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Preparing students for peer review

Using peer review activities in a course can be a powerful contributor to effective learning by supporting collaboration, understanding and student motivation. Peer review can be a useful way to increase the amount and quality of feedback students receive. It can induct students into the standards of academic engagement that are expected and, as we know, expectations have a significant impact on student learning (Hattie, 2012).

Preparing students to participate effectively in peer review activities can help to minimise issues that may arise, enhance the potential benefits from the experience as well as build students’ capacity for future collaborative learning activities.

It can be daunting for students to review the work of their peers. How can you support them to do this effectively?

Motivate students by highlighting why they are doing peer review activities. Benefits can include:

  • building student knowledge of subject matter through active involvement 
  • improving the quality of final work and future tasks
  • connecting peers in the process of learning
  • developing skills relevant to future careers, such as critical and analytical thinking, collaboration and peer review of scholarly articles. 

Set student expectations and outcomes for the activity  

  • Link the activity with the course learning outcomes.
  • Familiarise students with the ‘how’ and ‘when’. Provide clear instructions and deadlines, and demonstrate digital tools that students will engage with.
  • Communicate the technical settings that apply to the activity, such as anonymity. Online tools, such as FeedbackFruits, enable anonymous peer feedback between students but teachers can identify students.
  • Specify the type of feedback that is sought and its purpose. Provide guiding questions or criteria; a rubric is ideal. Ask students to focus on the quality of the thinking rather than superficial editing.
  • Include a student reflection activity about the peer review process after students have given and received feedback.

Provide examples and opportunities for students to practice giving effective feedback

Possible activities: 

  • Poll students anonymously on their experiences of receiving feedback, the purpose of feedback and how to receive feedback. Discuss effective feedback practice. With the students, generate a list of dos and don’ts for peer review.
  • Provide samples of useful and not so useful feedback comments.
  • Identify elements of effective feedback – positive, clear, specific, relevant, actionable, objective.
  • Provide example tasks and rubrics for student practice in groups.

FeedbackFruits is an online teaching tool that facilitates peer review and is being investigated by the ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) through a Proof of Concept project across a few courses in 2022. Michael Ellwood is using peer feedback in FeedbackFruits with his large first year class in the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences to achieve some of these outcomes.

Contact the CLT Education Design Team at for resources to support peer review.

April 2022

ANU Coffee course, ‘Peer assessment and feedback
FeedbackFruits, Foster lifelong learning with peer feedback
Hattie, J., Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, Routledge, 2012

Melinda Drummond is a member of the Education Design team at the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT)