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Peer feedback is a guided process through which students provide each other with constructive comments on works-in-progress, drafts or finalised assessments. Peer assessment additionally involves students marking each others’ formative or summative work as part of the assessment process. In all forms of peer feedback and assessment, students can learn just as much from providing feedback as they do from receiving it.

Advantages of Peer Feedback and Assessment 

  • Gives students greater insight into the marking/feedback process 
  • Encourages a shared understanding of marking criteria 
  • Helps to identify common mistakes and misunderstandings 
  • Promotes meta-cognitive and other personal and professional transferable skills 
  • Allows comments from peers at a similar stage in their learning (sometimes more understandable than more advanced language used by markers)
  • Increases quantity and variety of feedback 
  • Encourages critical reading and text analysis in providing feedback 
  • Encourages students to see reviewing their work as an active and self-regulatory process 

General Good Practice in Peer Feedback and Assessment

  • Communicate the purpose of peer feedback and/or assessment (referring to the appropriate advantages above).
  • Explain the marking criteria, ideally using one or two exemplars to demonstrate how the criteria are applied (see Marking Criteria Literacy).
  • Discuss what good feedback looks like, explaining the marking criteria as well as good practice in giving feedback (see Effective Feedback). 
  • Establish working guidelines (rules, etiquette) and communicate these to the students beforehand. Depending on your group, you may be able to come up with negotiated guidelines that are student-led. 
  • Give clear instructions regarding every step of the process (e.g. how to use the peer feedback software; how feedback will work with paper copies in a face-to-face session; etc.).
  • Feedback and assessments processes should guide students to reflect on what they have learned from the experience and how they will apply it in their future learning and assessments.

Peer Feedback Methods

Peer feedback can take many forms, including:

  • In an in-person session, students swap paper copies, complete the marking proforma, discuss the feedback with their partners, and record their plans for improvements.
  • Students swap assessments online and use the proforma to provide each other with feedback, then discuss the feedback (in-person or online) and make note of what they have learnt. This process can be streamlined and enhanced using peerScholar, which is built into Learn Ultra – for details see our Sharepoint guide.
  • Students anonymously swap assessments online and use the proforma to provide each other with feedback; they then record their plans to improve the assessment.
  • Any of the methods above, in a small group or repeated with another pair of students. peerScholar also supports anonymous peer feedback, and group and tutor feedback.

In all cases, the marker provides support as well (for example: answering questions and providing clarification throughout an in-person session; providing an asynchronous way to answer questions during the online exercises; recapping the exercise once complete, including talking through how the marking criteria apply to the assessment in question).

Good Practice in Peer Formative Assessment

  • For students’ first experience with peer assessment, it may be useful for everyone to complete the same formative assessment, ideally one that will prepare them to succeed in the summative without directly feeding into it. This will allow students to better compare their work with that of others, and the lecturer to provide exemplars and model feedback, without the potential for collusion.
  • Subsequent peer formative assessments could include: drafts of summatives (where students’ work is sufficiently differentiated so that they will not worry about others stealing their ideas); presentations or posters about a specific topic or about their summative; for group projects, midway evaluation of each other; etc.
  • Elements of lecturer/tutor feedback should be included as well, whether in direct relation to the peer-assessed formative, or in other ways throughout the module.

Good Practice in Peer Summative Assessment

  • Peer summative marks will not typically comprise the whole mark, but can represent a portion of it.
  • Peer summative marking can include: assessment mark; mark given for contribution to group assessment; mark received for completing marking of peers’ summatives.
  • Make it clear to students how their engagement with peer assessment will affect their work. Specify what proportion of peers’ marks will comprise their summative mark and other details (such as marks for providing feedback to others).
  • Communicate the process for moderation of peer marks early on so that students are confident in the integrity of the marking.

Further Reading

Brkić, L. et al. (2024) Peer assessment methodology of open-ended assignments: Insights from a two-year case study within a university course using novel open source system. Computers & Education, 213.

Double, K.S. et al. (2020) The Impact of Peer Assessment on Academic Performance: A Meta-analysis of Control Group Studies. Educational Psychology Review 32, 481–509.

Rodríguez M.F. et al. (2022) Using scaffolded feedforward and peer feedback to improve problem-based learning in large classes. Computers & Education. 182.

Van der Meer, J. & Scott, S. (2013) Including everyone : a peer learning program that works for under-represented minorities? The international journal of the first year in higher education. 4:85–94.

Wanner, T. & Palmer, E. (2018) Formative self-and peer assessment for improved student learning: the crucial factors of design, teacher participation and feedback, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43:7, 1032-1047.