Manual Grading

PrairieLearn supports manual grading of questions by downloading a CSV file with student answers and uploading a CSV file with question scores and optional per-question feedback. There is not currently an online web interface for manual grading.

Configuring a question for manual grading

The info.json file in the question should set "gradingMethod": "Manual", like this:

    "uuid": "cbf5cbf2-6458-4f13-a418-aa4d2b1093ff",
    "gradingMethod": "Manual",
    "singleVariant": true,

Manually-graded questions allow students to "Save" answers, but they don't have a "Save & Grade" button. Instead, the student just saves answers as many times as they want, and all of their submitted answers are stored. It is recommended to also mark manually-graded questions as "singleVariant": true so that students are only given a single random variant, even on Homework assessments.

Any elements can be used in the question.html to write manually graded questions. All of the student input will be saved and available for manual grading, including pl-string-input, pl-file-editor, pl-file-upload, etc.

Downloading the students' submitted answers

After students have completed the assessment, download the submitted answers by going to the assessment page, then the "Downloads" tab, and selecting the <assessment>_submissions_for_manual_grading.csv file. This looks like:

uid,uin,username,name,role,qid,old_score_perc,old_feedback,submission_id,params,true_answer,submitted_answer,old_partial_scores,partial_scores,score_perc,feedback,1,,,,explainMax,0,,42983,{},{},{"ans": "returns the maximum value in the array"},,,,,2,,,,explainMax,0,,42984,{},{},{"ans": "gives the set of largest values in the object"},,,,,2,,,,describeFibonacci,100,,42987,{},{},{"ans": "calculates the n-th Fibonacci number"},,,,

This CSV file has three blank columns at the end, ready for the percentage score (0 to 100) and optional feedback and partial scores. The submission_id is an internal identifier that PrairieLearn uses to determine exactly which submitted answer is being graded. The params and true_answer columns show the question data. The old_score_perc column shows the score that the student currently has, which is convenient for re-grading or doing optional manual grading after an autograder has already done a first pass. If feedback was already provided in a previous upload, the old_feedback column will contain the feedback the student currently has.

If the students uploaded files then you should also download <assessment> from the "Downloads" tab. The scores and feedback should still be entered into the CSV file.


To include files copied out of the workspace into the <assessment>, in the info.json file specify a file list using "gradedFiles"

"workspaceOptions": {
        "gradedFiles": [

Uploading the scores and feedback

After editing the percentage score and/or feedback for each submitted answer, upload the CSV file by going to the assessment page, then the "Uploads" tab, and selecting "Upload new question scores". If you leave either score_perc or feedback (or both) blank for any student, then the corresponding entry will not be updated.

Each question will have its score and/or feedback updated and the total assessment score will be recalculated. All updates are done with credit of 100%, so students get exactly the scores as uploaded.

If you prefer to use points rather than a percentage score, rename the score_perc column in the CSV file to points.

If a feedback column is provided, it will be shown by default to the student above the submission panel, as seen in the image below. The feedback can utilize Markdown formatting.

Feedback shown above student panel

You also have the option to set partial scores. These can be based on individual elements of the question (typically based on the answers-name attribute of the element), or any other setting you wish to use. Partial scores must be represented using a JSON object, with keys corresponding to individual elements. Each element key should be mapped to an object, and should ideally contain values for score (with a value between 0 and 1) and weight (which defaults to 1 if not present). For example, to assign grades to a question with elements answer1 and answer2, use:

  "answer1": { "score": 0.7, "weight": 2, "feedback": "Almost there!" },
  "answer2": { "score": 1, "weight": 1, "feedback": "Great job!" }

If the partial_scores column contains a valid value, and there is no value in score_perc or points, the score will be computed based on the weighted average of the partial scores. For example, the score above will be computed as 80% (the weighted average between 70% with weight 2, and 100% with weight 1).

WARNING: note that some elements such as drawings or matrix elements may rely on elaborate partial score values with specific structures and objects. When updating partial scores, make sure you follow the same structure as the original partial scores to avoid any problems. Changing these values could lead to errors on rendering the question pages for these elements.