Table of Contents

Online Assignments (Beta)

Updated

Currently in beta, online assignments let you create questions directly on Gradescope. Students will be able to log in and submit responses within the Gradescope interface. For some types of questions (multiple-choice, select all, and short answer), you can also indicate the correct answer ahead of time, and student submissions will be automatically graded. However, though you can autograde certain fields, AI-assisted grading and answer-grouping are not possible in Online Assignments at this time.

Post-beta availability: Online assignments are available to all Gradescope users and instructors while in beta. Once the feature is out of beta, online assignments will be available with institutional site licenses and for individual courses subscribed to Gradescope Complete

Setting up an Online Assignment

  1. On your course’s homepage, click Assignments (left sidebar) and then Create Assignment (bottom right). Select “Online Assignment” from the list of assignment types when it appears. 
  2. Add an assignment title, set a release date, due date, and (Optional) late due date. If you’re making a test assignment that students should not see, make sure to set the Release Date far in the future, or use a demo course that has no real students in it.
  3. (Optional) To give students a set number of minutes to submit work, select Enforce Time Limit. Then, use the Maximum Time Permitted field to set your time limit. See more info on this feature below.
    Enabling LockDown Browser: If you're enforcing a time limit, you will also be able to enable additional assessment security tools (such as LockDown Browser Powered by Respondus) from your Settings page once you create the assignment. See the section below on Additional security with LockDown Browser for more info.
  4. (Optional) To allow groups of students to submit the assignment together, select the Enable Group Submission, and set your preferred group size.
  5. Click Create Assignment. This will take you to the Assignment Outline where you add your questions.
 

Adding your questions

  1. On the left side of your Assignment Outline, enter your first question title (optional) and point value. You can preview your exam on the right side of your screen as you add questions. While you're creating your outline, note that all instructors and TAs in your course will be able to edit it too. If multiple people are editing the outline at once, all the users will see a warning message at the top of your screen.
  2. When you're ready, add your question text in the Problem Field. You can use LaTeX and Markdown if needed to format the question text. Then, put your cursor on the line below your question text. Click the Insert Field dropdown. 
    The Edit Outline page for Online Assignments lets you also create multiple choice questions.
  3. From the dropdown, select the way you’d like students to answer this question: short answer, free response, multiple-choice, select all, or file upload. You can add multiple answer fields to a question if you’d like, but be sure each answer field is on a line by itself. See the next section of this guide for more on how the answer input fields work.
  4. Click the Add Question button after each question to insert the next problem or task in the assignment along with the point value and answer input fields, repeating the process explained in Steps 1-3. Click the Add Subquestion button after a question to add a child question beneath it and create a group. Note that when you make a group of questions, the top-level question can only be used for description text, and students cannot submit any input fields within that question. For instance, if you have Questions 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, students can only submit answers to those, and not to Question 1, the parent of the group.
  5. When you're finished, click Save. If you close your outline before saving it, the questions you added and changes you made will still be there when you return. However, even if the assignment release date has passed, your students and the other instructors in your course will not be able to see the latest questions or changes until you click Save Assignment either in the footer or after the last question in the outline. If you return to your outline and do not want to keep your unsaved changes, click the up arrow next to the Save Assignment button in the footer, and then click Discard Changes when the option appears.
Instructor seeing the unsaved changes and the discard changes option
 

Answer input fields

We currently support Multiple Choice, Select All, Short Answer, Free Response, and File Upload fields. For Multiple Choice, Select All, and Short Answer questions, you’ll supply the correct answer, and we’ll automatically grade your students’ responses. A question can have multiple input fields, in which case the student must get all of them correct to receive credit. Input markup must be the only thing on the line that it occurs on. This means that you currently cannot have text before or after an input field.

The Edit Outline page for Online Assignments showing how to insert a short answer field into a question.

