Peer Review


Peer Review

'The essence of peer review is that the assignments will be evaluated by several persons, creating more extensive feedback than a teacher normally has time to produce. The students will be more familiar with the evaluation process and criteria and therefore trained in producing better assignments themselves.


See the toolbox entry on peer review as a teaching activity for more general information.

Creating a rubric for peer review

Students benefit a lot from a deeper understanding of the criteria their teacher evaluate them by. You can help them in this by asking them to evaluate from the same criteria and one of the most effective techniques to do this is to provide a rubric. In this way you can help students, who may be novices in the field to give valid feedback to their peers and avoid evaluation comments like "It looks OK to me". You want students to find strengths or positive features in their peers' work, but you need to help them to be as specific as possible regarding strengths and weaknesses.

Making a good rubric is not trivial – you must be very clear in your description of what a good performance is. Students need to know what good work should look like, and have clear and specific success criteria against which they can assess the work of their peers.

The process includes these steps:

  • Develop your criteria (“What do I want students to know and be able to do?)
  • Select the different levels of achievement (e.g. unsatisfactory, novice, proficient, advanced…)
  • Describe what each level would look like for the different criteria (and make sure your expectations increase evenly across each level)

It can be an interesting learning activity to involve students in a discussion of the criteria used in the rubric, before the peer-review activity. Students' familiarity and ownership of criteria tend to enhance peer assessment validity.

Peer-review works best if the students are used to it, therefore if they only submit one large assignment in your course, you can consider breaking it into smaller pieces and incorporating peer review opportunities at each stage. For example, assignment outline, first draft, etc.

As supplement to the rubric criteria you can additionally ask the students to:

  • explain what they liked best or were most persuaded by
  • ask three questions they have about a topic
  • suggest one place the peer could provide more detail
  • identify key elements important to the teacher: "You have no direct quotations," "You use passive voice". With additional preparation, many students can identify the most powerful/direct and the least powerful/direct sentences they read
  • make paired comments about particular criteria: "You're best at ___ here; you're least good at ___ here"
  • make suggestions to improve particular elements: "For better understanding, try ___." If you know likely traps students may fall into with this project, you can demonstrate what those are and ask students to check each other's work for exactly those possible mistakes

TIP: Another way to guide the students in doing the review is to display some examples of feedback of varying quality in class and discuss which kind of feedback is useful and why.  

TIP: It is a very good idea to set defined deadlines for peer review assignments.

Find more information

Panadero, E., & Jonsson, A. (2013). The use of scoring rubrics for formative assessment purposes revisited: A review. Educational Research Review, 9, 129–144. 

La Salle University has a great guide on creating rubrics.

Read Christina Moore's post on Magna Publication's Faculty Focus website about instructing students to frame the type of feedback they need to improve their work (not using rubrics).