Creating Top Hat Word Answer Questions

How to use Top Hat Word Answer Questions to facilitate different pedagogical outcomes

Word Answer questions are designed for free text responses. For the question to be auto-graded, you’ll want to limit answers to one or two words. Alternatively, you can create a polling or survey question by not indicating a correct answer. The responses can be viewed as a bar graph or the popular word cloud. There are specific options and settings that can affect the outcome of the interaction in the classroom. This document will present the options and clarify the outcomes that they may facilitate.


Word Question Example

Correct Answers

If you are identifying correct answers, enter any and all answers that will be considered correct. In the example above, you will see that "Understand" and "Understanding" are both entered to make sure students get credit for either answer. If you are using this for a poll or survey, leave the Correct Answers section empty.

To specify whether answers are case sensitive, select the "Correct answers are case sensitive" box.

Assign Grades

If you wish you assign a grade to the response, select "Assign Grade."

Grading options allow you to assign points for both getting a correct answer and/or for participating in the question. Note: grading is not possible when a question is designated as anonymous.

Correctness: There may be times when you want to assign points for correctness alone. If you are presenting a large number of questions, you might need to assign participation points to all questions.

Participation: There may also be times when you want to assign participation points alone. If you want to measure the level of understanding among all students and don't care whether they get the correct answer but want to know that each person responded, participation points can do just that.

Both: There may be times when you want to provide points for both correctness and participation. If you want to encourage students to try and/or ensure that each student is participating, you can split points between both. The default value is .5 points for getting the answer correct and .5 points for participating in answering the question.

Present Options


This option will attach a timer of a designated length to the question, which will begin counting down when the question is presented. Students must submit their responses before the time elapses and the question closes. Note: Be aware this option may create inequity for those requiring more time than is allowed.

Group question

Selecting this option will prompt students to respond to the question as a group instead of individually. To use this option, You will need to set up groups in Top Hat prior to class for this feature to work. When a group question is presented, one student in the group responds on behalf of all the students in their group. 

Assign Options

This feature is intended for situations in which you want to have students access your content outside of the class. You can assign a question to students AFTER you present it to students in class if you want them to be able to review the results of the question. You can provide an explanation for the correct answer to students after they respond to the question. Hints and explanations will not be displayed to students in the class presentation of the question. 

Advanced Options

Anonymous answers

This option will fully anonymize the question by only recording aggregate response totals. No response data from the question will be tracked to the course Gradebook, meaning students' individual responses to the question will never be on record. This option is recommended for questions dealing with potentially sensitive or polarizing subject matter. Selecting this option will also mean that no participation points can be assigned either. 

Note: When selected, the word "Anonymous" will be displayed in the top right corner to let students know that the results are, indeed, anonymous. 

Word Cloud

One of the great features available with word answer questions is the ability to view student submissions as a word cloud in class. For more on this great option, please see here: Professor: Viewing the Word Cloud for Word Answer Questions.

Please note that in the interest of preserving the clarity of the word cloud, the following words are currently excluded: the, be, too, of, and, a, in, that, have, I, it, for, not, on, with, he, as, you, do, at, as well as words that are longer than 80 characters. This list may be periodically updated, however. 

Keywordstop hat, word, options, design, outcomes, pedagogyDoc ID132816
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2023-11-15 15:06:30Updated2024-04-16 09:10:06
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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