Short Answer

  • Choosing "Short Answer" from the Insert Field dropdown or adding this Markdown syntax [____](answer) to a question's Problem Field gives students a text box where they can enter a short numerical answer or a response that is only a few words.
  • To allow Gradescope to autograde answers, you can put the correct answer inside the parentheses.
  • Correct answers in the parentheses can be text or numbers.
  • Make sure to put the answer field on a separate line, with no text before or after it.
  • If the answer is text...
    • At the moment, Gradescope can only accept one correct text answer in a short answer field.
    • Students will be autograded based on whether or not their response exactly matches the text you entered as the correct answer.
    • However, you do have options on the assignment's Settings page to ignore leading and trailing whitespace and case-sensitivity.
  • If the answer is numerical...
    • If there is only one correct numerical answer, you can simply put that numerical answer inside the parentheses.
    • If you want Gradescope to accept any mathematical equivalent of the correct answer, add = and +-0 to the answer input field. Adding = and +-0 on either side of the correct answer prompts Gradescope to accept any mathematical equivalent of the correct answer. Equivalents can be written using any of these supported operators: +, -, *, /, %, ^, ( ). See tip below.
    • If you want Gradescope to accept any mathematical equivalent of the correct answer within an acceptable margin of error, you can add = , +- , and then a value to the answer input field. Adding = , +- , and the additional value prompts Gradescope to accept any mathematical equivalent of any value that falls within the given range. Equivalents can be written using any of these supported operators: +, -, *, /, %, ^, ( ). See tip below.
      Formatting short answer input fields: Below are some examples to help you format short answer input fields.

      [____](2) means Gradescope will only accept "2" as the correct answer
      [____](=2+-0) means Gradescope will accept 2, 2.0, 2.00, 2/1, "1+1", "2*1", "2^1" etc.
      [____](=2+-0.2) means Gradescope will accept any mathematical equivalent of any value between 1.8 and 2.2

Free Response

  • Choosing "Free Response" from the Insert Field dropdown or adding this Markdown syntax |____| to a question's Problem Field gives students a text box where they can enter multi-paragraph text answers to that question.
  • If a question has any free-response boxes, they won’t be automatically graded and that question must be graded by hand.

Multiple Choice

  • Choosing "Multiple Choice" from the Insert Field dropdown or adding the Markdown syntax shown below will let students click on a single correct answer from a group of options.
  • ( ) description creates a choice.
  • (X) answer designates the correct answer among the choices.
  • Don’t leave blank lines between choices, or it’ll start a new group of choices.

Select All

  • Choosing "Select All" from the Insert Field dropdown or adding the Markdown syntax shown below will let students click on all the possible correct answers from a group of options.
  • [ ] description creates a choice.
  • [X] answer designates a correct answer among the choices.
  • Student must mark all required answers to get points.

File Upload

  • Choosing "File Upload" from the Insert Field dropdown or adding this |files| Markdown syntax lets students upload any file type (PDFs, images, code) as part of their response. 
  • File Upload fields also let instructors combine online questions and questions where students upload photos of handwritten work (or code files) within the same Gradescope assignment.
  • Though you can view and grade the uploaded files, you will not be able to mark on or annotate them.
    File upload fields in LockDown Browser: Unless students are submitting files that are already saved on the device they’re using for the assignment, File Upload input fields are not recommended for LockDown Browser assignments. If you're adding a File Upload question and enabling LockDown Browser, see Tips for file uploads in the section below on Additional security with LockDown Browser.
 

Formatting

Any normal text you type in the question box will be passed through as text. You can use Markdown and LaTeX expressions in your questions and students can use LaTeX in their responses (denote LaTeX with $$, eg. $$x^2$$). You can see a preview of what the assignment will look like to students in the pane on the right.

Check out our guides on Markdown and LaTeX for more details on how to use these.

