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blangston
New Member

How can one answer be right and the other wrong based on the length of a dash?

I am trying to understand why the questions were counted wrong on this fill in the blank question. The answers are exactly the same. My technology department says Canvas pointed out the answer the student gave had a long dash and the correct answer had a short dash. The problem I am having with this, is how can a student make a long or short dash on their Chrome Book if there is only one key? Has anyone else seen this problem before?Error on fill in the blank

311744_CG.PNG

16 Replies
James
Community Champion

blangston,

How did you get a long dash in your answers? If you look at the correct answers, the dashes on your first correct answer are longer than the dashes on the second correct answer. How did you get a long dash in your question?

You may want to check all the students who entered (x-2)(5x-3) because they're going to miss the question as you have (x−2)(5x−3) as a correct answer.

Your dash in the question itself looks more like a minus − that a negation. Perhaps the student copy/pasted the code that you had? I can very much envision a student thinking "my minus doesn't look like the teacher's minus" and copy/pasting it to make sure that it was the same.

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blangston
New Member

I have never had this issue before and I am not sure how these dashes are longer than the others. I copied and pasted one answer to the other (both versions. Students only have one dash key on their key board. As you can see one student got a short one and one got a long one. They can't see any answers so there is no way for them to copy. If Canvas is going to be this sensitive then maybe this program is not worth the trouble. Here is my minus key - and here is my dash key -. They are exactly the same at least to the naked eye and when I zoomed in to 250%. That is what I used to type in my answers and how it looks different I have no idea. 

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Here is a picture taken from my version of the test when I am entering answers. Two small dashes. 

311745_Capture.PNG

How does it become a long dash in speed grader.

311754_Capture2.PNG

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James
Community Champion

Canvas is not being this sensitive, they are different characters. To the computer, it's like saying the correct answer is "Pat" and then complaining because someone put in "Rat" and it counted it wrong.

A normal dash entered from the keyboard is -.

However, when you enter a normal dash, it does not look right as a subtraction symbol. It's too short. There is a minus html entity that is can be entered by going into the HTML editor and entering & followed by minus; (if I type it together, then the Community software converts it). It looks like −

When you look at it during a quiz, they are clearly different. The first one is a dash from the keyboard, the second one is a minus html entity.

311762_pastedImage_1.png

Another way (besides going into the HTML editor) to get the minus operator, as opposed to the dash, would be to copy/paste the content from some other program that automatically generated the subtraction symbol so that it looked good. A person who didn't understand the difference probably wouldn't think twice about it.


If you had an instructional designer who created these questions for you, they may have used the minus instead of the dash.

You can double check how it is in your question by editing the quiz question and switching to the HTML editor and looking for the code.

When the question is displayed to the student, the minus operator gets converted automatically to its Unicode counterpart and if a student copy/pasted it, it would come through as a minus rather than a dash in their answer. A normal dash doesn't get converted to a longer dash (minus symbol).

The student isn't copying from the answers. They're copying from your question, which has a minus sign in it rather than a dash. You (whoever created the question) gave them the way to enter the value without having to type it from the keyboard.

Here's a quick video I made showing how this can easily happen.

As far as why the questions look right in the answer section, one possibility is that someone retyped them after the problem happened. Once a student has taken a quiz, changing the questions doesn't change what is displayed for them. If these really are the same question (and not just in there twice) then someone could have edited the question between the times that the students took them. That is, one student took the question that had the minus symbol and the other student got the version with the dash.

If you enter the minus in the response then it clearly shows up differently in both the quiz question editor

311763_pastedImage_2.png

and in the Show question details

311764_pastedImage_3.png

and in the quiz results shown when the student misses the question.

311768_pastedImage_4.png

blangston
New Member

So explain how the answers I put in the editor:311757_Capture.PNG

Becomes a different dash in speed grader:311758_Capture2.PNG

Both of mine are entered as small dashes but in speed grader one answer has long dashes the other short. In the 5 years I have been using Canvas, I have never had the issue before. I do not believe the error is on my side when you can clearly see it is different dashes then what I put in. 

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James
Community Champion

I already explained how you can have the answers put in right but have it be wrong to the students. The screen shots you're showing are the way things are now, but not necessarily the way things were when the quiz was delivered to the students. Canvas does not go back and change the responses or the questions after a quiz has been delivered, so if it was delivered with the wrong symbol, it will stay that way, even if you go through and correct it in the quiz question editor. Only questions delivered after that change happened will be adjusted.

I obviously wasn't there, but if a student complained about "Hey, I put in (x-2)(5x-3) and it didn't take it", then perhaps someone went in and fixed the responses. It would not get fixed for any student who had already been delivered a copy of quiz, even if they haven't completed it. As soon as the quiz is delivered to the student, it's fixed and doesn't change, no matter what edits to the questions are made. It would be really bad for a student to start taking a quiz and have the questions change on them in the middle of the quiz.

If it were known that this happened, then it would be the explanation. If no one remembers changed the answers, then it could be verified (or refuted) by looking at the versions on the quizzes that were delivered. That requires API calls to get at that information, so you may need to involve technical support to check this.

SpeedGrader does not modify the content of the quiz. You may be viewing the quiz results in SpeedGrader, but it's the same thing you would get if you went to the quiz and chose the Moderate this Quiz. All SpeedGrader does with the quiz is to load the quiz results in an iframe.

