Fill-In-The-Blank Quizzes on Canvas

Teachers of English might find this amusing. I have been experimenting with using automated quizzes on Canvas. One form of quiz I have tried is “fill-in-the-blank.” For this type, you have to anticipate what correct answers will be provided by the students. If they type it in correctly, they will receive credit, but any slight deviation will be counted wrong.

So far, every single student who has taken my quiz has required a scoring adjustment because of weird capitalizations and punctuations or because they didn’t make the subject agree with the provided verb. (Why do you need to add “s” to everything???)

I’m doing the automated quizzes to save on grading work, but on this one, it so far has saved me nothing. But I’m remembering from my college days Dr. Les Hemphill, my psych teacher, set up a computerized testing system that was hard as hell, but he allowed you to re-take it as many times as you wanted to if you wanted a perfect score. Sneaky! We were reviewing the material over and over, doing it this way.

I could ditch the format altogether – probably the preferred path, or I could just have the quiz be very strict about what answers are acceptable and let them do re-takes. I have already adjusted the instructions to note that correct answers must be single-word answers that must agree with the verb used in the prompt sentence and that extraneous capitalization or punctuation will cause the answer to be marked incorrect. I also now allow unlimited re-takes of the quiz. It is already an open-notes quiz with no restrictions on group efforts.

Hmm. This could be frustrating for a student to encounter, to be sure. It feels like an automated version of Neil Postman’s “Guess what the teacher is thinking” game. But it is an extremely low-stakes quiz meant for reviewing material discussed in class. I don’t mean for it to be punitive. Keeping this format could serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that good grammar is something worth considering.

I’m still thinking about the nuances of this.

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