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# Use Formula Quiz Questions in Canvas

Last updated on October 19, 2021

Formula questions are an easy way for math and science instructors to create numerically-randomized questions for their students. To make a formula question, the instructor adds a mathematical formula with variables and variable ranges to the quiz question. The value of the variable will be different for every quiz attempt. This means that students will get different questions every time they retake the quiz, providing them with additional unique problem-solving opportunities without requiring instructors to write a large number of questions.

## Best Practices

• Thoughtfully set minimum and maximum values for each variable to avoid errors (such as dividing by zero).
• Consider allowing students multiple attempts on quizzes with formula questions so that they can learn from their mistakes without repeating the same questions.
• Make sure that students know how many decimal places or significant figures they should use in their answers.
• Remember to use an accessible method like a math equation editor, inline LaTeX, or an image with descriptive alt text to write all student-facing formulas.

## Let’s walk through it together

### Create a Formula Question in a Classic Quiz

1. Click the name of the quiz you wish to add the question to.
2. Click Edit.
3. Click the Questions tab at the top of the page.
4. Click the +New Question button at the bottom of the page.
5. Type a Question Title, if desired.
6. Select Formula Question from the drop-down menu.
7. Type the question prompt into the Rich Content Editor. Define each variable that you wish to have replaced by a number for students using square brackets.
• Example #1: What is 5 plus [x]?
• Example #2: Calculate the derivative of \([a]x^3+[b]x^2+[c]x+[d]\) when x is equal to 2.
• Note: click “Need Help?” then “Functions” to view a list of functions that Canvas supports.
• Note: an accessible method should be used to typeset all mathematical symbols and superscripts. Example 2 uses inline LaTeX.
1. Press Enter on your keyboard.
2. Scroll down to the Variable Definitions area that appears.
3. Type the minimum value, maximum value, and number of decimal places for each variable.
4. Click Recompute to view examples of the values Canvas could insert into the equation.
5. Type the formula that Canvas should use to compute the answer into the Formula box. Use the same variables as defined above.
• Note: Do not use brackets or equal signs in the formula.
• Note: You may use operators such as + (add), – (subtract), * (multiply), / (divide), and ^ (power).
• Example #1: 5 + x
• Example #2: 12*a + 4*b + c
• Note: these equations do not need to be typeset, as they will never be viewed by students.
1. Select the number of decimal places you want used for the result from the drop-down menu.
2. Click Save.
3. Check that the Result is correct given the Example Variables listed above.
• Note: If you get an “Unexpected variable” error, check that you are not using brackets or equal signs, and make sure you have entered the operators as described in Step 10. Re-enter the formula and click Save again.
1. Enter the number of possible solutions you wish to generate in the “Offer [number] possible value combinations” box.
2. Enter the margin of error you will permit for student responses in the “error margin of +/- [number]” box.
3. Click Generate.
4. Click the comment bubbles to add feedback for correct, incorrect, and/or all answers, if desired.
5. Click Update Question.

#### Create a Formula Question in a New Quiz

1. Click the name of the quiz you wish to add the question to.
2. Click Build.
3. Click the blue + (Plus) button.
4. Select the Formula question type.
5. Type a Question Title, if desired.
6. Type the question prompt into the Add Question Stem box. Define each variable that you wish to have replaced by a number for students using backticks.
• Example #1: What is 5 plus `x`?
• Example #2: Calculate the derivative of \(`a`x^3+`b`x^2+`c`x+`d`\) when x is equal to 2.
• Note: an accessible method should be used to typeset all mathematical symbols and superscripts. Example 2 uses inline LaTeX.
1. Scroll down to the Answers area that appears.
2. Type the minimum value, maximum value, and number of decimal places for each variable.
3. Type the formula that Canvas should use to compute the answer into the Formula Definition box. Use the same variables as defined above.
• Note: Do not use backticks or equal signs in the formula.
• Note: You may use operators such as + (add), – (subtract), * (multiply), / (divide), and ^ (power).
• Example #1: 5 + x
• Example #2: 12*a + 4*b + c
• Note: these equations do not need to be typeset, as they will never be viewed by students.
1. Enter the number of possible solutions you wish to generate in the Number of Solutions box.
2. Enter the number of decimal places you wish to use for the solution in the Decimal Places box.
3. Select Display as Scientific Notation, if desired.
4. Select the margin type (Absolute or Percent) from the drop-down menu.
5. Enter the accepted margin of error in the +/- margin of error box.
6. Click Generate.
7. Review the variable combinations and results that appear. Ensure they are correct.
8. Adjust options, including on-screen calculator, item banking, possible points, and feedback, if desired.
9. Click Done.