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How to Use the Essay Exam Activity

Some of Paradigm’s courseware includes essay exam activities. Essay activities provide response boxes with a text editor, and in some cases file upload options, to collect student work for instructor review and evaluation. These activities are not graded automatically by Cirrus, although they are included in the gradebook. Essays and files are collected through Cirrus, and grading rubrics are provided in the Instructor eResources to help instructors assess student performance on these activities.

Click here for student instructions on completing essay activities.

Click here for more information on blog activities in Seguin’s COMPUTER Concepts.

Essay Activity Components

Activity Name: The name indicates the course, chapter, and activity name. You can customize the title to suit your specific course by changing the Name text under the General tab of the Advanced Scheduling options. Read this for more information about how to change Advanced Scheduling options.

Activity Description: This description helps prepare students to complete the essay activity. You can modify and format the description by changing the Description text under the General tab of the Advanced Scheduling options. Read this for more information about how to change the Advanced Scheduling options.

Activity Information: Some activities also include an information section before the questions. These cannot be edited.

Essay Response Box: Students use this text box to compose and format their responses directly in their web browser. They can fill out the essay response box in addition to uploading files when file uploads are enabled.

A labeled screenshot that highlights the Toolbar Toggle button and the essay box.

File Uploads: Students are sometimes directed to create a file on their computer, such as a document, a presentation, a spreadsheet, or an image. You may need to provide additional instructions to students concerning which file format they should use.

How to Grade Essay Exams

Essay activities are open-ended questions that encourage students to do their own exploration and thinking, so they need to be graded by instructors. To evaluate and enter a grade for student work, follow the steps below.

STEP 1: Navigate to the specific activity.

For Paradigm Canvas users only

STEP 2: At the activity page, select the Student Attempts button.

STEP 3: Select the name of the student whose work you would like to grade.

STEP 4: At the Review page, the student responses are included below the essay question. The PTS field indicates the total number of points available to award the student, not the number of points they have received so far. (Before any student attempts have been made, you can adjust the total number of PTS to be awarded for each question by going into the Edit Exam options.) Notice that the Score field shows Not yet graded.

If the essay directs students to upload a file, you can open the file submission from this screen by selecting the link. The file may automatically download to your computer, depending on your browser’s default settings.

STEP 5: To begin scoring the student, select Make comment or override points. A new Manually grade question window will open.

STEP 6: Here, you can review the student’s answer (in this example, “This is a test essay response.”) and provide individualized feedback in the comment box. Use the grading rubrics in the Instructor eResources to help evaluate the student’s response. When you have tabulated the student’s score, enter a point value in the Points field. The total possible score is indicated (e.g. out of 1.00). It is possible to assign partial scores, such as .25.

STEP 7: You may need to scroll down to select the Save button to record the grade. A Changes saved confirmation message will appear before the window closes automatically.

At the Review page, the question has been updated to show the new grade as well as your comment.

STEP 8: Repeat Steps 5–7 for each question in the activity.

STEP 9: When you are finished, click the back arrow (next to the student’s name) to return to the Student Attempts page. The grade percentage will display under Grade. (In this example, the student received 1 point for the first question and 0 points for the second, resulting in 50% of the total possible score of 2.)

STEP 10: Repeat this process for each student.

Essay Activities in Marquee

Exploring Technology essay questions help students to dig deeper into information technology topics by encouraging students to try technology for themselves or think critically about the role technology plays in their lives. No file uploads are allowed.

Essay Activities in Seguin Concepts

Blog This! activities offer a chance for students to write about their experience or opinions on a topic. Depending on what you would prefer, students can submit blog text or URLs to their blogs in Cirrus. Click here for more information on blog activities. Please indicate to your students which option they should use. You can customize the description for the Blog This! activity by modifying these options. No file uploads are allowed.

Job Connect essay activities give job information to spark interest and invite exploration of computer-related careers. File uploads are allowed.

Let’s Explore activities ask students to dig deeper into the topic. The Let’s Explore activities require students to do research, conduct surveys, or complete a task, and then create a document, presentation, or worksheet in which they summarize their work. File uploads are allowed.

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