The Punnett square is a classic genetics diagram used to look at hereditary traits as they pass down from parent to offspring.  For science teachers looking to give formative assessments for a genetics unit, this type of diagram is essential for assessing student understanding. Instructors can create autograding Punnett square questions within Edulastic by using the Expression Evaluator TEI.

Here we’ll show you how to square away your Punnett square questions. Check out this 3 question Punnett square assessment preview to see what we are working towards. Once you begin creating your own Punnett square questions, you’ll be able to assess student understanding and save time grading Punnett square assignments.


Method 1: Express Expression Evaluator TEI

Start by Selecting the Expression Evaluator TEI

Expression Evaluator TEI

To begin your Punnett square question,  begin a new assessment, then create a new question, and finally, select the Expression Evaluator from the Math TEI menu.

Once you have the Expression Evaluator question type open, use the Text Editor to add the question stem and insert a table below the text. Once you click on the table button, a window will appear and will ask you to choose the dimensions of the table. Set up the table dimensions to reflect the scope of the problem. For this problem we will be assessing the cross of a single allele. I have included a three by three grid to represent the space needed to create the associated Punnett square.


Set Up the Punnett Square

Time to fill in the Punnett square. Add the problem parameters to the table to reflect the problem description. I put the gene make-up for each plant on the outsides of the grid.

Use the “Insert Maple Symbolic” button in the lower left corner of the Text Editor to insert answer entry boxes within the desired locations of the Punnett Square grid. For this example problem, I have inserted one answer entry box in the four lower right cells within the table.

Now your table looks like a Punnett Square! You can give yourself a pat on the back, but know you aren’t quite done yet. It’s time to enter the appropriate answers for each cell, which will allow the question item to grade itself.


Establish Variables & Answers

The next step is to insert the answer selections into the “Allowed Variables” box. For this sample question, students will need to access both capital and lowercase “g” to properly respond to the question. Enter “G,g” into the “Allowed Variables” box to add those variables to the expression menu. Note: The comma separates each option, thereby creating a separate button for “G” and “g”.

Now you’ll enter the answer choices. Take a look at the area that says “Correct Answer.” Select the blue button that has the square root of x to open up the expression evaluator menu and to enter the correct answer option.  You will see the two new options you just established: “G” and “g” as buttons in the menu. Use the menu buttons to enter the correct answer. Note: you will not be able to enter letters into the answer if you did not include them as button options earlier.


Once you have the answer option, you can select “Save” to close the window and then click on the green “Save Answer” button to save the answer.

If you want to enter additional options you can click the blue “+” button in the “Correct Answer” area to add additional options. This will inform the Edulastic autograde system that there are additional correct entries. If the answer order doesn’t matter, you’ll want to add and save each of the additional possibilities.

Repeat the process outlined above to set the answers for each answer entry boxes included in the question.

Review and Save

Finally, when all the answers for the Punnett square are set to go, take a second look at the problem to check for typos and accuracy. If everything looks good from the back end, preview the assessment question to see how it looks to the student. Once you approve of how everything looks, save your assessment, link it to the appropriate standard, and it will be added to your assessment!


Method 2: Drag & Drop TEI

Another interactive way to create Punnett Squares in Edulastic is with the Drag and Drop Question Type!

Punnett Square Drag & Drop Example
How to Create a Drag & Drop Punnett: Step by Step

To create a Drag and Drop Punnett Square Question:

  1. Open the Drag and Drop Question Type under “Create a new question”
  2. Enter your question text in the “Question” section
  3. Upload the Punnett square you want students to fill out as a “background image”
  4. Enter the potential allele combinations for students to select from as “Drag and Drop Values”
  5. Drag and drop the correct answers to the appropriate locations
  6. Click Save! You’re done!

If you’re having trouble with creating your Drag & Drop, check out this tutorial on how to create one!

Helpful Teacher Tips and Tricks:

  1. When creating an assessment question or assessment in Edulastic, make sure you hit save periodically so you don’t accidentally lose your work!
  2. Use the “Duplicate” button to replicate your question so you can easily create additional similarly-framed questions. Save yourself time and get started with these Punnett square questions.

Have any questions? Have you come up with a useful way to use Edulastic question types for science teaching? Send us a message on Twitter(@Edulastic) or Facebook.