Creating a Peer Review Assignment

From Abstract to Concrete: Creating a Peer Review Assignment

If your course analysis and planning revealed the need for an assignment that includes peer review, now it is time to design that assignment. This resource will guide you in creating the peer review components of an assignment. It includes guidance for describing the assignment, clarifying expectations related to peer review, and how to provide feedback. Examples from a course that used peer review are included.

Any assignment design should include:

  • A clear description of the assignment
  • Learning outcomes
  • Evaluation breakdown and criteria
  • An outline of what is expected of students
  • A rubric or questions and criteria to consider when reviewing a peer’s work
  • Procedural or technical information needed to complete the assignment


The example content on this page under the Show/Hide links is from a first year Folklore course.

Information That Goes in the Course Syllabus

Below are items to consider including in your course syllabus. This information may be dispersed among pages such as the “Course Evaluation” page and the “Course Format and Expectations” page.

Assignment description Evaluation information
  • General information about the assignment — specific information may go in the module
  • Assignment type: essay, presentation, etc.
  • Associated learning outcomes
  • Evaluation breakdown — include marks for:
    • participation in peer review
    • peer ratings
    • instructor grading
  • A grading rubric
About peer review How to use peerScholar
  • A description or details for each phase of the peer review process
  • Tips on how to critique a peer’s work
  • Tips on how to provide effective feedback to a peer
  • When using a new technology in a course, it is important for students to have good instructions on how to use the tool or app.
Show/Hide excerpt from a Course Evaluation page

Short Essays

There are three (3) short essays that will go through the peer review process—each essay will be worth 20%.

Part of your grade will be based on your work within the peer review process. Learning to offer great peer feedback is a skill that requires practice, and can be very rewarding for all involved. Learning to receive peer feedback and use it effectively can help you improve your work in this course and future courses. To get the most out of this peer review process, you need to make each draft a complete, full-length essay with a controlling idea, organization, and conclusion.

For each short essay you will:

  1. Submit a draft, by the due date, for your peers to review (1%)
  2. Review the work of two of your peers and provide feedback that they can use to improve their essay (2%)
  3. Reflect on your peers’ feedback of your work and revise your draft using feedback from your peers and your own reflections (1%)
  4. Revise your draft using feedback from your peers and your own reflections and submit a final version of your essay for your instructor (16%)
Show/Hide sample information about how to provide feedback

How to Provide Feedback

Think about how to share written feedback in a constructive way. Read the papers of each of your group members and provide feedback that they can use to improve their paper. An effective peer review includes the following:

  • general comments about the paper;
  • specific descriptions of what you liked / didn’t like or what was effective / ineffective; and
  • specific advice about what can be improved.

The following statements stems will help you respond to your peers:

  • “I’d like to hear more about…”
  • “This is what I find interesting…”

And, as always, think about the questions:

  • “What surprised me?”
  • “What intrigued me?”
  • “What disturbed me?”

Additional Tips

  • Don’t withhold constructive feedback about areas of improvement.
  • Pay attention to the language used – positive and constructive versus judgemental.
  • Focus on the strengths and weakness of the individual’s work, not the individual themselves or their personality.
  • Be specific.
  • If possible, begin and end with positive comments, include areas for improvement in the middle.
  • Be realistic — are the suggested changes doable within the content of the assignment?
  • Present your own thoughts on your peer’s work versus stating your suggested changes as facts.

When providing feedback via comments, be sure that it has the right level of detail and that it is clear and states your objective opinion. If feedback is excessively brief or vague, excessively detailed, or subjective rather than objective, it becomes about personal taste and preference and may be confusing, off-putting or difficult to use.

Show/Hide sample instructions for how to use peerScholar

Peer Review Using peerScholar

When your assignment draft is complete you will use peerScholar to complete the peer review process.

