# 7.26.1. Open Response Assessments¶

The topics in this section provide an overview and details about open response assessments.

## 7.26.1.1. Introduction to Open Response Assessments¶

Open response assessments allow the course team to assign questions that might not have definite answers, such as text responses or short essays. Learners submit responses to questions, then each learner and the learner’s peers compare the responses to a rubric that you create. You can also allow learners to upload an image to accompany a text response.

Open response assessments can include both peer assessments and self assessments. In peer assessments, learners compare their peers’ responses to a rubric that you create. In self assessments, learners compare their own responses to the rubric.

In open response assessments, learners usually only see their own responses and any peer responses they assess. You can also allow learners to see the top scoring responses that their peers have submitted. For more information, see Top Responses.

Note

Open response assessments that are visible to all learners do not respect cohorts. In other words, it is possible for learners in one cohort to be asked to grade responses for learners in another cohort. If you want to make an open response assessment divided by cohort, you must create that assessment in a course component that is defined as cohort-specific. For more information about cohorts and creating cohort-specific courseware, see Using Cohorts in Your Courses and Creating Cohort-Specific Courseware.

For more information about creating open response assessments, including step by step instructions, see the following sections.

For information about viewing metrics and learner responses for released open response assessments, see Accessing Assignment and Learner Metrics.

For information about the learner experience with open response assessments, see Open Response Assessments in the edX Guide for Learners.

## 7.26.1.2. Best Practices for Open Response Assessments¶

Open response assessments can be a powerful teaching tool, but they are more effective in some situations than in others. In general, open response assessments are best suited to open-ended or project-based assignments with subjective essay answers and discussion. For example, open response assessments work well in humanities assignments where learners are encouraged to make subjective assessments of text or images, but they might not be the ideal tool in chemistry assignments where there are definitively correct or incorrect answers to questions.

EdX suggests that you follow these guidelines and best practices when you use open response assessments in your courses.

• Make sure you have a well designed and clear rubric. A good rubric is very important in helping to eliminate ambiguity in the peer grading process.

• Make ORA assignments count toward only a small percentage of the final course grade, or make them ungraded.

• In graded ORA assignments, consider setting the lowest possible score to a number higher than zero, so that learners can earn some credit for the work they have done, even if their peer assessors give them low grades.

• Provide an ungraded practice ORA assignment prior to the first graded ORA assignment in the course, so that learners can understand the peer grading process and get the most out of the eventual graded ORA assignment.

• Consider using ungraded ORA assignments to generate learner interaction and feedback without affecting grades.

• Be wary of including too many ORA assessments in your course. Peer assessments are hard work for learners, and having to perform too many peer assessments can have a negative impact on learners’ course completion rates.

• Set the Must Grade number higher than the Graded By number to minimize the chance that some responses will not be peer assessed. EdX recommends a setting such as Must Grade = 4 and Graded By = 3.

• In ORA assignments, to allow enough time for peer assessments to be performed after learners have submitted their own responses, set the response due date and time at least one week before the peer assessment due date and time. If the response due time and peer assessment due time are close together, and a learner submits a response just before responses are due, other learners may not have time to perform peer assessments before peer assessments are due.

• In discussion posts, provide guidance for peer grading of ORA assignments.

• Consider extending due dates to allow the discussion moderation team to monitor course discussions for questions about, or reactions to, peer grading, and to address issues when necessary.

If learners raise concerns about ORA assignments in course discussions, course team members can perform actions such as deleting a learner’s history, or “state” for a problem so that he can submit his assignment again, or removing a learner response from peer grading. If there are more widespread issues with peer grading, the course team can reduce the weight of the peer assessment within the final course grade or allow learners to drop the lowest graded assignment from their grades.

## 7.26.1.3. Elements of an Open Response Assessment¶

When you create an open response assessment assignment, you include several elements:

• One or more prompts, or questions.
• The rubric. One rubric is used to grade all the prompts in the assessment.
• One or more assessment steps. Assignments can include a learner training step, a peer assessment step, and a self assessment step.

Note

If you include a learner training step, you must also include a peer assessment step. The learner training step must come first, before the peer and self assessment steps.

For step-by-step instructions for creating an open response assessment, see Create an Open Response Assessment Assignment.

### 7.26.1.3.1. Prompts¶

Each prompt, or question, that you want your learners to answer, appears near the top of the page, followed by a field where the learner enters a response. You can require your learners to enter text as a response, or you can allow your learners to both enter text and upload an image.

Note

If learners upload an image, the image file must be a .jpg or .png file, and it must be smaller than 5 MB in size.

When you write each question, you can include helpful information for your learners, such as what they can expect after they submit responses, or the approximate number of words or sentences that their response should have.

Note

Each learner is limited to a total word count of 10,000 for all responses in an ORA assignment.

