The Two-Headed Hydra: Part 1

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One of the most consistent comments we hear in Student Support is how frustrating it can be to work with the computer grader. It’s like a two-headed hydra: first,with the objective material, in the front half of the course; second, in the practicum, with the dictated reports.

Hydra Head #1: Computer Comparison in the Objective Portion of the Program

The objective portion of the program comes before the midterm. The exercises, tests, and exams found here are very close to a traditional learning layout, with retyping, matching, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions. It’s pretty straightforward most of the time, but we do see some questions. Probably the most common question involves an answer that has more than one possible correct format in the key.

For example, an exercise on abbreviations asks you to provide the expansion for the abbreviation DVT. We know you can correctly expand this as deep venous thrombosis or as deep vein thrombosis. The key contains both of these options, and is set up to accept either one as correct. Again: The key will accept either deep venous thrombosis alone, OR deep vein thrombosis alone, but not both together, and not with the OR in between.

Scenario A: you answer deep venous thrombosis/deep vein thrombosis (with a slash between the words), and you’re marked wrong. Why? Your answer is correct, isn’t it? Well, yes, of course it is—in content. But it doesn’t match the key (the key does not include an option that includes a slash), so the computer (which is only a dumb machine) detects this and returns it as incorrect.

If you get at least 50% of the answers correct, the rest of the answers will be provided. In this case, the results will show that deep venous thrombosis OR deep vein thrombosis is correct. The two correct options will be shown in red, and the OR is shown in black. The reason OR is shown in black is it because it is not part of the answer; it’s only separating the correct options on the key.

Scenario B: Sometimes students see the results in the key, with all of the possible correct answers, and they copy and paste these results into the answer field—because you can’t go wrong by copying the key, right? But of course, it comes back as incorrect again. It looks like this:

Your answer: deep venous thrombosis OR deep vein thrombosis
The key: deep venous thrombosis OR deep vein thrombosis

Why? How could this possibly be incorrect? Remember: Because you’re not required to supply every possible variation of a correct answer (and when you think about it, if THAT’S what you had to do it really WOULD be unfair); you only need to provide one correct answer to be counted as correct.

All you need to do is answer with either one of the correct answers. There are two ways:

#1 DVT
Your answer: deep venous thrombosis
Key: Correct!
OR
#2 DVT
Your answer: deep vein thrombosis
Key: Correct!

And that’s all there is to that! One hydra head down, and one more to go in the next blog post.


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