[New Quizzes] Partial Credit for Multiple Answers WITHOUT Penalty

Please offer the option to restrict students' answer selection to X number of choice selections and offer partial points for correct answers ONLY without deducting points for incorrect answers. The penalty option right now is killing my student scores! 

For example: I have a 2 point question that requires students to select 4 answers (each being worth 1/2 point). A student will select 4 answers but only 3 of them were the correct answer. They SHOULD receive the 1.5 points for the correct answer. But instead they receive only 1 point. 


If the issue is the half points- then please correct this and allow half points, or let US KNOW THAT THE SYSTEM WON'T CALCULATE HALF POINTS!

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Provide more flexible grading options Theme Status: Identified

Community Novice

This is a VERY basic function. Let's say I have 5-answer multiple select ("select all that are true") question and only one of the answers is true. If a student correctly does NOT select 3 of them, but then selects the remaining 2, they would get a zero, but they should actually get a 3/5.

Even D2L has the ability to weigh the answers properly when you create the question. It is completely unfair to the students and incredibly burdensome to the instructor to manually "fix" the points.

Canvas is pretty good, but for situations like this I wonder if there is anyone who has actually taught a class on the team.

Please, please, please fix this!


Community Member

I am having the same issue--in a class with 300 students, so no grading each quiz individually. I am using New Quizzes. For example:

I have a multiple answer question worth 1 point with three options. 
a) is correct
b) is correct
c) is incorrect

If a student picks a and c, they get 0 points, even though a was correct because Canvas penalizes the student for missing a right answer (-333), missing a correct answer (-.333) AND for picking a wrong answer (-.333), which cancels out the right selection. 

To solve this problem, I am going to drop a low quiz score, which should more than cover the penalties. But this needs to be fixed. 

Community Member

Pardon, but I am reduxing on my earlier comment because I didn't explain the problem correctly. 

When I have a multiple answer question in new quizzes worth 1 point with three answers, for example: 
a) is correct
b) is correct
c) is incorrect

And a student picks (a) and (c), they get 0 points because, as near as I can tell, they are losing 1/3 point for missing a right answer and 2/3 point for picking a wrong one. The student is being double penalized for picking an incorrect answer. 

Community Champion


Actually, Canvas awarded 0.5 points for correctly selecting (a) and took away 0.5 points for incorrectly selecting (c). Canvas didn't involve (b) in the calculation of the student grade because the student didn't select it.

Community Member

Thanks, James. But that doesn't make sense either. A student SHOULD be penalized for missing a correct answer and for picking the wrong one (2/3 of a point), while getting 1/3 point for selecting a right answer. 

Community Explorer

I came here with the exact same question. Created a multiple answer with 3 correct concepts and three distractors. Did a trial and made one as a wrong answer expecting to be scored "2". To my surprise it was "1"! And now I see it's not possible...I don't get it.

Canvas, please allow the flexibility to have a no-penalty option as well as a penalty (which maybe is great for a large number).  Look how many are asking for this already...it can't be that hard, can it?


Community Champion


The denominator is determined by the number of correct responses (2), not the total number of responses (3). The point value for each response is the total number of points for the question divided by the number of correct responses.

In your case, a 1 point question with 2 correct items makes each question worth 1/2=0.5 points.

To determine the score, use these definitions:

  • there be n correct responses
  • the student selects x of the correct responses
  • the student selects y of the incorrect responses

The fraction of the total points for a question is ( x - y ) / n

This value is limited so that it cannot go negative. Any negative score is replaced by 0.

Here are the six possible ways a student could answer your example question.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = (2-0)/2 = 1 or the full points
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = (2-1)/2 = 1/2
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = (1-0)/2 = 1/2
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = (1-1)/2 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = (0-0)/2 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = (0-1)/2 = -1/2, but since Canvas doesn't let the student score a negative amount, the student gets 0

Canvas does not award points for in-action, otherwise a student who doesn't answer a question still gets points.

