Encourage an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect

Most students won't be familiar with peer review practice and might be unsure or concerned about what is involved and why you are implementing this. Some may initially think it is a way of the teacher easing the burden of providing feedback or indeed marking. Others might be concerned about whether they or others will have the ability to provide useful feedback. Still others might be concerned about the loss of their ideas to peers and about plagiarism. In peer review students become partners in assessment processes and this shift in power relations, with the teacher giving up some authority might not be welcomed by all. If peer review is to provide value there must be commitment from students and a willingness to collaborate. Hence academics wishing to introduce peer review should try to set out what it involves and why it is important.

Putting it into practice

  • Explain why peer review is important - how it enhances learning and develops expertise.
  • Discuss with students the merits of both producing feedback reviews for peers as well as receiving feedback reviews form multiple peers; better still, have students discuss this proposition in groups so that they identify the merits themselves.
  • Illustrate how peer review operates in professional practice and in life beyond college and university.
  • Highlight that the experience of producing reviews will help students to learn to judge the quality of their own work as they produce it.
  • Demonstrate how to give constructive feedback and show students examples of good and less good feedback comments before they begin reviewing.
  • Clarify that peer reviewing is not about criticising others' work (i..e. about finding fault or highlighting the negatives); rather it is about providing other perspectives and about making constructive comments. 
  • Encourage an atmosphere of collaborative learning by discussing the value of sharing the outcomes of feedback reviews.
  • Clarify that students will still learn even if they receive poor reviews
  • Allay any fears about plagiarism by emphasising that you see learning is a collaborative endeavour or by explaining how you have designed the task so that this is not an issue.
  • Make it clear that you are not asking students to mark peers' work or that if marking is involved that these marks will not count (or that you have thought deeply about the merits of students' allocating marks)
  • Clarify the teacher's role, for example, in providing feedback on the peer reviews - emphasise that this will help students calibrate and develop their own reviewing capability.
  • Facilitate an experience of peer review in class where comments are made openly and students reflect on their value. 
  • Invent your own ideas and induction activities to encourage an atmosphere of trust.



Guidelines for giving and receiving feedback. Produced by David Boud, UTS, Sydney pdf 


Making peer feedback work in three easy steps! A leaflet for staff on how to engage students in in-class peer feedback on assignments. Produced by the ASKe project at Oxford Brookes University. leaflet


Inform students about feedback and its many forms and values. Example leaflet used at the University of Strathclyde to re-orient students' conceptions of feedback. leaflet 


Run peer review face-to-face in class facilitated by the teacher to give an initial experience of its value. See this video entitled 'no one writes alone'.  Video