Free text

Free text assessments allow students to answer questions in their own words. Teachers are then able to review and manually grade their answers.

Assessment definition

Setting up a free text assessment is very simple. The configuration fields for a free text assessment are split into four sections: General, Grading, Metadata, and Files.


  • Name is a short name that describes the assessment. This name will appear in teacher dashboards, so naming it clearly is important so teachers can see precisely which challenges are successfully met (or not) by students. In many cases, you do not want to see this text appear within the challenge text the student sees. To suppress this text, flip the Show Name switch next to the name field.
  • Instructions is the actual text that should be shown to the user, written in Markdown.


  • The Points field is the number of points allocated for the question. You can choose any positive numeric value. Enabling the Allow Partial Points switch will allow the teacher when grading the answer to select the points to give for the students answer.
  • Preview Type specified the expected input by the student. Codio offers plaintext and markdown options. LaTeX is also supported. Please refer to the Preview type section below for details.
  • One Attempt Only can be used to restrict the student to answering the question once. If not enabled, students will be able to edit their answer until the Unit is marked as Completed.
  • Answer and Rationale is where guidance for the assessment can be entered. This will be visible to the teacher when the project is opened using the Open as Teacher method. This guidance information can also be shown to students after they have submitted their answer and also if they reload the unit after marking it as completed. To enable this, flip the Show Answer and Rationale to Student switch below the guidance field.


The Metadata section contains fields that further describe the current assessment using a variety of factors:

  • Bloom’s Level: The options for this field correspond to the general levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is a comprehensive system of classification for educational content. Your selection in this field should reflect the Bloom’s level of the current assessment.
  • Learning Objectives: What you enter in this field should reflect the specific educational goal of the current assessment. It is conventional that learning objective statements begin with “SWBAT” (Students Will Be Able To). For example, if an assessment asks the student to predict the output of a recursive code segment, then its Learning Objectives could be: “SWBAT follow the flow of recursive execution”.
  • Tags: In addition to Bloom’s Level and Learning Objectives, you may add arbitrary tags to an assessment. The existing tags, Content and Programming Language, are required. To add your own tags, click Add Tag and populate their names and values in the empty input boxes at the bottom.


Sometimes, an assessment requires external files to function correctly. For example, if you wish to include an image in an assessment’s instructions, your assessment would require the image to be present; if you have a custom grading script for an Advanced Code Test, your assessment would require the script to be present. The Files section allows you to specify the current assessment’s file dependencies such that if the assessment is ever distributed to students or other instructors, its dependencies are also included.

To mark a file to be included with the assessment, simply locate it in the file tree under Project files and tick the checkbox next to its name. Ticked files will appear under Additional content.

Preview type

The following preview options are available. They dictate the expected input format and whether a fully rendered preview pane appears below the student input. Markdown is useful if the student wants to enter text formatting commands.
Here is a reference for Markdown:

LaTeX is useful where you want students to enter mathematical formulae in their answers. Click here for information on LaTeX.

  • Plaintext - the student is expected to enter ordinary text, without support for markdown formatting. There is no preview window.
  • Plaintext + LaTeX - this expects plaintext to be entered, therefore no support for markdown with additional support for LaTeX commands. A preview pane is shown beneath so the student is able to see the rendered LaTeX output.
  • Markdown + LaTeX - this supports markdown input with LaTeX support. A preview pane is shown beneath so the student is able to see the rendered markdown and LaTeX output.

Completing a free text assessment

If One Attempt Only is enabled, students will only be able to submit their answer once. If this is not enabled them students will be able to revisit the question and edit their answer until they mark the unit as completed

Grading free text assessments

To review and grade answers given by student, select the student and a list of all the assessments in the unit are shown.

Free Text Grading

Free text assessments are identifiable from the icon


Click one line and you will then see the question asked of the student and the answer they submitted.

If the question was not set to Allow Partial Points, the teacher can select Correct or Incorrect

Partial points not allowed

If the question was set to use Allow Partial Points the teacher can select the points to give to the answer up to the maximum Points.

Partial points allowed

Comments can also be added and will be shown to the student when grades are released. The comment field supports LATex and markdown with a preview area below the text area to allow the grader review the input. The comment field will autoexpand as required

Using the < and > buttons at the top of the assessments grading dialog you can quickly navigate either to the same assessment for other students or to other assessments for the select student

Navigate assessments

Viewing graded free text assessments

For any free text assessments that have been graded by a teacher in a unit, you will see the points given and the field in the Correct column checked.