5. Problems and Exercises


The Open edX Studio tool allows you to add interactive, automatically graded problems (or exercises) to your course content.

  • The platform offers a wide variety of problem types: everything from basic multiple-choice problems, reminiscent of a paper-based classroom, and drag-and-drop exercises to advanced exercise environments like circuits simulators.Basically, there are three types of problems:
  • Basic Problems
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Problems
  • Open Response Assessments

The possibilities in terms of structuring problem content are endless.

  • All of the problems have customizable features. As an instructor, you might want to give learners multiple attempts to submit their responses, show them the answers –or hints– after a certain period of time.
  • You can also create Peer Assessment (Open Response Assessment) problems where students can submit responses to questions that may not have definite answers. Learners and their peers can then compare the response to a rubric that you create.
  • Exercises interspersed into the content of the course are intended to promote active engagement. Exercises included on learning sequences enable learners to apply their knowledge before proceeding to other material.These exercises can be brief, ungraded questions. Instant feedback will give the learners confidence that they have understood the course material.

Studies have shown that this kind of rapid feedback has a significant and positive effect on learners’ performance compared to delayed feedback.

Problems with a limited set of answers can serve as checks of learner comprehension.

Problems with a wide range of possible answers discourage random guessing but allow learners to attempt problems repeatedly until they get they right answer. We encourage you to set the number of attempts to a large number to allow learners to address their misconceptions.


When you select the following problem types, the Simple Editor opens with a preformatted example:

  • Checkbox Problem: Learners select one or more options from a list of possible answers.
  • Dropdown Problem: Learners select one answer from a dropdown list.
  • Multiple Choice Problem: Learners select one answer from a list of choices that appear directly below the question.
  • Numerical Input Problem: Learners are required to enter answers that include only integers, fractions, and a few common constants and operators.
  • Text Input Problem: Learners enter a short text-based answer to a question.

The following problem templates open in the Advanced Editor:

  • Circuit Schematic Builder Problem: Learners create and modify circuits on an interactive grid and submit computer-generated analyses of the circuits for grading.
  • Custom JavaScript Problem: Instructors can create a custom problem or tool that uses JavaScript.
  • Drag and Drop Problem: Learners are required to drag text or objects to a specific location on an image.
  • Image Mapped Input Problem: Learners are required to select a specific location on an image.
  • Math Expression Input Problems: Learners are required to enter a mathematical expression as text, such as e=m*c^2.
  • Problem with Adaptive Hint: Learners receive feedback or hints based on their responses. Problems with adaptive hints can be text input or multiple-choice.We suggest that you identify mistakes that reveal common misconceptions (for example, many students may be off by a factor of 100 when calculating percentages) and designing hints to address that particular issue.
  • Problem Written in LaTeX: Instructors are able to convert problems written in LaTeX into edX’s format. However, this problem type is a prototype, and is not supported.
  • Write-Your-Own-Grader Problem. Instructors can use an embedded Python script to evaluate learners’ responses. These problems can be of any type.

Some courses allot time to include more manual feedback based on the performance of their learners. Many students have expressed appreciation for instructors who provide office hours in the course discussions or quick tutorial videos on tough problems.

Entrance Exams

The Open edX platform allows course teams to create entrance exams. Learners must pass the entrance exam before participating in the course. This feature must be enabled through the code console.