In open response assessments, you can ask your learners to upload an image as part of their response. If you do this, however, keep the following points in mind.

• You cannot require your learners to upload an image. You can only allow it.
• All responses must include some text. Learners cannot submit a response that contains only an image.
• Learners can submit only one image with each response.

Note

Currently, course teams cannot see any of the images that learners submit. Images are not visible in the body of the assignment in the courseware, and they are not included in the course data package.

### 7.26.1.3.2. Rubric¶

Your assignment must include a rubric that you design. The same rubric is used for peer and self assessments, and the rubric appears when learners begin grading. Learners compare their peers’ responses to the rubric.

Rubrics consist of criteria and options.

• Each criterion has a name, a prompt, and one or more options.

• The name is a very short summary of the criterion, such as “Ideas” or “Content”. Criterion names generally have just one word. Because the system uses criterion names for identification, the name for each criterion must be unique. Criterion names do not appear in the rubric that learners see when they are completing peer assessments, but they do appear on the page that shows the learner’s final grade.

• The prompt is a description of the criterion.

• Options describe how well the response satisfies the criterion.

• Each option has a name, an explanation, and a point value.

Different criteria in the same assignment can have different numbers of options. For example, in the image above, the first criterion has three options and the second criterion has four options.

Note

You can also include criteria that do not have options, but that do include a field where learners can enter feedback. For more information, see Provide Only Comment Fields for Individual Criteria.

You can see both criterion and option names when you access assignment information for an individual learner. For more information, see Accessing Assignment and Learner Metrics.

When you create your rubric, decide how many points each option will receive, and make sure that the explanation for each option is as specific as possible. For example, one criterion and set of options may resemble the following.

Criterion

Name: Origins

Prompt: Does this response explain the origins of the Hundred Years’ War? (5 points possible)

Options

Points Name Explanation
0 Not at all This response does not address the origins of the Hundred Years’ War.
1 Dynastic disagreement This response alludes to a dynastic disagreement between England and France, but doesn’t reference Edward III of England and Philip VI of France.
3 Edward and Philip This response mentions the dynastic disagreement between Edward III and Philip VI, but doesn’t address the role of Salic law.
5 Salic law This response explains the way that Salic law contributed to the dynastic disagreement between Edward III and Philip VI, leading to the Hundred Years’ War.

Note

For peer grading, the most effective rubrics are as concrete and specific as possible. Many novice learners will be unqualified to make the types of value judgments required for more holistic rubrics. In addition, edX suggests using clear, simple language in rubrics.

### 7.26.1.3.3. Assessment Steps¶

In your assignment, you also specify the assessment steps. You can set the assignment to include a learner training step, a peer assessment step, and a self assessment step.

You can see the type and order of the assessments when you look at the assignment. In the following example, after learners submit a response, they complete a learner training step (“Learn to Assess Responses”), complete peer assessments on other learners’ responses (“Assess Peers”), and then complete self assessments (“Assess Your Response”).

Note

If you include a learner training step, you must also include a peer assessment step. The learner training step must come before peer or self assessment steps. If you include both peer and self assessment steps, edX recommends that you place the peer assessment before the self assessment.

#### 7.26.1.3.3.1. Learner Training Step¶

When you create a peer assessment assignment, you can include one or more learner training assessments to help learners learn to perform their own assessments. A learner training assessment contains one or more sample responses that you write, together with the scores that you would give the sample responses. Learners review these responses and try to score them the way that you scored them.

Note

If you include a learner training step, you must also include a peer assessment step. The learner training step must come before peer and self assessment steps.

In a learner training assessment, the Learn to Assess Responses step opens immediately after a learner submits a response. The learner sees one of the sample responses that you created, along with the rubric. The scores that you gave the response do not appear. The learner also sees the number of sample responses that he or she will assess.

The learner selects an option for each of the assignment’s criteria, and then selects Compare your selections with the instructor’s selections. If all of the learner’s selections match the selections defined by the course team, the next sample response opens automatically.

If any of the learner’s selections differ from those specified by the course team, the learner sees the response again, and the following message appears above the response.

Learning to Assess Responses
Your assessment differs from the instructor's assessment of this response. Review the
response and consider why the instructor may have assessed it differently. Then, try
the assessment again.


For each of the criteria, the learner sees one of the following two messages, depending on whether the learner’s selections matched those of the course team.

Selected Options Differ
The option you selected is not the option that the instructor selected.

Selected Options Agree
The option you selected is the option that the instructor selected.


For example, the following learner chose one correct option and one incorrect option.

The learner continues to try scoring the sample response until the learner’s scoring for all criteria matches the scoring defined by the course team.

#### 7.26.1.3.3.2. Peer Assessment Step¶

In the peer assessment step, learners review other learners’ responses. For each response, they select an option for each criterion in your rubric based on the response. Learners can also provide text feedback, or comments, on each response.