 

Adding images

  1. In your Assignment Editor, find the question you like to add your image(s) to. Above the text you’ve entered for the question, click the Insert Images link. A dialog box will appear.
  2. In the dialog box, click the Select Images button and choose the image(s) from your files that you’d like to upload. Hold down the Command or Control key to select multiple images at once.
  3. When you’ve selected the image(s) you’d like to add to the question, click the Upload button.
    Methods for inserting images: Although using the Insert Images feature is recommended, you can also include images and graphics in the question body using Markdown by posting the link to the image. If you have the URL for the image, use the following syntax: ![alt text](image URL)
 

Adding explanations

If you'd like, you can add explanations for the correct answer and choose when/if you'd like students to see these explanations. To add an explanation to a question, put two square brackets ([[ ]]) around the explanation text. Make sure to put the explanation on a separate line, with no text before or after it. For multiple-line explanations, use brackets around each line of the explanation. Empty lines between explanations will break them up into two separate blocks. There isn’t currently a way to provide explanations for incorrect answers. However, you can add details about incorrect answer options to the explanation for the correct answer.

Choosing when/if explanations appear

To choose when/if students see an explanation depends on whether the two Answer Visibility boxes are checked on the assignment's Settings page.

  • If only "show explanations when students answer a question correctly" is checked, students will see the explanation as soon as they select the correct answer for an auto-graded question (e.g., multiple-choice or select all) or as soon as you grade a manually graded question with a full-credit rubric item. Students will see this explanation right away, even if the due date hasn't passed yet and even if grades for the assignment haven't been published yet. However, students who select incorrect answers or who don't get full credit would never see the explanation if only this checkbox is checked.
  • If only "show answers after due date" is checked, all students will see explanations, regardless of whether they selected the correct or incorrect answer, and regardless of their score. However, they will only see these explanations after the due date and after grades for the assignment are published.
  • If both checkboxes are checked, students who have the correct answer or full credit will see explanations right away, and students who have the incorrect answer will see explanations after the due date has passed and grades have been published.
  • If neither checkbox is checked, no students will ever see any explanations.
 

Adding subquestions and removing questions

You can add new questions or subquestions using the Insert Question and Add Subquestion buttons below each question. The dashed line with an icon, when hovered over, turns into an “Insert Question” button, which inserts a question at the spot where the line is (in between two questions).

The question interface showing options for adding questions and how to delete them.

Adding a subquestion turns the question into a question group and adds a child question of the current question. Note that when you make a group of questions, the top-level question can only be used for description text, and students cannot submit any input fields within that question. i.e. If you have questions 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, students can only submit answers to those, and not to Question 1, the parent of the group.

Finally, you can delete questions using the Delete Question button. Deleting all parts of a question group will revert that question group to a regular question (i.e. inputs will work again).

 

Hiding questions and responses

  1. If you’d like to, you can choose to hide an Online Assignment’s questions and students’ responses after the time limit expires or the due date passes (if no time limit is set). To do this, first, open your assignment and navigate to the Assignment Settings page from the left side panel.
  2. On your Assignment Settings page, under Questions and Student Work Visibility select “Show after grades are published.”
  3. Then click the Save button. Questions and students’ responses will now be hidden after the time limit expires or the due date passes. Students will regain access once you click Publish Grades.
 

Displaying answers immediately

By default, students won’t see their feedback and scores until you click the Publish Grades button. For formative assessments in which you'd like students to see their results and feedback for auto-graded questions immediately (e.g., for multiple-choice, select all, or short-answer/fill-in-the-blank questions) you should click Publish Grades from the Review Grades page before you release the assignment to students. Here's how to do that.

  1. Create your Online Assignment and be sure to fill in the correct answers where applicable. Before you release the assignment to students, click Review Grades in the left side panel (Course > Assignment > Review Grades). This will take you to the Review Grades page for that assignment.
  2. On your Review Grades page, click the Publish Grades button in the bottom right. Now, as soon as a student saves an answer, they will immediately see whether that answer is correct or incorrect. See the note and image below for more on incorrect answer notifications.
    Incorrect answers: If a student answers incorrectly, they will only see that their answer was incorrect. They will not see the correct answers unless you opt to display answers after the due date. However, students can resubmit and update answers until the due date passes or the time limit expiration.
student view online assignment incorrect answer
 

Displaying answers after the due date

If you’d like students to see the correct answers for each auto-graded question (e.g., multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions) after the due date has passed (even if they did not get the correct answer), you can check the "Show answers after due date box" on the assignment’s Settings page. Please keep in mind that even if you check "Show answers after the due date," you still need to click Publish Grades on the Review Grades page for students to see the correct answers. Also, if you set a late due date, students will only see correct answers after the late due date has passed, not after the due date.

