## WeBWorK Main Forum

### Re: unfactored low degree polynomial can slip through PolynomialFactors-Strict context undetected

by Danny Glin -
Number of replies: 0
Alex beat me to most of my comments on "what is considered factored".

In our department alone, there is disagreement on what the factored form of something like 2x^2+3x+1 should be.  One camp expects (2x+1)(x+1), while another expects 2(x+1/2)(x+1).

Regarding not giving away the number of factors in the correct answer, the solution I had in mind for that is something I'd like to see more generally:

For list-type answers, start the student with a single answer blank, but beside it have a (probably javascript) button that adds another blank.  Behind the scenes, compile these blanks into a list object, and pass it to the answer checker.

I have several uses for this:
1. I think it would be a nicer interface for any question where the answer is an unordered list of objects.
2. It could be used for factoring questions (where the button reads "add another factor").
3. The more advanced use I'd have for this is to handle unordered, paired answers.  For example, give the students a matrix and ask for the eigenvalues and corresponding eigenvectors.  Start the student with one pair of blanks: one for an eigenvalue and the next for the corresponding eigenvector(s).  The students can then add another set of eigenvector/eigenvalue blanks if there are additional eigenvectors.
Of course this is a solution to the student input challenges, which doesn't address the (much harder) problem of what to accept as an answer in our factoring discussion.