video click Add Content > Video (YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, etc.)
  7. To add a quiz, click Add Content > Quiz.

Learn more about adding content to your Perusall course.

Creating Assignments

  1. Click on Assignments on your course home page.
  2. Click Add assignment and select the content item you want to assign.
  3. Select the part of the item to assign (all content or assign page rangers) and click Next Step.
  4. Specify a deadline, assignment name, and instructions for students including additional settings and reminders. When finished click Next Steps. 
  5. Choose course scoring settings or specific new soring settings for the assignment and click OK. Note: Scoring is set with a range from the lowest possible score a student can receive to the highest possible score a student can receive. If you would like Perusall to automatically give credit for students submitting any work at all, you can set the threshold score to 0

Learn more about managing assignments.

Setting Course Policies

  • Navigate to Settings > General to set overall course policies about assignment availability and welcome message.
  • Navigate to Settings > Grouping to manage discussion groups. Learn more about groups
  • Navigate to Settings > Scoring to determine how Perusall will generate engagement scores, when to sync scores to Cougar Courses, and when scores are released to students.
  • Navigate to Settings > Advanced to adjust fine-grained course options such as assignment score precision and hiding grade feedback from students.

Viewing Discussions Within Content

  1. Navigate to Course home.
  2. Open a document in the Library tab, or open an assignment in Assignments tab.
  3. When you (or your students) open a document, you'll see highlights superimposed on the document that represent comments that students have entered.
  4. Highlight text by clicking and dragging. You will see a new conversation panel appear on the right side of the page. Enter a comment or question, and press Enter to save it.
  5. When you start a comment thread, the text you highlighted will show in blue; student comments are highlighted in yellow.
  6. When someone responds to a question or comment, the original author receives a notification by email and can post their own response by replying to the email. Students that ask a question can also indicate that one or more of the responses answers their original question.
  7. Control the highlights that you see by clicking the All comments filter dropdown at the top of the page and selecting a filter.

Grading in Perusall

General Grading Options

There are two options that need to be set if you are going to manually grade your students.

  1. Navigate to the Settings tab and click on the Scoring tab across the top.
  2. Set when Perusall should release scores to students: immediately, as student submits, only after instructor manually releases them, after assignment deadline has passed, etc.
  3. Next, enter a lowest and highest possible score for students. This will allow you to grade based on the point range you enter.
  4. Only use the “threshold score for credit” option if you want student scores to be reported as credit (1) /no credit (0). (Credit is given for scores at or higher than this threshold value, on the assignment score scale specified above. Set to 0 to indicate that submitting any work at all should result in credit for the assignment. Leave blank to disable threshold scoring.)
  5. When finished, click Save Changes.

Automatic Scoring Criteria

Perusall has an automatic scoring feature that allows you to assign full credit when a student does anything in an assignment (ex: leaves a comment, asks a question, etc.). 

  1. Navigate to the Settings tab and click on the Scoring tab across the top.
  2. Scroll down to the Automatic scoring criteria and click into each of the rubric criteria to set the percentage for each criteria.
  3. Click the option button in each criteria to open additional options regarding how Perusall should award credit.
  4. Make sure all your percentages equal 100%, use 0% for any field you do not want counted towards students scores. (ex: Set quizzes to 0 if you are not using the quiz feature inside Perusall).
  5. Once you are happy with how Perusall will award points to students click the Save Changes button. 

Learn more about scoring in Perusall. 

Syncing Your Grades to Cougar Courses

There are three ways to sync the grades in Perusall to your gradebook in Cougar Courses. You can sync each individual Perusall assignment grade, sync the average Perusall score for each student, or you can export the grades to Excel and then import them into Cougar Courses in order to pick and choose which scores are used.

Sync Individual Assignment Scores

To sync students’ individual assignment scores, you will need to create an assignment in Cougar Courses for every assignment in Perusall.

  • In Perusall, navigate to the Settings tab and click Scoring and set the "Grade sync to LMS" setting to either "Automatically sync individual assignment scores back to the LMS" or "Manually sync individual assignment scores back to the LMS." Click Save changes.
  • If you have already created the assignment in Perusall, but not yet in CC:
    • In Perusall, click Course home, then Assignments, and select an assignment. "Click Copy full title for LMS" and the assignment name will be copied to the clipboard
    • In Cougar Courses, click Assignments then +Assignment. Paste the assignment’s title into the Assignment name field. 
    • The number in the Points field should match the high end of the Assignment score range of your Perusall course (which is by default 0-3 and found in Settings then Advanced). 
    • Under Submission Type choose External Tool, the click Find. Select Perusall from the list and click Select.
    • Set the rest of the assignment settings and then click Save & Publish.
  • If you have already created the assignment in CC, but not yet in Perusall:
    • In Perusall, follow the steps above for "creating assignments" section above, just be sure to give it the exact same name as in CC.

Learn more about Individual Assignment Grade Sync in Perusall.

Note: In order for grades to sync correctly, the student must get to the Perusall assignment by clicking on the corresponding assignment in Cougar Courses. If they access the assignment another way (a separate link in CC or through another assignment within Perusall), the grade will not sync. Once the student launches the Perusall assignment from the assignment in CC, the grade should sync.

Sync Average Score

To sync a student’s average score (each individual assignment score summed and then divided by the total number of assignments) you will only need to create one assignment in Cougar Courses. 

  • In Perusall, navigate to the Settings tab and then click Scoring. Scroll to "Grade sync to LMS" setting and select "Automatically sync students' average scores back to the LMS" and click Save changes.
  • In Canvas, click Assignments then +Assignment.
  • Title your Perusall Assignment Link. (For example, “Perusall Assignments”.) 
  • The number in the Points field should match the high end of the Assignment score range of your Perusall course (which is by default 0-3 and found in Settings > Scoring).
  • Under Submission Type choose External Tool, the click Find. Select Perusall from the list and click Select.
  • Click Save & Publish.

Learn more about average grade sync in Perusall.

Turn Off Sync and Manual Export/Import Grades

If you do not want to use the individual assignment option or the average score option, you can export the gradebook from Perusall and import into Cougar Courses. 

  • In Perusall, navigate to the Settings tab and then click Scoring. Scroll to "Grade sync to LMS" setting and select "Do not sync grades back to the LMS" and click Save changes.
  • In Perusall, navigate to the Gradebook and click the Download button at the top of the page.
  • You can use Excel to edit the data and then copy the columns you want added back into Cougar Courses.
  • To import new grade columns into CC you will want to first download the gradebook from CC. In CC, click on Grades, then the Actions drop down menu, and select Export Entire Gradebook
  • Copy the columns from the Perusall spreadsheet and paste them at the end of the sheet you downloaded from CC. 
  • In your CC gradebook, click the Actions drop down menu, and select Import.
  • Click the Choose File button, select the spreadsheet, and then click the Upload Data button.  
  • Once the data processes, CC will ask you what to do with the new columns. For each Perusall column you added select “A new assignment” from the drop down and assign the total points possible then click Continue.
  • Once you have reviewed the changes click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page. 

Learn more about how to export and import the Canvas gradebook.