Even if both of your answers contain the dashes that you type, that doesn't change that a student might copy/paste the minus sign from your question and paste it in. You're not allowing for that response and so it would still be counted wrong, even though they used the same symbol that you used in your question.

cholling
Community Champion

I haven't tested yet in Canvas, but in other general apps, typing two dashes (to try to make it look longer) will convert to an en dash. It's also possible that students understand they can use ALT and the numeric keypad to create en and em dashes - which is how I do it all the time. As a long-time HTML coder and instructional designer, I create en and em dashes all the time and wouldn't even think about it. So it all depends on the perspective one is coming from. 

I think if this were my course, I'd include the "other signs" as possible right responses so that the students wouldn't be penalized for using a different length dash -- even though from a symbol viewpoint they are definitely different.

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Well I am not sure how that would be possible for students to do that or why they would want to. Thank you for the clear and brief explanation. Another thought from a colleague was that maybe students were solving the problem on a website and pasting the answer into the box. So a suggestion would be that Canvas not allow pasting into boxes on quizzes. 

We have to constantly tell students no spaces in your answer because Canvas is so sensitive. And as teachers sometimes we have to put in numerous answers to make sure we cover all that a student could possibly enter. 

My technology department is looking into it further. A dash is a dash and Canvas should not be that sensitive. As a teacher I should not have to spend extra time "allowing other signs" when there are so many other programs out there that are more forgiving. 

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nr2522
Community Champion

Hello, blangston‌.

"A dash is a dash" I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on this. Perhaps for your purposes or based on our perception as mere humans, this seems true on the surface, but to a computer, there are hyphens, minus signs, and all sorts of different dashes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash). There are several fields (science and math, at least) where these seemingly similar characters are not interchangeable.

Regarding disallowing copying into a quiz, you may want to look into Respondus Lockdown Browser (https://www.respondus.com/products/lockdown-browser/).

Best regards,

Nelson

I have to disagree because in the 5 years I have used this program and the numerous assignments I have given, this has NEVER been an issue. My students only have one key on their Chromebook to answer these questions.  I believe there is something wrong with Canvas on this assignment. But I am being told it is my fault or the students fault because no one wants to believe there could be a problem with their product.

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As far as copying into a quiz, since Canvas doesn't have any other feature for Math teachers to use to give assignments we use the quiz to give assignments, so lockdown browser (which we use) doesn't need to be used for these assignments. 

Other programs, such as DuckSoup.us or Epub textbooks for math have math editor available for students to enter their answers. However using these programs are not always possible, i.e. cost or subject matter covered. 

It has long been a requested feature that Canvas allow math editor to be used on the teacher side for fill in the blank and for the student side. Not sure why this is taken so long to happen. 

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James
Community Champion

cholling 

I checked the em dash (alt+0151) — and it was much longer than the minus, − , which is why I've been focusing on the minus. The double dash is an autocorrect feature of popular processors and generates an en dash (alt+0150) – 

The en dash appears the almost identical to a minus, but they are different as far as the computer goes, so if you had the minus but the student did the alt+0150, it would be counted wrong.

Canvas does not convert a double dash to an en dash.

Here is a comparison of how they look in Canvas.

311833_pastedImage_2.png

James
Community Champion

I wouldn't use fill in the blank to assess math questions at all, and it's mostly because of issues like this. I have written about this many times before in the community, now is not the place.

I definitely wouldn't allow for other uses of dashes, there are too many. That might allow encourage copy/pasting from another site. Bobbie might be right that they did that, and it is certainly a very plausible explanation, probably even more likely than the one I came up with, and preventing pasting would help that. Given that the question had a minus sign in it, it cannot be ruled out that the student didn't like the way theirs looked and copy/pasted the answer. The person who created the question needs to figure out what's going on. Maybe they copy/pasted the answer from a program that expanded the product?

If I'm going to be mathematically correct and use a minus sign instead of a dash, then I would be sure to tell my students to only use the keyboard and not copy/paste any values or they may get it wrong.

You can disable copy/pasting at a JavaScript level without using lock down browser. Google javascript disable paste in textbox for more information. That's something the Canvas Admin would have to add. One issue is that there's no good way to easily and selectively enable that for only some questions.

James
Community Champion

jbrady2
Community Champion

blangston‌ Since no one appears to have answered your question taking into account that your student is working on a Chromebook, I decided to test this on my own Chromebook. I found that the em dash (alt+0151) — and the en dash (alt+0150) – do not work on Chromebooks. The convert a double dash to an en dash also does not work on a Chromebook.

Instead, one has to use Unicode characters, which I found to be an interesting process. Apparently, you have to hold CTRL+SHIFT+U, let go and there will be a "u" with a line through it, follow this "u" with a four digit number, and then hit Enter to produce the desired symbol. I found a list of Unicode characters here: https://unicode-table.com/en/, but the list is so long, that I could not see taking the time to find the code for the em dash or en dash, so I could not imagine a student doing this.

This does not mean that the student might not have created it online using a site that would not require the Unicode shortcuts and then copy/paste it into Canvas, but it would have been difficult to create on a Chromebook using something such as Google Docs.

James
Community Champion

Thanks for checking that on a Chromebook.

I don't think anyone was seriously suggesting that the student went to the trouble of using Unicode to create them. The original poster wasn't happy with the answers that were given about copy/pasting and so people started looking for other alternatives to creating them.