 

Timed assignments

The optional Maximum Time Permitted feature lets you give students a set number of minutes to complete an Online Assignment from the moment they open it and see the questions. When students open an assignment with a time limit, they’re told how long they have to complete it and can then confirm that they’d like to begin. Students will then see a countdown timer on their screen as they complete the assignment. They can hide the timer if they don’t want to see it and reveal again if they change their mind. Unless you have enabled LockDown Browser, during the submission period, students can update their answers any number of times. The most recently submitted answer for each question at the end of the time limit will be saved for you to view and grade. Because students only have a finite amount of time to submit work, timed assignments reduce the risk of students cheating or working together to get the answers.

Extending dates and time limits

If you want to extend or modify when a specific student can start, work on, or submit an assignment, check out Extending assignment release dates, due dates, late due dates, and time limits.

To learn how to give a student more time on all timed assignments in a course, check out Extending time limits at the course level. Currently, at the course level, you can only give blanket time limit extensions. You cannot give a student an extension on all assignment release dates, due dates, or late due dates in a course at once. You would need to give the student those extensions on each assignment. 

Additional security with LockDown Browser (Beta)

Post-beta availability: The LockDown Browser feature is currently in beta. While LockDown Browser is in beta, instructors must email help@gradescope.com to be able to enable this feature for their course. Once out of beta, LockDown Browser will be available with institutional site licenses and for individual courses subscribed to Gradescope Complete
Compatibility: Please note that the LockDown Browser feature is compatible with Mac operating systems (OS) and most Windows OS. LockDown Browser is not compatible with Chrome OS or Windows 10 in S Mode.

If you’re creating a timed Online Assignment, you will have the option to enable LockDown Browser Powered by Respondus to help prevent cheating or collusion among students. Enabling the LockDown Browser feature means that once your students have started their timed Online Assignment, they will be taken to a secured browser window and will not be able to open any additional tabs, windows, or applications until they have finished their work. Students will only be able to submit once and will not be able to resubmit or update answers after turning in the assignment or the timer runs out. Follow the steps below for how to enable this feature. 

  1. Once you've created your timed Online Assignment, click on the assignment Settings link in your left side panel. This will take you to the Settings page for the assignment. If you'd like, on the Settings page, under Questions and Student Work Visibility select “Show after grades are published” to hide questions and students’ responses after the time limit expires or the due date passes. Students will regain access when you publish grades. Then select "Enable LockDown Browser Powered by Respondus." A new section of settings will appear.
  2. Under Calculator, if you'd like, you can choose the type of calculator ("Basic" or "Scientific") that you'd like students to have on their screen while they work. Choose "Neither" if none is needed. Under Printing, if you'd like, you can check "Enable printing" to give students a printer icon on their screen while they work that they can use to download and print their Online Assignment. Leave the box unchecked if this functionality is not needed.
  3. Under Add to blocklist, type any tools or programs you do not want students to be able to access while working on their assignment. Note that thousands of screen-capture, messaging, screen-sharing, note-taking, and network monitor apps are disabled by default. Separate your listed tools or programs with commas and include the correct platform extension (".exe" for Windows programs or ".app" for Mac programs).
  4. Under Remove from blocklist, type any tools or programs (i.e., for students with screen readers) you want to allow to run in the background on students' computers while they're taking the locked down assignment. Note that students still won't be able to directly access these apps during the locked down session. Separate your listed tools or programs with commas and include the correct platform extension (".exe" for Windows programs or ".app" for Mac programs).
  5. Click the Save button when you're finished. Once students have completed the assignment, grading will follow the same process as any other Online Assignment.
    No resubmissions: Remember, in LockDown Browser, students cannot resubmit or update their answers once they submit their assignment or the timer runs out. However, if a student accidentally ends their assignment early or is unable to upload a file to a question, any instructor or TA in the course can update or submit work on the student's behalf.

