New Quizzes: Allow Only Numeric Values for Numeric Questions


In classic Quizzes, if a student tries to enter a non-numeric value for a numeric question, their answer is rejected and they receive the following error message saying that "only numerical values are accepted":


In New Quizzes, non-numeric values (excluding - negative numbers) were previously rejected for numeric questions. If the student tried to submit the quiz after entering non-numeric values, they received a message saying that they had unanswered questions. But as of around February 2019, New Quizzes has backtracked on this ability and now students can submit any type of value (letters, symbols, etc) in the answer field. 

This is a problem because students can answer a numeric question with the right numeric value, but if they include any extra characters or symbols, their responses will be marked incorrect.

For example, in the question below there are multiple ways in which students might correctly respond:


Possible answers could include 3.20, 0.032, 3.2%, 3.20 percent, or the fraction 8/25.

Instructors can specifically tell students to only respond in numeric values with no additional symbols for each question. But unless the response field itself rejects non-numeric values and/or gives an error message, students will inadvertently respond with extra text or symbols. While instructors have the ability to add multiple "Possible Answers" for numeric questions, they can only enter numerical values for the answer fields, not letters and symbols. 


It doesn't make sense that students can enter non-numeric values as answers while instructors cannot. This also creates an undue burden for instructors as they have to anticipate every possible way in which a student might respond to the question. 

To have feature parity with classic Quizzes, New Quizzes should only accept numeric value responses (excluding the negative sign -  and scientific notation ^) for numeric questions. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks for writing such a well-crafted idea,  @RebeccaMoulder ‌. You mention that this is a recent change to the behavior in New Quizzes. Before we open the idea for voting, could you confirm that you've already asked Canvas Support to investigate this and that they have determined this to be an intended change in functionality?


Community Contributor

Thanks, Stefanie! I reported this issue to Instructure Support on September 6, 2019 and referenced the Canvas Guides How do I create a Numeric question in New Quizzes? which says "The Range fields only accept numbers, periods, commas, asterisks, and carets." 

The support agent said that the numeric value limitation is only for instructors entering possible answers and that the documentation would be updated to clarify this. For students, they said, "it is a intended function within Canvas to allow a submission in the New Quizzes, even if the answer contains a character that is not numeric" (case # 04694249). Another support agent said "that a decision has been made that whatever a student enters we will capture as the answer for a numeric answer quizzes next test."

This is a reversal of the behavior I saw in February 2019 when I reported that fractions containing the "/" symbol were causing an error for numeric questions in New Quizzes. At that time, Instructure Support said that, "When creating an assessment, you can create a Numeric question in the Quizzes.Next. In a Numeric question, students are required to provide only a numeric response. I confirmed that the numerical answer cannot have any special characters such as slash etc so no fraction answer" (case #04040545).

One agent suggested using the Fill-in-the-Blank question type instead of numeric, but this is not a good workaround for our faculty since we have a lot of math-heavy courses that need the different response types (exact, precise, within a range, and margin of error) that numeric questions offer. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks so much for confirming that,  @RebeccaMoulder ‌, and the description of the support interaction provides useful context for prospective voters.

Community Champion

Since New Quizzes code already incorporates regular expressions, I'll suggest using one in the student test-taking form validation to find the first number in a student’s answer, reflecting back to the student the first number found in their entered answer before they submit. For example:


$3.20 credit

Only the numeric portion of your answer, 3.20, will be graded.

Community Champion

Here's a link to an idea for Rob's suggestion about using regular expressions:

Rob has already voted for it, I'm just linking the two ideas together.

Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Archived

Thank you for bringing this to the attention of The Community and the Product Team!

The Product Team reviewed all feature proposals recently, and this thread was identified as a bug. This thread has been linked to an internal ticket and will be addressed using that system instead of our formal Idea Conversations process.