The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Race Against the Clock: Canvas Timer


My legs sit crossed in my seat, my pointer and middle finger flipping through the canvas questions. I try not to think about the timer that sits, flaring its greedy pixels, warning me I have little time before I meet my fate. My mind watches the letters fall off the screen, unable to focus on the words anymore as if I am reading it in Italian and answering in German.

I swear I knew the answer to this…it’s been twenty seconds? I’ve taken too long on this question, I need to move on. I click a random answer and send a silent prayer it’s the right one, my fingers hovering over the submit button. There is no time to review my answers, not this time. I shut my eyes and click submit. 

The little green bar on Canvas shows me 87%. I roll my eyes and shut the laptop. This is the third time I’ve taken a quiz which I’ve studied well for only to end with a score I am not happy with. Certainly not the score I studied for. I checked on my Canvas grades to see how far my grade dropped, until I realized something. The last three quizzes have had timers on them, and I have consistently been getting scores lower than expected. It’s not that I changed my studying methods or that I haven’t been understanding the material. There’s only one difference between these recent quizzes and the others – the timer. 

The timer on Canvas is such an inconvenience to me. Rather than being helpful in letting me know how much time I have left, I now fret if I have enough time to think. Naturally, I know when to pace myself and manage how much time I should spend on the questions. It’s a skill that is built, and over the last four years, I believe I have built it well. However, there is now an external stimulus that is distracting me from my natural pace. I begin to worry and titter about the timer, rather than the questions. It has become a massive disadvantage. 

I’d rather have a teacher tell me that the class only has 15 minutes left, because at least I know where I should be and when I’m getting to the end of it. I am not constantly interrupted in my “flow state” by checking the amount of time left. With the timer, it’s a matter of how much time I’m spending on the question.

Without the timer, I tend to have scores that are upward of the 90s percentages. This also has been a pattern that I’ve noticed across my canvas grades, leading me to the conclusion that it simply is the time management of the timer. 

In addition, once the timer is up, the quiz locks itself and kicks the user out of the program. I’ve watched this happen to a classmate of mine, and while we laugh at it now, I remember her becoming very stressed out before the teacher let her change the score and finish the quiz without the timer. It was a huge hassle, at least that’s what it seemed from my perspective.

Timer anxiety is a real thing, but I must admit I was not the most sure of what it really was until my friends and teachers began discussing it. People experience heightened stress due to time limits, leading to decreased concentration, impaired decision-making and decreased overall performance. At least, that is what I can relate to. It’s important to realize that by imposing time limits, it can allow some students to thrive under pressure, while others become overwhelmed. 

Sure, the timer can be used to maintain academic integrity, which I can agree with, however, I do believe it also discourages critical thinking and problem-solving. Education should empower students to develop holistic learning strategies, not reduce their academic experience to a race against the clock.

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