Regrading broken questions

Despite all our best efforts, sometimes we put a broken question onto an exam. The recommended procedure for dealing with this situation is:

  1. If the error is detected when just a small number of students have taken the exam, either correct the question, remove it from the exam, or replace it with a new question. Either regrade the broken question with maximum points (see below) or adjust the scores of affected students by hand, perhaps with some correction factor for the added challenge they faced by encountering a broken question.

  2. If many students have taken the exam with the broken question then do not attempt to fix it but rather let the exam complete with all students experiencing the same issue. Then afterwards regrade the exam with all students being awarded maximum points for the broken question, as described below.

Regrading an assessment

The procedure to regrade an assessment is:

  1. First update the infoAssessment.json file with "forceMaxPoints": true as described below, and sync this to the live PrairieLearn server.

  2. Go to the instructor page for the assessment and click the "Regrade all assessment instances" button at the top of the "Assessment instances" box, or use the "Action" menu to regrade a single assessment instance for just one student.

The forceMaxPoints setting only affects assessment instances that are explicitly regraded. Students who take the exam later are not affected by forceMaxPoints in any way.

Regrading an assessment instance while the student is still working on it will not have any negative effects, but it may be confusing to the student if they see their points suddenly change during an exam, for example.

Setting forceMaxPoints for a question

To award some or all students maximum points for a question during a regrade, edit the [infoAssessment.json] file and set "forceMaxPoints": true for any broken questions. For example:

"zones": [
    {
        "title": "Easy questions",
        "questions": [
            {"id": "anEasyQ", "points": [10, 5, 3, 1, 0.5, 0.25], "forceMaxPoints": true},
            {"id": "aSlightlyHarderQ", "points": [10, 9, 7, 5]}
        ]
    },
    {
        "title": "Hard questions",
        "questions": [
            {"id": "hardQV1", "points": 10},
            {"id": "reallyHardQ", "points": [10, 10, 10]},
            {
                "numberChoose": 1,
                "points": 10,
                "alternatives": [
                    {"id": "FirstAltQ"},
                    {"id": "SecondAltQ", "forceMaxPoints": true}
                ]
            }
        ]
    }
],

In the example above the questions anEasyQ and SecondAltQ will award maximum points to any student who has these questions and is regraded.

Handling questions with alternatives

For questions that all students get on their assessment the above system is straightforward. For questions with alternatives it is less clear. For example, consider the case when SecondAltQ is broken in the assessment above. In the above example we only awarded maxinum points to those students who received SecondAltQ, while students with FirstAltQ did not receive automatic maximum points. However, it is probably a better idea to give maximum points to all students irrespective of which alternative they received, as follows:

            {
                "numberChoose": 1,
                "points": 10,
                "forceMaxPoints": true,
                "alternatives": [
                    {"id": "FirstAltQ"},
                    {"id": "SecondAltQ"}
                ]
            }

For fairness, it is generally it is preferred to take the approach immediately above and award maximum points to all students, no matter which alternative question appeared on their particular assessment instance.