Using Zoom with LockDown Browser
  1. In order to use Zoom to monitor your students as they work in a LockDown Browser session, you'll need to add Zoom to the Remove from blocklist section for the assignment. To do that, open the assignment and click Settings in the left sidebar.
  2. On the Settings page, scroll down to the Remove from blocklist section.
  3. Making sure there are no spaces after each comma, enter (or copy and paste) the text below so that Zoom will no longer be blocked on your students' Mac and Windows computers: zoom.us,zoom.us.app,zoom.exe
  4. Click Save.
  5. When it's time for your students to complete their assignment, have them open the Zoom session first. Then tell them to start their assignment in Gradescope. Zoom will continue to run in the background of the assignment so you can monitor your students, but they will not be able to access the Zoom window once the assignment opens in LockDown Browser.

Tips for file uploads in LockDown Browser

Unless students are submitting files that are already saved on the device they’re using for the assignment, File Upload input fields are not recommended for LockDown Browser assignments. If you do want to use a File Upload field, follow the tips below.

  • File is already on the device being used: File Upload fields function the best if students will be uploading a file that they have previously saved on the device they’re using to complete their assignment. In that case, students will simply need to click the Select File button on their screen > locate the file > click Upload.

  • File is not on the device being used: Because their browser will be locked down and most outside programs will be blocked, students will not be able to email or message themselves a file once they’ve started the assignment. If you want students to upload a file that they create during the assignment, they will need to share it from a mobile device to the device they’re using to complete the assignment via a file-sharing service (e.g., AirDrop, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.). Once the file is shared, they can click the Select File button on their screen > locate the file > click Upload.  In this situation, we recommend having your student test out the process like this:
    1. Have students write or draw on a sheet of paper.
    2. Have students take a picture of the paper or use a scanning app to scan it from their phone.
    3. Have students share the file from their phone to the device they’ll be using via a file-sharing service.
    4. Have students open the file directory on their device (e.g., Finder on Macs).
    5. Have students confirm that they can locate the file from the file directory on their device.
 

Submission Interface

Submission differences in LockDown Browser: If you enabled LockDown Browser for your timed assignment, it might be more helpful to check out the student guide on Submitting in LockDown Browser. Though students enter their answers the same way they do in standard timed Online Assignments, assignments done in LockDown Browser require additional installation steps and have a slightly different interface while students are working.

Once you’ve created the assignment, your students will be able to log in and enter their responses within the submission period. Students can use LaTeX in their responses to free response questions, and they can upload files of any type to file upload questions. As students complete each question, they’ll see a progress indicator telling them how many questions they’ve answered and how many questions they have left. 

The way students save or submit answers is slightly different based on whether or not the assignment has a time limit:

  • In timed assignments, students’ answers will be autosaved as they enter them. They will not have a button to submit each one. Students will also see a countdown timer (which can be hidden) in the top right corner of their screen. 
  • In non-timed assignments, students will need to click the Submit Answer button as they finish each question. They’ll see a timestamp next to each answer they submit. Along the top of their screen, they can also track how many questions they’ve answered or started but haven’t submitted. Any answers they haven’t submitted will have an asterisk next to them in their assignment. 

Unless you enabled LockDown Browser for the assignment, during the allotted time (if you set a time limit) and submission period, students can submit or update their answers as many times as they need to. You will only see students’ final answers for each question. With LockDown Browser, students will only be able to submit once.

When students log in, they will see a link on their course dashboard to submit an online assignment. If they have already submitted, the link will take them to their submission, and there will be a “Resubmit” button that they can use to resubmit as many times as they’d like before the deadline or time limit expiration. 

You can preview what the student submission interface will look like by going to the assignment’s Manage Submissions page and clicking New Submission. Note that this interface will automatically show the instructor whether the answer was correct or incorrect, but students will not see this unless you’ve published grades.

