How can I use peer evaluation?

How does it align with the module learning outcomes? 

Undertaking peer evaluation can help students engage deeply with learning outcomes if they are operationalised in the marking criteria. Any module with a learning outcome involving community and collaboration should include some element of peer or group work. Skills of analytical and evaluative thinking can be facilitated by peer evaluation. Authenticity is increased, as peer evaluation is a skill in many workplaces and research environments.

Will it be formative or summative? If summative, how will I give opportunities for practice? 

Peer evaluation is more effective in formative situations where to shift the focus towards communication and away from individual grades.

Right or wrong-MCQ style answers are less appropriate for peer evaluation, especially online, as it gives students the impression they are doing the teacher’s job as admin assistants! However, going over mocks, practice exams, problem sheets or quizzes in class in groups can help students to develop the ability to peer-teach and explain answers to each other. See Generic feedback

Elicit frank, constructive feedback

  • Develop constructive question prompts which engage students with the criteria and give them licence to move beyond platitudes e.g. “How could […] be improved?” rather than “What went wrong with […]?”.
  • Encourage students to focus on content and higher level aspects of performance rather than language features. This can be discouraging for students with dyslexia or for students whose first language is not English.


When will it occur in the term/module?

Peer evaluation is best introduced at the beginning of a course of study, starting with a small piece of work, or a section of a larger piece of work.

Will I mark it too? How will I give feedback?

Peer evaluation works best when the student feels they can be honest and constructive. It is also difficult to grade the quality of comments, unless you are strictly adhering to their use of standard criteria. However, you could weight their participation in the process as a small percentage of the course to encourage engagement initially.

In discussion forums, the instructor can state that they will comment on the work if students engage in the peer activity first. Doing so can be more time consuming but these threads are usually more fun to read and can facilitate an online community that includes staff and students.

It tends to be poorly received if students have the impression that it is a substitute for assessor marking, so for the first time you try the activity at least, it is good to look at the types of feedback students are giving. In addition, looking at their feedback helps you to correct any peers who have given poor advice!


How can I address potential challenges? 

Do I need to make any modifications for accessibility/inclusivity? Can I build these into the design?

Using KEATS (Moodle Workshop) to allocate the work will make the process widely accessible and allows for anonymity.

Presentations cannot be anonymous  and ‘live’ feedback on presentations can be highly anxiety-inducing to students with less confidence and those on the autism spectrum. The phenomenon of face-saving in some cultures also needs to be taken into account in the honesty of feedback. This can be mitigated by putting students in small groups try smaller scaffolding exercise in smaller groups prior to a more formal presentation.

Consult with peers if one student has an MC or extension, and provide both students extra time to complete the peer evaluation.

Keep the allocation high enough to expose students to a variety of work, but not so high as to impose undue workload. Evaluating two or three peers will usually be sufficient (Cho and McArthur, 2010).  

Beforehand, build confidence in the validity of the process by giving students the opportunity to carry out guided marking of exemplars This also develops and calibrate students’ judgement, boosting their collective confidence in the process.

Do I need to make any modifications for large cohort sizes?

Extra time should be allowed for work to be submitted.

When using peer evaluation for presentations, smaller breakout groups in class can reduce the amount of presentations that need to be practiced.

How will I introduce it to the students?

As with all new forms of assessment, students must be given some practice and a rationale.  Emphasise the educational benefits are primarily to the provider of feedback might be more than that of the receiver (Cho and Cho, 2011).  This is because all feedback ultimately serves the purpose of developing students’ evaluative judgement, which are key skills in research environments and the world of work.