Some thoughts on self-checking / auto-grading

Super grateful for this entire discussion. I think a lot of folks are hitting the nail on the head.

We’re certainly not against automated feedback (in fact, almost all of our best activities have some of it built in). We’re just aware that the design choices we make now will have cascading and sometimes unintended consequences and want to get these right.

To @PanettaMath’s & @Mike_Gleeson’s point that we need to at least meet folks expectations or they’ll go elsewhere: heard! and agreed. We’ll move as quickly as we feel we can safely.

Adding on to @Jeff_Holcomb’s taxonomy: I just love (1) [natural, interpretive feedback], (4) [feedback from teacher], and (3) [comparison’s with other students – especially if they can provide feedback to each other, per @PanettaMath]. We’re going to be working to make all 3 of these easier and easier with time.

One of the big risks – in addition to pedagogical design challenges – with 2 and 5 to me are the risk of falsely grading. It’s so easy, especially with string comparisons, to mark something as incorrect when it’s correct (and vice versa, though that’s both less common and less worrisome). We’ll also keep working to make it easier to write correctness conditions (e.g. using xyLine instead of comparing LaTeX).

In the meanwhile, we kind of already have opened up Pandora’s box. Everyone now has access to Computation Layer now… so the challenge is to try to help out especially new folks use the power of feedback as constructively as possible.

Again, love the discussion here. Grateful to all and let’s keep it open as we continue to change (and hopefully upgrade) Computation Layer.


Since we are now “back at it” in the classroom, this discussion again moves to the front burner. I really like the “here are three answers from others” and I am wondering what would happen if a student was able to then mark next to each of those if the agreed or disagreed, or a Likert scale, or a comment? Getting students to engage (in good faith) with other students about their answers, and thinking, is the super power I want.


Yep – love the idea that students are doing something more than just observing their classmates’ responses. I’m imagining something like students walking along posters made by their classmates, leaving notes of appreciation and also questions. Over here, we’re just trying to carefully portion out our company’s time and energy in light of massive need from teachers right now. Hang in there. PS. Loved your taxonomy above.


Yep-- same vision. I think we might even have a better shot at teaching the kids to do good feedback via tech than with post-its too.

I feel Desmos has the pedagogy, vision, passion, capabilities, and kindness all lined up. Truly special, nothing else that I know of is close. So yea, I’ll wait :smile:


I don’t know if I am wondering too far afield on this thread, but I am working on a self-assessment for the kids to go at the end of (at least some) AB’s. Here is a first go:

  1. Did you complete all the slides?
  2. Did you read all the teacher comments?
  3. Did you address all the teacher comments?
  4. Are your answers correct?
  5. Did you read, reflect on, and make use of the answers from other students?

I’m interested in ways we could incorporate feedback via mathematical play within activity builder. Gamifying the ABs similar to the feel of polygraphs or marble slides. Marble slides builds in feedback independently whereas polygraphs is partnered.

One activity I used to do in person was have students describe a graph using key features and the other student had to try and sketch the graph. You can approximate this with Zoom breakout sessions and having a student screen share. But I guess what I am thinking is a Player A and Player B type deal.

Player A sees a graph that was generated for them
Player B asks for a specific feature (or chooses from a list)
Player A Tries to correctly answer that feature
Player B can either begin sketching or ask for another feature
Game continues until Player B submits sketch
Then switch roles

Goal to sketch a graph close to the original in as few exchanges as possible (similar to polygraphs).

This is a single example…and I am sure it is a programming nightmare to do that + give access to the public, but I do think feedback in game form is quite powerful


After reading your post here, I thought of this activity I did recently. It’s an attempt at students analyzing other’s work…
The downside is the time delay, students did the work on the previous day and this was a starter screen on the following lesson.

It would be nice to give students the opportunity to choose one response from a classmate (when “Sharing with Class”) to respond to also. A “response to a response” so to say. Not quite sure how to make that happen though.

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