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Partial Credit for Multiple Answers WITHOUT Penalty

Partial Credit for Multiple Answers WITHOUT Penalty

0 Kudos

Please offer the option to restrict students' answer selection to X number of choice selections and offer partial points for correct answers ONLY without deducting points for incorrect answers. The penalty option right now is killing my student scores! 

For example: I have a 2 point question that requires students to select 4 answers (each being worth 1/2 point). A student will select 4 answers but only 3 of them were the correct answer. They SHOULD receive the 1.5 points for the correct answer. But instead they receive only 1 point. 


If the issue is the half points- then please correct this and allow half points, or let US KNOW THAT THE SYSTEM WON'T CALCULATE HALF POINTS!

Community Member


Is this being worked on? I can not find that it is even being considered. Is there a way to up vote this idea?

I also noticed calculation might be an issue. Here is a suggested mathematical function.

Total points = [(total correct selected) - [(total incorrect selected) - (total incorrect missed)]]*(points per correct answer)

where (total incorrect selected) - (total incorrect missed) > 0

This work as the following: Questions has three right selections, and student select two correct and two wrong (total of four selected). If each right was worth 1 point, the student would be penalized for selecting too many (Total points = 2 - (2-1) = 1). But if they only select one wrong answer, there would be no penalty (total points = 2 - (1-1) = 2).

This will solve the problem of over penalizing with out allowing for selecting all answers and still getting all the points. It also gives flexibility for value of questions without forces a fixed penalty or point value per choice.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

@David_chem The product manager for New Quizzes has been actively soliciting feedback from our users, and she identified the handling of partial credit as one of the key issues. Please read through  Quizzes Planned Priorities and Roadmap 2021 and feel free to add your comments there.

Community Member

Yes - please allow multiple answer questions to have partial credit with NO penalty!  We are having to manually grade these and it is very cumbersome. Thank you for considering this needed upgrade.

Community Member

We would like to assign full points when a student selects one of a few correct answers in a Multiple Answer question in New Quizzes. Is there a way to do this?

Community Participant

I think Multiple Answer questions should just be treated as a series of true false questions. You either check the box or you don't, and you get the point or you don't. So if a question is worth 4 points with 3 correct options and you select all 4 you would get 3 points. 

Community Member

I would rather this be an optional, but not mandatory, setting.     Sometimes the student is required to answer entirely correctly, that is, no partial credit.    In classic quizzes, “entirely correct” is not an option, and I have to regrade all.  

Community Member

I agree with @cvalle. There are many teacher at our university asking for this type of functionality!

Community Member

We are about to switch from Blackboard to Canvas. In the pilot program this is one thing that is really irking me. I am spending hours of work manually grading what was automatically graded in Blackboard (partial credit i.e. for matching). Please fix.. It really should work and it's frustrating that someone from the Canvas community Team said it was working a year ago.. it's not.

Community Participant

I understand the logic behind applying a deduction for selecting incorrect options but I think it would be great if there were simply a toggle to make it grade as a series of true/false for those of us who want that. Using a stimulus is not a good solution because you cannot save to an item bank as a whole unit.

New Member

Will you please consider adding a third option for the new multiple select quizzes where you distribute all points across all possible answers so that students both receive credit for (1) choosing correct answers and (2) not choosing incorrect answers. Therefore, a multiple select question with 5 possible answers should be worth 5 possible points and each of the answers (both correct and incorrect) are weighted to be counted: points for choosing a correct answer and points for NOT choosing an incorrect answer.

Please correct the manner in which the Multiple Select questions are graded in Canvas. Currently the manner is to load the entire score value into the "Correct" answers. However, students are penalized in two ways: they are deducted points for (1) choosing incorrect answers and (2) not choosing correct answers.

Here is a better way: distribute the points across *all possible answers.* This way students receive credit for choosing correct answers and the receive credit for not choosing incorrect answers. If there are five possible answers, then distribute the credit across *all POSSIBLE answers*. If there are 5 possible answers, but only 2 correct answers, the points should be distributed across all 5 answers. The students should receive credit for choosing the 2 correct answers and credit for not choosing the 3 incorrect answers.
Otherwise you have the scenario as such: a student chooses the 2 correct answers and also chooses 2 incorrect answers. The points then cancel each other out, and the student receives not credit for that multiple select question. A more sensible way of calculating score, if the quiz-maker assigns 5 total points for 5 possible answers, and the student then chooses the 2 correct answers (+2) and choose 2 incorrect answers (-2) and does not select 1 incorrect answer (+1), then the student ends up with a total of 3 out of 5 total possible points.

