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Community Participant

Contractions in Quizzes

Is anyone else having trouble with self-correcting quizzes that count some students' answers that contain a contraction wrong? This is in my Advanced ESL class, and at first I thought that some of the students were leaving an extra space when they typed "hadn't" (hadn 't) or "wouldn't" (wouldn'  t), for example. However, after cautioning them and demonstrating in Zoom meetings how to type the contractions correctly without spaces, I still have two or three of my best students who have their contractions counted as incorrect, while the rest have no problem. I have a suspicion that it has to do with their keyboards or that perhaps they are using their phones to do the schoolwork, but they swear to me that they are leaving no spaces, and I believe them. I've tried taking the quizzes and leaving an extra space in the contractions, and I get counted wrong, too; but the crazy thing is that in the corrected quiz, Canvas makes no distinction between the "wrong" answer and the "correct" answer. It just says:

"You answered > wasn't"

"Correct answer> wasn't."

No space in either of them. This has been a real frustration for me and the few students who experience this weekly. I've even tried to get around contractions as answers because of it. Anyone have any ideas?

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @bratsj58 ...

I'm not sure if this is at all related to your issue, but I copied the text you provided into my Notepad program on my computer, and I noticed a period on the second line.  Might this be why the answer is being counted wrong?  I could see where the tail of the "t" and the period are very close to each other, so this might be why it was counted as incorrect.


Hope this may help a bit.  Let Community members know if you have any other questions about this...thanks!  Take care, stay safe, and be well.

Community Participant

Thanks. No, I don't think a period has ever been the problem. They're only supposed to write one word. Here's an example:

Contraction example.JPG

Hello again, @bratsj58 ...

Thank you for sharing the screen shot.  I see the issue now.  If you take a look at the text in the "You Answered" boxes, you'll notice that the apostrophe is curly compared to the ones labeled as the "Correct Answer".  I had to zoom in quite a bit to see this, but there is a distinct difference.  Since the curly apostrophe is technically a different character compared to the straight up and down apostrophe, Canvas will mark the answer as incorrect.

I hope this will help a bit.

Community Participant

Thank you! That does look as though that's the problem! But now, what to do about it? Apparently, that curly apostrophe is the one that these few students have on their keyboards. Shouldn't there be some kind of allowance in Canvas for such a difference?

@bratsj58 ...

Well, I suppose you could edit the question details to add an additional "correct" answer with the curly apostrophe.  That might not necessarily fix the issue for those students who have already taken your quiz (you'd have to manually go in and give them credit for that question), but it would at least fix it for the future.

As to your question about some kind of allowance for a slight difference like this...that's something you're going to have to address with Canvas technical support folks.  You could possibly submit it as a bug (though I don't know that it's really a bug), but you might want to also consider submitting it as a Feature Idea here in the Community.  To do that, from any screen here in the Community, click on the menu PRODUCT >> IDEA CONVERSATIONS, and then click on the red "Suggest an idea" button.

Hope this helps a bit.

Community Participant

Thank you. I would happily add a curly apostrophe to the possible answers if I had one. Would I need to copy and paste? I think the few students who do this may be using cellphones to do their work, but I'm not sure. 

But I will do as you say and submit it as a Feature Idea. Honestly, for ESL teachers, though, I think it's a bug, so I may do that, too.

Thanks again.

@bratsj58 ...

Yes, you may need to copy and paste a response that you see on your screen (with the curly apostrophe) as another "correct" answer within your question.  That's probably going to be the quickest way to do that.  Good luck!

Community Participant

Thank you, @chofer! I got this answer when I posted in Feature Ideas. My school needs to get New Quizzes, pronto!

"Thanks for sharing this idea. The screenshot shows that this is an issue in Classic (Old) Quizzes. This has been addressed in the design of New Quizzes, where quiz creators can account for this by using the more granular options described in How do I create a Fill in the Blank question in Ne... - Canvas Community . Rather than selecting Exact Match (which is the default in Classic Quizzes), the quiz creator can use Close Enough and set the appropriate Levenshtein distance for the response.

Our product teams are no longer developing new functionality on the code base for Old (Classic) Quizzes, which is scheduled to be deprecated next year, so we've archived this idea.

That said, even though this won't move forward as an idea, I hope you'll bring it to the attention of Canvas Support if you haven't already submitted a case for it. I fully agree that students shouldn't be penalized for entering a correct answer that is marked incorrect wholly due to the differences between how different devices and keyboards render an apostrophe's style.​"