Randy Watkins

Add Regular Expressions to Quizzes

Discussion created by Randy Watkins on Aug 12, 2016
Latest reply on Aug 31, 2016 by Anna Stirling


This replaces the previous discussion on regular expressions as that Instructure Idea was declined. This is a new request to Instructure that needs 100 votes by October 5th to be added to Canvas.

Click here to see the actual idea on Canvas: Add Regular Expressions to Quizzes

Describe your idea

I would like to see regular expressions (wildcards, pattern matching), which have been in every major programming language since the 1950's and every LMS until Canvas.

Here is a good example:

    Who was the major African-American civil rights leader of the 1960's assassinated in 1968?

The official answer is "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.", but what if they forget to put "Dr.", abbreviate Luther as "L.", or forget "Jr.". Is it wrong? How many permutations of the right answer could there be? Is punctuation included?

Using regex, the answer would be /.*Martin.*L.*King.*/i, meaning anything before Martin, must contain an L
between Martin and King, can contain anything after King, and "i" means case insensitive. If you use "g" with the "i", you
can apply multiple phrases across an entire document so you can check papers for content automatically.

Please add this to quizzes. Most programming languages (including JavaScript) accept this as a phrase or function.


How will this idea benefit CCC users?

Currently in quizzes: For fill-in-the-blank or short-answer questions, you have to come up with every possible phrase combinations to match what students might type that would be correct.

With regular expressions, you can use "wildcards" allowing phrases to appear anywhere in the answer, allow alternate spellings and capitalization, and even breaks in the phrase.

You can even use this across papers to search for phrases or ideas to automatically grade them.