cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
tdelillo
Community Champion

Fonts in essay questions

Jump to solution

I'm working with an instructor who is trying to investigate cheating in his course. He noticed that a student had answers to quiz essay questions that appeared in a different font, so he assumed the student was copying and pasting answers from the web or a document. What is odd is that neither he or I can replicate the behavior - every time we copy and paste text into an essay question, the font is converted to the default font. And the RCE does not have a button to change font, just to change size, color, etc.

Has anyone seen unusual fonts appearing in essay question answers, and know how the student could have done it?

16 Replies
tdelillo
Community Champion

It was not a file upload, though, it was an answer to an essay question in the quiz. Although I suppose it's possible that she was using Firefox on a Mac or mobile device, and the copy/paste behavior is different in those environments...

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

 @tdelillo , this question has been driving me crazy since you posted it, and I'm looking forward to hearing the results of Support's investigation. I've never experienced exactly what you've described, since I don't give any quizzes that have essay question responses. However, I have frequently seen discussion posts come across in different fonts--maybe as high a percentage as 20%, in fact. I've never found it troublesome, inasmuch as my courses are writing intensive and I evaluate discussion posts for correct composition, spelling, and grammar, and so I encourage my students to compose their responses in a different program that affords them the full array of spell- and grammar-checking tools, and then copy and paste the response into the Canvas reply box. So I've rarely had to investigate the different font issue, but I note that it does happen, so your student's situation might well prove to be benign (i.e., the response wasn't copy-pasted from the internet, but rather from a document composed in an external program, and the pause in her quiz log simply reflects that).

With that in mind, one recurring instance that comes to mind is with respect to students who use OpenOffice to compose their work. For some reason, posts that were copied and pasted from OpenOffice displayed in the discussion with boxes around every word--in fact, they looked kind of like a poison pen letter, where each word is clipped out of a newspaper--and SpeedGrader didn't even recognize the posts as text. When I asked how the student produced this interesting artifact, the answer was invariably "I used OpenOffice." This was a while back, since Google Docs are now universally available and students don't feel compelled to use OpenOffice any more.

Just throwing that into the mix. I hope to see a quick resolution to your mystery!

tdelillo
Community Champion

So, the official answer from my support ticket:

"The student was able to have their font stick because the HTML style tag was included in their reply. If you notice in their answer it says <span style="font-family: Palatino Linotype;"> which tells the browser to display it as a different font face. Yours may not be sticking becuase it's not a supported font or the style tag isn't being included when you paste your text."

I had tried to paste Palatino font and couldn't get it to stick, so I'm not 100% satisfied, however, they also pointed out that drilling down into the quiz logging actually gives you some good detail for essay questions that I hadn't noticed before. It shows HTML code, so if the text was pasted you see tags (span, font-family, etc.) beyond the <p> tag expected for manually typed answers. Nifty.

View solution in original post

 @tdelillo ​, I do love a good mystery! I am not quite understanding the response from Support, however; are they implying that the student switched views to the HTML Editor, and copy-pasted from a source that provided the HTML code for the response--or else, how would the HTML style tag get copied over? As your testing has shown, fonts are getting stripped out for you, but as I mentioned earlier, they don't always get stripped out--and I'm reasonably certain that my students were not copying HTML code, nor were they switching views. So the mystery continues. :smileyconfused:

I wonder if it would be helpful to know not only which browser (we know it's Firefox) but also what kind of device the student used to take the quiz.

tdelillo
Community Champion

They seem to be saying that, depending on where the text was copied from, it could retain the background font code without the student switching to code view. I've tried it a couple more times, and still can't replicate it.

Regarding device, the student supposedly took the exams in question in the testing center on campus. So we know they were on a PC.

japarodi
Community Participant

Also, Mozilla Firefox copies more of the background HTML formatting than Chrome, so if the student copied it from Firefox, it could have happened by directly pasting it into the rich text editor. In your tests, did you use Chrome?

tdelillo
Community Champion

I tried it across browsers and couldn't replicate it in any of them. But it was a good thought Smiley Happy