Jonathan Bratt

Automatically-Graded Conceptual Questions

Blog Post created by Jonathan Bratt on Jun 14, 2016

Homework questions in conceptual physics textbooks are generally open-ended, requiring students to explain physical phenomena or concepts in their own words. Unfortunately, technology is not yet at the point where essays can be reliably evaluated by a computer. Instructors are therefore faced with the task of hand-grading dozens or hundreds of individual responses.


To address this problem, our physics team has created conceptual-level questions that test and enhance students’ understanding of physics while providing automatic grading and feedback.


For example, item 77772 deals with the polarization of light. To answer this question, students must visually identify the polarization state of light as it passes in turn through three filters. Each incorrect response triggers appropriate feedback (see image 1 below).


In item 62651 (image 2 below), students must complete the ray diagram for a converging lens. The vector drawing module gives students the ability to draw arrows anywhere on the diagram, while providing specific feedback when they are wrong.


These are just two examples of the many conceptual questions available in the physics library. Our goal in writing these is to engage students in a relatively open-ended context without requiring instructors to spend valuable time on grading. As always, we welcome your ideas, feedback, and comments.


Image 1:


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Image 2:


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