Peer review strategies

Peer review is a learning strategy by which students assess work by their peers and provide feedback to each other on the quality of their work. WebCampus peer review tools are integrated into Assignments and Discussions to enable student learning through peer review. This page discusses why to include peer review and shares some tips on how to implement peer review.

Why include peer review

Research on peer review shows it can be a powerful tool for enriching student cognition and developing critical thinking and meta-cognition (Lu & Law, 2012; Moore & Teather, 2013; Toppings, 1998):

  • Peer review involves cognitively demanding activities, including reviewing written work, identifying misconception or missing knowledge, summarizing, and giving feedback, all of which helps to consolidate knowledge and deepen understanding.
  • Peer review encourages active learning by engaging students in the feedback process rather than just passively receiving feedback from instructors. The peer review process provides opportunities for students to not only understand but also to apply knowledge.
  • Peer review builds collaboration skills. Through peer review students gain opportunities to practice communication and negotiation, how to give and accept criticism,  how to justify their own position, and how to reject suggestions diplomatically.
  • Peer review helps students in the affective domain of learning. Giving and receiving feedback, especially positive feedback, may promote motivation, self-confidence, and empathy for others.
  • Peer review can be combined with self-assessment and metacognition. In tandem with peer review students can be invited to self-reflect and self-assess their skills in development.

Tips on implementing peer review

The following are some general guidelines for effective instruction with peer review:

  • Align peer review to learning goals. Communicate clear objectives, rational, expectations, and criteria for acceptable work. Students should be clear about what the peer assessment will achieve, why they are doing it, how they will benefit from it, and what is expected from them.
  • Develop and clarify assessment criteria using rubrics and/or guidelines. Note that students are more motivated when they are the "stakeholders" and are included in the rubric creation process, when possible. You may also use checklists to help make students aware of the tasks and the timeline to complete them.
  • Provide training and examples to students. Students need practice to gain confidence in peer assessment and to become more competent at it. Model the act of reviewing and giving feedback and guide them through the process of sample assignments.
  • Allow adequate time and spacing for the peer review process. Observe and monitor the student process; coaching as necessary. Provide feedback or even a grades on the peer review process. Provide opportunities for students to apply feedback from their peers, as feedback is most useful when students make revisions to their work. It is also helpful to have students reflect on the feedback and revision process.
  • Peer review can be implemented in various contexts and disciplines, such as student presentations, projects, essays or reports, visual products, etc. For examples of peer review in various disciplines see McGill University, Examples of PA assignments.


Lu, J. & Law, N. (2012). Online peer assessment: effects of cognitive and affective feedback. Instructional Science. 40(2), 257-275.

Moore, C. & Teather, S. (2013). Engaging students in peer review: Feedback as learning. In Design, develop, evaluate: The core of the learning environment. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-8 February 2013. Perth: Murdoch University.

Topping, K. (1998). Peer assessment between students in colleges and universities. Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 249-276.