Peer assessment

Peer assessment or peer review provides a structured learning process for students to critique and provide feedback to each other on their work. It helps students develop lifelong skills in assessing and providing feedback to others, and also equips them with skills to self-assess and improve their own work. 

If you are interested in facilitating a team member evaluation process for group projects, see the page on Teaching students to evaluate each other.

Why use peer assessment? 

Peer assessment can: 

  • Empower students to take responsibility for and manage their own learning. 
  • Enable students to learn to assess and give others constructive feedback to develop lifelong assessment skills. 
  • Enhance students' learning through knowledge diffusion and exchange of ideas. 
  • Motivate students to engage with course material more deeply. 

Considerations for using peer assessment 

  • Let students know the rationale for doing peer review. Explain the expectations and benefits of engaging in a peer review process. 
  • Consider having students evaluate anonymous assignments for more objective feedback. 
  • Be prepared to give feedback on students’ feedback to each other. Display some examples of feedback of varying quality and discuss which kind of feedback is useful and why. 
  • Give clear directions and time limits for in-class peer review sessions and set defined deadlines for out-of-class peer review assignments. 
  • Listen to group feedback discussions and provide guidance and input when necessary. 
  • Student familiarity and ownership of criteria tend to enhance peer assessment validity, so involve students in a discussion of the criteria used. Consider involving students in developing an assessment rubric. 

Getting started with peer assessment 

  • Identify assignments or activities for which students might benefit from peer feedback. 
  • Consider breaking a larger assignment into smaller pieces and incorporating peer assessment opportunities at each stage. For example, assignment outline, first draft, second draft, etc. 
  • Design guidelines or  rubrics  with clearly defined tasks for the reviewer. 
  • Introduce rubrics through learning exercises to ensure students have the ability to apply the rubric effectively. 
  • Determine whether peer review activities will be conducted as in-class or out-of-class assignments. For out-of-class assignments, peer assessments can be facilitated through Canvas using tools such as FeedbackFruits peer review and group member evaluation, Canvas peer review assignment, or Turnitin. See the Comparison of peer evaluation tools to learn more and/or set up a consultation by contacting CTI." 
  • Help students learn to carry out peer assessment by modeling appropriate, constructive criticism and descriptive feedback through your own comments on student work and well-constructed rubrics. 
  • Incorporate small feedback groups where written comments on assignments can be explained and discussed with the receiver.