Peer review has three phases in peerScholar:

  1. Create — submit your work for your peers to review
  2. Assess — review your peer’s assignment and provide feedback to your to them
  3. Reflect
    1. review feedback that your peers provided to you
    2. carefully consider how you would like to incorporate the feedback
    3. revise your essay and resubmit it for your instructor


Submit your assignment via peerScholar by the due date provided in the course schedule. Your assignment will be available to your peers for review when the Create phase is closed and the Assess phase begins.

Submission Steps:

  1. On the page “Short Essay: Peer Review Phase 1” click the link “peerScholar”.
  2. Once peerScholar opens, select the “Create” link.
  3. Copy and paste your essay into the compose window, or attach a file.
  4. Save your work.
  5. Select “Preview” to see what your saved essay will look like when you submit it.


Now it is time to review essays from two of your peers and provide feedback to them. Your peers will do the same for you! Feedback will be available when the Assess phase is closed and the Reflect phase begins.

Steps to provide feedback to your peers:

  1. On the page “Short Essay: Peer Review Phase 2” click the link “peerScholar”.
  2. Once peerScholar opens, select the “Assess” link.
  3. Carefully read the work of each or your peers and provide them with feedback using the inline comments tool and by answering the questions provided.


Review the feedback you received from your peers on your work and think critically about it to decide how you want to incorporate their feedback. Then, revise your essay and resubmit for your instructor.

Steps to reflect on your peers’ feedback and to resubmit your essay:

  1. On the page “Short Essay: Peer Review Phase 1” click the link “peerScholar”.
  2. Once peerScholar opens, select the “Reflect” link.
  3. Carefully read the feedback that each peer provided. Decide on how you want to incorporate the feedback.
  4. Toggle to the Revision screen to see you a copy of your original composition. Revise your essay and resubmit it to peerScholar for your instructor to grade. You may also upload a revised document.


Where possible, include a rubric in a peer review assignment. The rubric will benefit instructors when they configure the assignment and create assessments to use during the peer review, it will benefit students when they complete the assignment, and it will benefit all of those involved in evaluating and providing feedback.

Educational Benefits of Using a Rubric

  • Students can score their peer’s work using the rubric
  • A rubric can act as a guide in a student’s exploration of their peer’s work
  • Using a rubric encourages a discovery mind set
  • Students can identify examples of what good work looks like and what poor work looks like
  • A good reason for using a rubric when including peer review mark in a student’s overall grade for the assignment:
    • If you average five or more peer-assessments that took place based on a rubric, the average score tends to be a very good estimate of the student’s skill

Making the Rubric Available to Students

Make sure a copy of the rubric is available in Brightspace and peerScholar:

  1. Attach a rubric as part of the assignment details in the course syllabus
  2. In the Create phase of peerScholar, attach a rubric and refer to the attached rubric in the instructions

Information That Goes in a Module

You can add specific information about an assignment, phase, or deliverable directly in your module or weekly content. Information can include:

  • Descriptions and details about a specific topic or deliverable
  • Required readings and resources
  • Value for the deliverable
  • Link to launch the application, if applicable
Show/Hide a sample section of weekly overview page

Note: The title of the short essay has been changed and links are inactive.

Week 3: Overview

Short Essay: “Title TBD” (20%)

If you haven’t started already, it’s time to start your Short Essay: “Title TBD”.


Read the story “Title TBD”, and watch the two videos of the stories being told. After carefully reading the tale, and watching the videos, please consider the following questions:

  1. What “life lessons” are emphasized in the tale?
  2. How might these tales reflect the values and beliefs of members of Newfoundland outport communities in the first half of the 20th century?
  3. What “real world” lessons are highlighted through this tale?
  4. Have you heard/seen/read alternate versions of this tale?
  5. What does each version of the story emphasize? (Compare and contrast)

When your draft version of your essay is complete, submit it via peerScholar for your peers to review.

See the course evaluation page for general information about Short Essays and about peer review. See the course schedule for dues dates.

Resource created by Denise C.