Otherwise these multiple select questions are worthless and it results in students being endlessly frustrated for not receiving any points for questions for which they have selected some correct answers.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


New Member

This is a VERY basic function. Let's say I have 5-answer multiple select ("select all that are true") question and only one of the answers is true. If a student correctly does NOT select 3 of them, but then selects the remaining 2, they would get a zero, but they should actually get a 3/5.

Even D2L has the ability to weigh the answers properly when you create the question. It is completely unfair to the students and incredibly burdensome to the instructor to manually "fix" the points.

Canvas is pretty good, but for situations like this I wonder if there is anyone who has actually taught a class on the team.

Please, please, please fix this!


New Member

I am having the same issue--in a class with 300 students, so no grading each quiz individually. I am using New Quizzes. For example:

I have a multiple answer question worth 1 point with three options. 
a) is correct
b) is correct
c) is incorrect

If a student picks a and c, they get 0 points, even though a was correct because Canvas penalizes the student for missing a right answer (-333), missing a correct answer (-.333) AND for picking a wrong answer (-.333), which cancels out the right selection. 

To solve this problem, I am going to drop a low quiz score, which should more than cover the penalties. But this needs to be fixed. 

New Member

Pardon, but I am reduxing on my earlier comment because I didn't explain the problem correctly. 

When I have a multiple answer question in new quizzes worth 1 point with three answers, for example: 
a) is correct
b) is correct
c) is incorrect

And a student picks (a) and (c), they get 0 points because, as near as I can tell, they are losing 1/3 point for missing a right answer and 2/3 point for picking a wrong one. The student is being double penalized for picking an incorrect answer. 

Community Champion


Actually, Canvas awarded 0.5 points for correctly selecting (a) and took away 0.5 points for incorrectly selecting (c). Canvas didn't involve (b) in the calculation of the student grade because the student didn't select it.

New Member

Thanks, James. But that doesn't make sense either. A student SHOULD be penalized for missing a correct answer and for picking the wrong one (2/3 of a point), while getting 1/3 point for selecting a right answer. 

Community Member

I came here with the exact same question. Created a multiple answer with 3 correct concepts and three distractors. Did a trial and made one as a wrong answer expecting to be scored "2". To my surprise it was "1"! And now I see it's not possible...I don't get it.

Canvas, please allow the flexibility to have a no-penalty option as well as a penalty (which maybe is great for a large number).  Look how many are asking for this can't be that hard, can it?


Community Champion


The denominator is determined by the number of correct responses (2), not the total number of responses (3). The point value for each response is the total number of points for the question divided by the number of correct responses.

In your case, a 1 point question with 2 correct items makes each question worth 1/2=0.5 points.

To determine the score, use these definitions:

  • there be n correct responses
  • the student selects x of the correct responses
  • the student selects y of the incorrect responses

The fraction of the total points for a question is ( x - y ) / n

This value is limited so that it cannot go negative. Any negative score is replaced by 0.

Here are the six possible ways a student could answer your example question.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = (2-0)/2 = 1 or the full points
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = (2-1)/2 = 1/2
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = (1-0)/2 = 1/2
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = (1-1)/2 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = (0-0)/2 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = (0-1)/2 = -1/2, but since Canvas doesn't let the student score a negative amount, the student gets 0

Canvas does not award points for in-action, otherwise a student who doesn't answer a question still gets points.

Here's what's wrong with making each response worth 1/3 of a point.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = (2-0)/3 = 2/3 for correctly answering the question. I could stop here with what's wrong with the method since the correct response doesn't get the full points.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = (2-1)/3 = 1/3
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = (1-0)/3 = 1/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = (1-1)/3 = 0, not the 1/3 that you indicated in your message
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = (0-0)/3 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = (0-1)/3 = -1/3, but since Canvas doesn't let the student score a negative amount, the student gets 0

Let's say that you're one of the people asking for no penalty and each question is worth 1/3 of a point. Students can select all of the responses and get as many points as selecting just the correct responses.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = 2/3 for correctly answering the question. You still don't get the full points for correctly answering the question.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = 2/3 for just selecting all of the responses. If there is no penalty, then the student should always mark all answers.
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = 1/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = 1/3
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = 0/3 = 0
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = 0/3 = 0

Let's say that you are one of the people who wants 3 true-false questions and are trying to force that onto a "select all correct responses" question and so you want to give credit for selecting a correct response and for not selecting an incorrect response. In this case, the denominator truly would be 3 since each item counts towards the total. In this case, no points are deducted (which might be what people mean when they say no penalty, but that's not what it is).