If you include both peer and self assessment steps, edX recommends that you place the peer assessment before the self assessment.

#### 7.26.1.3.3.3. Number of Responses and Assessments¶

When you specify a peer assessment step, you specify the number of responses that each learner has to assess (Must Grade) and the number of peer assessments that each response has to receive (Graded By) before the assignment is complete.

Note

Because some learners might submit a response without performing any peer assessments, some responses might not receive the required number of assessments. To increase the chance that all responses receive a sufficient number of assessments, you must set the number of responses that learners must assess to be higher than the number of assessments that each response must undergo. For example, if you require each response to receive three assessments, you could require each learner to assess five responses.

If all responses have received assessments, but some learners have not completed the required number of peer assessments, those learners can assess responses that other learners have already assessed. The learner who submitted the response sees the additional peer assessments when he sees his score. However, the additional peer assessments do not count toward the score that the response receives.

#### 7.26.1.3.3.4. Feedback Options¶

By default, learners see a single comment field below the entire rubric. You can also add a comment field to an individual criterion or to several individual criteria. This comment field can contain up to 300 characters.

The comment field appears below the options for the criterion. In the following image, both criteria have a comment field. There is also a field for overall comments on the response.

For more information, see Step 3. Add the Rubric and Provide Only Comment Fields for Individual Criteria.

Learners can assess more than the required number of responses. After a learner completes the peer assessment step, the step “collapses” so that only the Assess Peers heading is visible.

If the learner selects the Assess Peers heading, the step expands. The learner can then select Continue Assessing Peers.

### 7.26.1.3.4. Self Assessment Step¶

In self assessments, the learner sees his response followed by your rubric. As with peer assessments, the learner compares the rubric to his response and selects an option for each of the criteria.

If you include both peer and self assessments, edX recommends that you include the peer assessment before the self assessment.

## 7.26.1.4. How Open Response Assessments Are Scored¶

In open response assessments that contain both peer assessment and self assessments, only the peer assessment score counts toward the assignment’s final grade. The self assessment score is not taken into account. There is no option for weighting the peer and self assessment portions independently.

In open response assessments that include only self assessments, the assignment’s final grade is equivalent to the self assessment score.

Note

Given the high level of subjectivity in peer assessments, edX recommends that you make ORA assignments count towards only a small percentage of a course’s final grade.

The following sections detail how the scores for peer assessments and self assessments are calculated.

### 7.26.1.4.1. Peer Assessment Scoring¶

Note

If an open response assessment includes both peer and self assessments, only the peer assessment score counts towards the assignment’s final grade. The self assessment score is not taken into account.

Peer assessments are scored by criteria. A number of peer assessors rate a learner’s response by each of the required criteria. The learner’s score for a particular criterion is the median of all scores that each peer assessor gave that criterion. For example, if the Ideas criterion in a peer assessment receives a 10 from one learner, a 7 from a second learner, and an 8 from a third learner, the Ideas criterion’s score is 8.

The learner’s final score on a response is the sum of the median scores from all peer assessors for all of the required criteria.

For example, a response might have received the following scores from peer assessors.

Criterion Name Peer 1 Peer 2 Peer 3 Median
Ideas (out of 10) 10 7 8 8
Content (out of 10) 7 9 8 8
Grammar (out of 5) 4 4 5 4

To calculate the final score for the response, add the median scores that were given for each criterion, as follows.

Ideas median (8/10) + Content median (8/10) + Grammar median (4/5) = final score (20/25)

Note

Remember that final scores are calculated by criteria, not by individual assessor. Therefore, the score for the response is not the median of the scores that each individual peer assessor gave the response.

For information on grades for learner submissions that you have cancelled and removed from peer assessment, refer to Remove a Learner’s Response from Peer Grading.

### 7.26.1.4.2. Self Assessment Scoring¶

Note

If an open response assessment includes both peer and self assessments, the self assessment score does not count toward the final grade.

If an open response assessment includes only self assessments, the assignment’s final grade is equivalent to the self assessment score.

Self assessments are scored by criteria. Each learner rates herself on each criterion, using the rubric. The learner’s final score on a response is the total number of earned points, out of the total possible points.

## 7.26.1.5. Top Responses¶

You can include a Top Responses section that shows the top-scoring responses that learners have submitted for the assignment, along with the scores for those responses. The Top Responses section appears below the learner’s score information after the learner finishes every step in the assignment.

You can allow the Top Responses section to show between 1 and 100 responses. Keep in mind, however, that each response might be up to 300 pixels in height in the list. (For longer responses, learners can scroll to see the entire response.) EdX recommends that you specify 20 or fewer responses to prevent the page from becoming too long.

Note

It may take up to an hour for a high-scoring response to appear in the Top Responses list.

If a high-scoring response is removed from peer assessment it is also removed from the Top Responses list.