 

Submitting work on students' behalf

Instructors and TAs can submit work to an online assignment on behalf of students at any point, regardless of any set due dates, time limits, or whether or not LockDown Browser was enabled for the assignment.

  1. Open your assignment. Click the left side panel to expand it (if it isn’t already) and select Manage Submissions. This will take you to a list of submissions that have been made to this assignment so far.
  2. Click the New Submission button at the bottom of the screen.
  3. On the submission page, type or select the student’s name from the dropdown under the assignment title.
  4. Enter or select the responses your student has given you. Upload any of their documents to the appropriate Upload File question. Click the Submit Answer button as you complete each question. If your student had existing responses that you did not touch, those will be preserved.
  5. When you’re finished, click the View Submission button to see the work you submitted for your student.
 

Grading

No mark-up or annotations: Please note that you will not be able to mark up or annotate files students have uploaded to Online Assignments.

Auto-graded fields

Multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions will be graded automatically based on the correct answer you provided in the question's problem field. Short answer questions require an exact match to be marked correct. You can enable options for making the matching case-insensitive and to remove leading/trailing whitespaces on the assignment’s Settings page. If there are multiple input fields in one question, students must answer all of them correctly to receive any credit. Also, if there are both auto-graded and manually graded fields (see below) in the same question, you will need to manually grade all fields. Though you can auto-grade multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions, AI-assisted grading and answer-grouping are not possible on any answer field in Online Assignments at this time. Note that you can manually override any auto-grading by going to the Grade Submissions page, clicking on the question name, and editing the rubric or rubric item applications.

Manually graded fields

Free-response and file upload fields can only be graded manually from the assignment’s Grade Submissions page. If there are both auto-graded (see above) and manually grade fields in the same question, you will need to manually grade both fields. Also, though you can auto-grade multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions, auto-grading, as well as AI-assisted grading and answer-grouping are not possible on free-response and file upload fields at this time.

Publishing grades

Note that students won’t see their feedback and scores until you publish grades. If you intend for students to see their results for auto-graded questions immediately, you should publish grades from the Review Grades page when you are finished creating the assignment. See the section on Displaying answers immediately above for more on this.

If you’d like students to see the correct answers for each auto-graded question after the due date has passed (even if they did not get the correct answer), you can check the Show answers after due date box on the assignment’s Settings page.

Deleting submissions

Editing an assignment currently leaves any grading on existing submissions alone. To delete a student’s submission, check their score, or see when they started an assignment or last updated their latest submission, head to your Manage Submissions page.

Regrading auto-graded questions

If the points for auto-graded questions need to be recomputed or rescored, you’ll find a Regrade All Submissions button on the assignment’s Manage Submissions page as well. Clicking the Regrade All Submissions button will regrade all auto-graded questions (multiple-choice, select all, and short answer questions) for all students based on the answer and point value listed in the assignment outline for that question (see next paragraph). Rubrics for questions with free response and file upload fields will not be affected.

Loss of manually applied changes when auto-regrading

Please note that if you've altered the point values, or added and applied new rubric items to auto-graded questions, it is not recommended that you click Regrade All Submissions. Clicking Regrade All Submissions will reset most of your custom changes. Below are some examples of what will happen:

  • If you applied a different rubric item to a student's response on an auto-graded question (e.g., if a student's response was auto-graded as "incorrect" and you change the marking to "correct"), clicking Regrade All Submissions will reset the student's correct/incorrect marking and points for that question based on the assignment outline.
  • If you created and applied a new rubric item to a student's response on an auto-graded question (e.g., you created a new rubric item and used it to give a student partial credit), the new rubric item will still be there after you click Regrade All Submissions. However, the student's correct/incorrect marking and points for that question will be reset based on the assignment outline.
  • If you changed the point value in the rubric item of an auto-graded question, clicking Regrade All Submissions will reset the rubric item's point value based on the assignment outline and update points accordingly on any submission where this rubric item had been applied.
  • If you updated the description in the rubric item of an auto-graded question, your updated description will still be there after you click Regrade All Submissions.

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