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Community Champion

How to create question: label only certain items.

I need to create a question that contains rows of items.   The student must only put an answer under the items that fulfill a certain criteria, leaving all others blank.   I could use multiple drop-downs, but that requires the student to select EVERY item and select either a blank response (which I don't think Canvas allows) or the correct label.   It would be less confusing to have them only select the items requiring a label.

I did try using a multiple answer, but the correct answer can never be blank, which in this case there would be many.

Any ideas?

9 Replies
Community Champion

Hello  @don_bryn ​, I'm having trouble visualizing the type of question you're trying to create--so apologies for that--but I believe that you actually CAN have a totally blank answer be a valid correct answer in a multiple drop-down type of question.  I created a sample question that had two blanks as the correct answer, and Canvas scored it correctly.  Now I realize this is a rather lame example, but bear with me.  Here's what the student saw while taking it, after selecting two of the three drop-downs:

question from student view.jpg

And here is how the student saw it after getting full credit for the question:

student view after grading.jpg

Now, I admit I only tried this on ONE question, so it's possible Canvas does not like having many questions with blank answers, but you may want to try it out on a few questions and see what happens.  (BTW, if you're not an American history buff, Harrison was the first President to die while in office, so he did not go on to do anything after his presidency!)

Community Champion

Here's an example question:

Look at this list of 30 animals and mark which animals are native to Africa.

I know multiple choice won't allow a blank answer.  The only option might be multiple drop downs (called 'selects' in html), but that makes the question look much more complex to students. And canvas selects are way too wide to use many in one question, especially if you have a lot of images.

Community Contributor


I believe that matching question type will work.  I have had some success with the type of question you are describing.  I use a simple yes or no answer for each of the items in the list.  The only draw back is the student's must select a answer for each item.  I bit time consuming, but it does work.    See below for a short example.  when published the students would have to select either yes or no for each of the item in the list on the left (Fish and Shark)


So this is a great way to do this sort of question, but my problem is that I have to use images.   The real-life question is a bunch of music intervals, which I have to show by using images.  Then the students have to select which intervals are perfect and which are not.   The matching question doesn't allow using the RTE in the answer part, so as great as this solution is, it doesn't work for me.   Perhaps in the new quizzing engine we'll be able to use the RTE within answers.

 @don_bryn ​, I don't know if this will help in this case (probably not, because of the specificity of the question type you've created--but it's worth a shot): Matching quizzes with images​  I think you could use this method to create a matching question where some of the answers will be "no" as  @john_williamson ​ depicted above.

This might be the only way to create this question in Canvas, but it's not optimum because the students have to select something from a drop-down for each question.

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @don_bryn ​,

Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment.


I think the answer is that there is no answer.   There is no way to do this in Canvas at this time--at least not gracefully and more confusing to the students than a paper test would be.

Community Coach
Community Coach

The only thing I can think of is making it an essay where students copy your table information - from the essay question - and then fill in their responses. You'd have to manually grade it, but it would be in Canvas.