Here's what's wrong with making each response worth 1/3 of a point.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = (2-0)/3 = 2/3 for correctly answering the question. I could stop here with what's wrong with the method since the correct response doesn't get the full points.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = (2-1)/3 = 1/3
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = (1-0)/3 = 1/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = (1-1)/3 = 0, not the 1/3 that you indicated in your message
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = (0-0)/3 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = (0-1)/3 = -1/3, but since Canvas doesn't let the student score a negative amount, the student gets 0

Let's say that you're one of the people asking for no penalty and each question is worth 1/3 of a point. Students can select all of the responses and get as many points as selecting just the correct responses.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = 2/3 for correctly answering the question. You still don't get the full points for correctly answering the question.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = 2/3 for just selecting all of the responses. If there is no penalty, then the student should always mark all answers.
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = 1/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = 1/3
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = 0/3 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = 0/3 = 0

Let's say that you are one of the people who wants 3 true-false questions and are trying to force that onto a "select all correct responses" question and so you want to give credit for selecting a correct response and for not selecting an incorrect response. In this case, the denominator truly would be 3 since each item counts towards the total. In this case, no points are deducted (which might be what people mean when they say no penalty, but that's not what it is).

In this case, you need to include the total number of questions into the formula for the points awarded, rather than the number of correct questions. Let N represent the total number of questions.

The fraction of the total points awarded will be [ x + ( N - x - y ) ] / N.

The N - x would be the number of incorrect responses and since y is the number of those selected,  then N - x - y is the number of incorrect responses not selected (so they don't earn any points).To simplify the math, I'm going to pre-compute N - x = 3 - 2 = 1 incorrect response.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = [ 2 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 3/3 = 1 for correctly answering the question.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = [ 2 + (1-1) ] / 3 = 2/3
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = [ 1 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 2/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = [ 1 + (1-1) ] / 3 = 1/3
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = [ 0 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 1/3 and this is the problem.
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = [ 0 + (1-1) ]  / 3 = 0

This makes perfect sense when you have 3 true-false questions that a student must answer one way or the other (repeat: the student must mark something to be awarded any points). However, you do not have this. What you have is one question where a student is supposed to select all of the correct responses.

Why did I say that the student who selected 0 correct and 0 incorrect is the problem? Because they got 1/3 of the points for not answering the question. We don't know whether they didn't answer because all they thought all of the questions were incorrect (most students would not think this, they've been trained to think there must be a correct response) or because they skipped the question completely (much, much, more likely). Let's say this was question 50 on the quiz and they only answered up through question 40 because they ran out of time. You're still giving them credit for a question they might not have ever seen.

The good news is that for people who want to this last approach, they can use a stimulus question in New Quizzes and have 3 true-false questions for a single stimulus. However, the student will still have to select something (false) rather than leaving it blank to get any points. Canvas will not award points for the student not taking some action.

Since you are already using New Quizzes, this functionality is available to you. The problem I had (it was a while ago so I do not know if the problem still exists) is that you weren't able to randomly  the stimulus questions from a pool of question to mimic what you could do with Classic Quizzes.

All of that said, this thread is about something different than what you are asking about. This thread is about forcing the students to select a certain number of responses (rather than just telling them in instructions to select a certain number of responses). You are questioning the existing behavior and that is what I explained in my response.

Community Member

Please update quizzes to have multiple answer questions with partial credit and NO penalty.  We are currently having to manually grade these questions and it doesn't make any sense. Please advise what timeframe is expected for this upgrade, please? Thank you in advance

Community Member

I gave a new quiz yesterday, and my scores were exactly as those from the person who wrote the post. I had many questions that had two correct answers with a problem worth 1 points: My desire is if a student gets one of the two answers correct, that student will be awarded 0.5 point. According to the partial credit with penalty, the student was awarded the 0.5 point for getting one answer correct, and then he lost the 0.5 point by getting one answer wrong, netting a score of 0 on that question, and due to this happening on multiple questions, he failed the quiz. I went back and gave the student partial credit without the penalty and he passed. New Quizzes is NOT going to work for me unless I have the option to give partial credit without penalty.

Community Explorer

It took roughly 3 years for Canvas to offer partial credit (without penalty) for matching.

I sure hope they can use the same code to IMMEDIATELY update the Multiple Answers questions to also offer partial credit (without penalty).  As others have noted, it irritates students to loose points, so instructors have to choose between hand grading, which defeats the point of using Canvas, or avoiding Multiple Answers question.

I personally nearly always avoid Multiple Answers questions.  I would love to use them frequently, but now I only use this question style when I cannot think of another way around using them.  And I warn students in big bold letters in the question:  YOU WILL BE UNFAIRLY PENALIZED BY CANVAS FOR WRONG ANSWERS.  SORRY ABOUT THAT. 

Please add partial credit (without penalty) to Multiple Answers!