In this case, you need to include the total number of questions into the formula for the points awarded, rather than the number of correct questions. Let N represent the total number of questions.

The fraction of the total points awarded will be [ x + ( N - x - y ) ] / N.

The N - x would be the number of incorrect responses and since y is the number of those selected,  then N - x - y is the number of incorrect responses not selected (so they don't earn any points).To simplify the math, I'm going to pre-compute N - x = 3 - 2 = 1 incorrect response.

  • x = 2, y = 0: points = [ 2 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 3/3 = 1 for correctly answering the question.
  • x = 2, y = 1: points = [ 2 + (1-1) ] / 3 = 2/3
  • x = 1, y = 0: points = [ 1 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 2/3
  • x = 1,  y = 1: points = [ 1 + (1-1) ] / 3 = 1/3
  • x = 0, y = 0: points = [ 0 + (1-0) ] / 3 = 1/3 and this is the problem.
  • x = 0, y = 1: points = [ 0 + (1-1) ]  / 3 = 0

This makes perfect sense when you have 3 true-false questions that a student must answer one way or the other (repeat: the student must mark something to be awarded any points). However, you do not have this. What you have is one question where a student is supposed to select all of the correct responses.

Why did I say that the student who selected 0 correct and 0 incorrect is the problem? Because they got 1/3 of the points for not answering the question. We don't know whether they didn't answer because all they thought all of the questions were incorrect (most students would not think this, they've been trained to think there must be a correct response) or because they skipped the question completely (much, much, more likely). Let's say this was question 50 on the quiz and they only answered up through question 40 because they ran out of time. You're still giving them credit for a question they might not have ever seen.

The good news is that for people who want to this last approach, they can use a stimulus question in New Quizzes and have 3 true-false questions for a single stimulus. However, the student will still have to select something (false) rather than leaving it blank to get any points. Canvas will not award points for the student not taking some action.

Since you are already using New Quizzes, this functionality is available to you. The problem I had (it was a while ago so I do not know if the problem still exists) is that you weren't able to randomly  the stimulus questions from a pool of question to mimic what you could do with Classic Quizzes.

All of that said, this thread is about something different than what you are asking about. This thread is about forcing the students to select a certain number of responses (rather than just telling them in instructions to select a certain number of responses). You are questioning the existing behavior and that is what I explained in my response.

New Member

Please update quizzes to have multiple answer questions with partial credit and NO penalty.  We are currently having to manually grade these questions and it doesn't make any sense. Please advise what timeframe is expected for this upgrade, please? Thank you in advance

New Member

I gave a new quiz yesterday, and my scores were exactly as those from the person who wrote the post. I had many questions that had two correct answers with a problem worth 1 points: My desire is if a student gets one of the two answers correct, that student will be awarded 0.5 point. According to the partial credit with penalty, the student was awarded the 0.5 point for getting one answer correct, and then he lost the 0.5 point by getting one answer wrong, netting a score of 0 on that question, and due to this happening on multiple questions, he failed the quiz. I went back and gave the student partial credit without the penalty and he passed. New Quizzes is NOT going to work for me unless I have the option to give partial credit without penalty.

Community Member

It took roughly 3 years for Canvas to offer partial credit (without penalty) for matching.

I sure hope they can use the same code to IMMEDIATELY update the Multiple Answers questions to also offer partial credit (without penalty).  As others have noted, it irritates students to loose points, so instructors have to choose between hand grading, which defeats the point of using Canvas, or avoiding Multiple Answers question.

I personally nearly always avoid Multiple Answers questions.  I would love to use them frequently, but now I only use this question style when I cannot think of another way around using them.  And I warn students in big bold letters in the question:  YOU WILL BE UNFAIRLY PENALIZED BY CANVAS FOR WRONG ANSWERS.  SORRY ABOUT THAT. 

Please add partial credit (without penalty) to Multiple Answers!