Apply Bonus or Penalty Points Automatically

You can give bonus points or apply penalties automatically to discourage random guessing, encourage students to complete their work early, give partial credit for attempting questions, or give extra credit for some questions.

Note To manually change a student's score, see Adjust or Override Scores. To give extensions or set up an automatic extension policy, see Extensions.

One of your challenges as an instructor is to motivate your students to learn. You want them to:

  • complete assignments as early as possible, while material is still fresh and they have time to ask you questions
  • think carefully about each question and not try to "game" the system by submitting random responses
  • go beyond the minimum requirements of the class and learn additional material or apply concepts in more sophisticated ways

Because students will change their behavior to get a better overall grade, just using WebAssign helps motivate your students to complete their homework. And implementing effective extension policies helps motivate your students to complete work on time.

But to go beyond that, you can also use conditional bonus or penalty points to motivate your students. With conditional points, you can easily:

  • provide bonuses for submitting work early
  • use penalties to discourage guessing
  • add extra credit questions that do not penalize incorrect answers
  • give partial credit for attempting questions

In the question details for any question, your students can see the exact bonuses or penalties that will be applied.

question score with a note explaining to the student the penalty that was applied

The automatic bonus or penalty is applied immediately when your students submit answers that meet the specified conditions.

Best Practice In the assignment instructions, tell your students that you are using conditional points and to click the question points to see specific information for each question. If you are not showing question points to your students, they can click Question Details instead.

These can all be implemented for anything from a single question part to an entire assignment by selecting the options you want in a simple user interface. With just a little more work, you can write your own conditional points formulas, using criteria like the time of submission or number of submissions, that specifically address your students' unique needs.

You can set conditional points from several locations in WebAssign, depending on your goal.

  • In the Assignment Editor or in the Assignment Templates Manager, you can set conditional points for the entire assignment (Assignment Settings) under Automatic Point Adjustments > Bonus or Penalty. These settings are applied automatically to questions when they are added to the assignment.
  • In the Assignment Editor, you can set conditional points for a question part, question, or question pool in the Bonus or Penalty column. To show this column, click Show Per-Question Settings and select Bonus or Penalty.
Best Practice Do not change assignments that your students are already working on. You are likely to cost your students points, submissions, or both. Instead, consider creating a copy of the scheduled assignment and making your changes to the copy.

If you must change a scheduled assignment, notify your students of the change and rescore the assignment. See Rescore Assignments.