Peer Assessment

Using Student-to-Student Peer Assessment

Peer assessment describes a range of activities in which students evaluate and provide feedback on the work of their peers. Formative peer assessment involves feedback on drafts of work before the final product is submitted. Summative peer assessment includes evaluation of other students’ products or participation and/or contributions as part of a grade. Peer assessment is commonly used as a strategy for students to assess their fellow students’ contributions to group work, particularly valuable in team-based learning (learn more from team-based learning).

Formative and Summative Peer Assessment

Peer assessment can take many forms that can vary depending on the learning goals, the disciplinary context, and available technologies. Peer assessment is often characterized as taking either a formative or summative approach.

Formative Peer Assessment

  1. Students are introduced to the assignment and criteria for assessment
  2. Students are trained and given practice on how to assess and provide feedback
  3. Students complete and submit a draft
  4. Students assess the drafts of other students and give feedback
  5. Students reflect on the feedback received and revise their work for final submission
  6. Assignments are graded by the instructor
  7. Instructor reflects on the activity with the class

Summative Peer Assessment

  1. Students are introduced to the assignment and criteria for assessment
  2. Students are trained and given practice on how to use the grading rubric and provide feedback
  3. Students complete and submit a final assignment
  4. Students assess the assignments of 3 to 6 other students using the grading rubric and provide feedback
  5. Grades are determined for each student by taking the median score given by their peers
  6. Instructor and students reflect on the activity with an emphasis on reinforcing the learning that occurred in the giving of peer feedback

Key Questions to Answer in Peer Assessment

Before implementing peer assessment within your course, consider the following (modified from Gielen, 2010 and Topping, 1998).

  • Object of assessment – What will students produce? A paper, web page, poster, presentation, video, group project participation/contribution? What skills are students expected to develop and demonstrate as they produce this artifact?
  • Product of peer assessment – What is the output that students create while assessing their peers? Grades, rubrics, rankings, guided questions, qualitative feedback?
  • Formative or Summative – Will students provide both formative and summative feedback or just one?
  • Grading – How will students be graded on the assignment? Will peer assessment replace the instructor assessment (substitutional)? Will students receive marks or feedback from both peers and instructors (partially substitutional)? Or, will peer assessment provide additional feedback but be primarily assessed by the instructor for the final grade (supplementary)? Will you give students feedback or assign a grade, with or without evaluation, for their assessments of their peers?
  • Reviewer organization and directionality – How will peer assessors be assigned? (e.g. randomized, self-selected, instructor selected, small group, pair-matched). How many assessments will you require each student to complete? Will the reviews be anonymous or will there be dialogue between the peers reviewing each other?
  • Training – How experienced and confident are the students with peer assessment? How will students be trained to assess the work of their peers and provide feedback? At what point in the process does the training occur?

Types of Peer Assessment

  • Formative Feedback – Students provide formative and constructive feedback on drafts that students are able to revise before submitting a final product. This can be done as an in-class activity or using a variety of online tools, including Canvas. The final grade is given by the instructor or TA. This can also be done using a sequence of assignments. Students get peer feedback after each assignment and then are able to apply the feedback to each subsequent assignment with the goal of improving over time.
  • Peer grading – Students assign grades to their peers based on assessment criteria. Peer grading is typically done using online tools that randomly and anonymously distribute assignments for review by a specified number of other students. Students grade their peers using an online rubric and final scores for a particular assignment are typically tallied by taking the median value of all peer grades that assignment has received.
  • Peer assessment of group work participation – Grading group work can be a challenge for instructors because it is difficult to determine the contributions of each individual student. Many instructors use peer assessment to supplement instructor grades by adding a participation component to group assignments. Students give a participation score and overall comments for each group member using a rubric that is based on criteria that the instructor establishes. The instructor then uses these evaluations to give each student an overall participation grade for the assignment.

Explore Tools and Strategies

Enable students to provide feedback on another student’s assignment submission in Canvas.

Enhance the ability of student teams to collaborate effectively.

Peer Assessment (PA) Resources from McGill University website

Additional Resources

  • Baker, K. M. (2016). Peer review as a strategy for improving students’ writing process. Active Learning in Higher Education, 17(3), 179-192.
  • Carvalho, A. (2013). Students’ perceptions of fairness in peer assessment: evidence from a problem-based learning course. Teaching in Higher Education, 18 (5), 491-505.
  • Cho, K., & MacArthur, C. (2011). Learning by reviewing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(1), 73-84.
  • Gielen, S., Dochy, F., & Onghena, P. (2011). An inventory of peer assessment diversity. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(2), 137-155
  • Kaufman, J. and Schunn, C. (2011). Students’ perceptions about peer assessment for writing: their origin and impact on revision work. Instructional Science, 39(3), 387-406.
  • Liu, J. and 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. Teaching and Learning Forum 2013.
  • Nicol, D., Thomson, A., Breslin, C. (2013). Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(1), 102-122.
  • Potter, T., Englund, L., Charbonneau, J., MacLean, M. T., Newell, J., & Roll, I. (2017). ComPAIR: A New Online Tool Using Adaptive Comparative Judgment to Support Learning with Peer Feedback. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 5(2), 89-113.
  • Sluijsmans, D. M., Brand-Gruwel, S., & van Merriënboer, J. J. (2002). Peer assessment training in teacher education: Effects on performance and perceptions. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(5), 443-454.
  • Topping, K. (1998). Peer assessment between students in colleges and universities. Review of Educational Research, 68(3), 249-276.
  • Wride, M. (2017). Guide to peer-assessment. Academic Practice, University of Dublin Trinity College. Retrieved from

Peer Assessment, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Peer Assessment, is a derivative of Ideas and Strategies for Peer Assessments webpage developed by The University of British Columbia. (retrieved on May 13, 2020) from


The CELT Peer Assessment webpage is adapted with permission from the Arts ISIT at The University of British Columbia’s Ideas and Strategies for Peer Assessments webpage.