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Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple Choice Questions

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When a student gets misses one question on a multiple answer question, they shouldn't get the whole question wrong, they should get partial credit for it, say they get 2/3 on the multiple answer question, they should get a 66.67% on the question, not a 0.




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Community Champion


Your title says multiple choice questions, but your message is about multiple answers questions. The idea to not penalize students for marking incorrect answers has appeared several times before and Canvas has marked one of the ideas as completed (but includes a penalty).

There is a good reason why Canvas does things the way they do things, but everyone has their own way they think multiple answers questions should be graded. The issue with your statement is that if you don't take off points when a student marks an incorrect answer, they could score 100% just by marking all of the answers. Others want to count a non-answer the same as the student consciously deciding to not select that response, but it could be that they didn't answer the question because they ran out of time. Those people would give points for not answering the question at all.

What several people seem to want is the ability to have a collection of responses that are treated like true-false with a single prompt. With New Quizzes, you can do this with a stimulus question. With Classic Quizzes, there is a way to work around it if you do not use one-question-at-a-time, but it looks like separate questions (because it is). 

Further explanation of why Canvas grades the way it does is contained in a document I wrote called Understanding Multiple Answers Questions.

Community Champion


I don't know if my complaint is the same as or different from KOHENWEBB's but Imagine an exam with the the following multiple answer question:

Which of these is a color?


If a student answers just Red and Yellow, I think the intuition of many or most people would be to award 2/3 credit.  This is what Classic Quizzes does.  New Quizzes by default gives 0 credit.  If the answer is blue, feathers and green, the intuition is likely to be to give 1/3 credit.  Again, this is what classic quizzes does. New Quizzes again by default gives 0.  

This is one of many ways (and far from the most egregious)  that New Quizzes has set a trap for experienced Classic Quiz users.  You can argue that the New Quizzes default is more rigorous, but I feel it's wrong because it violates expectations.  Sure, the instructor has the option to make the setting "Partial credit with penalty" but if the instructor never had to change a setting before, why should they expect to need to do that now?


Community Champion


Your complaint seems different. The other was wanting to treat a multiple answers question as a series of independent true-false questions and then score based on the percentage of "correct" (a selected correct response or an unselected incorrect response) answer. 

Regarding your issue, New Quizzes will allow you to grade the way that classic quizzes did (partial credit with penalty) or grade it as all-or-nothing. The all or nothing was necessary for testing in some areas, the most common example being health professions where they need to match all of the answers so they don't kill the patient.

There was no all-or-nothing in classic quizzes, so there was no need to change a setting. For a long time, there was no partial credit in New Quizzes, just all-or-nothing, so there was no need to change a setting there either. Now that there are two options, so people need to pick which one they want to use. Canvas has to make one of them the default or make people choose an option before they could continue -- it's simpler to have a default. Did they make the right one the default -- that could be argued. But they likely defaulted to the one that they had been using for New Quizzes for continuity.

Community Member

The matching type questions need this the most. At least as an option. It was requested back in 2018, but our Canvas overlords haven’t seen fit to give it to us.

Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Archived

@KOHENWEBB  Thanks for sharing this idea. From the description it sounds like you're using Classic (Old) Quizzes. In New Quizzes, instructors can choose how to award credit for multiple answers, as detailed in  How do I create a Multiple Answer question in New ...

Our product teams are no longer developing new functionality on the code base for Old (Classic) Quizzes, which is scheduled for deprecation, so we've archived this idea. The resources in the  New Quizzes User Group should help you get started with the new quiz tool. If you don't see the ability to enable the new quiz tool in the settings area of your course, please reach out to your local Canvas admin for guidance on its availability at your school.

Community Team
Community Team

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this now-archived thread. The product manager for New Quizzes is actively engaging with our members to get feedback and guidance as we continue to work on your priorities.  Quizzes Planned Priorities and Roadmap 2021 sets out the high-level plan for 2021, with "more support for partial credit" listed as a top priority. We hope you'll all take a moment to read through the posts in the tl;dr blog and add your comments and questions wherever appropriate.