Peer review

Peer and self-assessment is an essential aspect of ‘assessment as learning’ (formative assessment). 

Peer-reviewed assessments involve students evaluating and providing feedback on their peers' work using clear assessing criteria that ideally are related to the course learning outcomes. 

The peer-review process typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Submission: Students submit their work, which can be essays, projects, presentations, or any other form of assignment. 
  2. Distribution: The unit convenor assigns submissions to peer assessors (usually done randomly with some sort of iLearn tool), ensuring anonymity. 
  3. Evaluation: Peers assess and evaluate the work based on predefined criteria, which can include content quality, creativity, organisation, and adherence to guidelines. Ideally, they are mapped to the course or unit learning outcomes. 
  4. Feedback: Peers provide constructive feedback to help the submitter improve their work. 
  5. Reflection: Submitters review the feedback received and reflect on their performance, identifying areas for improvement. 

Benefits of Peer-Reviewed Assessments 

  • Promoting Self-Regulated Learning
    Peer-reviewed assessments promote independent learning. Taking responsibility in evaluating peers’ work critically against marking criteria leads to increased self-awareness and self-improvement.
  • Enhanced Learning Engagement
    Peer-reviewed assessments can significantly boost student engagement. Having your work evaluated by your peers encourages you to put in more effort to produce high-quality assignments. Peer assessment not only improves student engagement but also encourages a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Reviewing your peers' work will help to encounter different perspectives and novel ideas, enriching your own learning experience.
  • Development of Critical Thinking Skills
    Students are required to analyse and evaluate their peers' work, leading to a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Peer-reviewed assessments are a valuable addition to the traditional assessment toolbox, offering benefits such as increased engagement, critical thinking development, reduced bias, and promotion of self-regulated learning. 

However, due to reliability and consistency problems, peer-assessed tasks should not be marked based on the student’s grading. If used as a graded assessment, the convenor/ tutor will have to do the final grading. The peer-review tasks should be used as a formative task that will provide a valuable exercise to enhance students’ learning, creating a dynamic and effective learning environment and promoting self-regulated learning. Convenors and tutors should also invest enough time in training students and establishing clear assessment criteria. 

Challenges and Considerations

While peer-reviewed assessments offer numerous benefits, they also present challenges that unit convenors should be aware of:

  1. Reliability and Consistency: Ensuring consistent and reliable evaluations across peer assessors can be challenging. To address this, clear assessment criteria and rubrics are essential.
  2. Training: Students may require training on how to provide constructive feedback and assess their peers' work effectively.
  3. Anonymity: Maintaining anonymity in peer assessments can be challenging in smaller classes or when assignments have a distinctive style. Educators should consider strategies to protect anonymity.
  4. Student Resistance: Some students may be resistant to the peer assessment process due to concerns about bias or perceived fairness. Effective communication and guidance can help alleviate these concerns.

Sounds all great - but how do I set it up in iLearn?

You can use either Workshop (ideally but a bit tricky to set up) or Turnitin PeerMark.

Setting up a peer-reviewed task with the Workshop tool

Workshop is a collaborative activity, which encourages student interaction. It is a good tool for achieving peer review and/or assessment. Projects within Workshop can be peer-graded, instructor-graded or a combination of both. Specific assessment criteria can be created to support the assessment feature of the workshop activity. Information on how to set up a workshop activity can be found under the university's staff page instructions here (see Workshops: creating a peer-review activity). If you need any help with setting up a peer-reviewed activity in Workshop, please contact