Peer Review

Canvas provides a system for students to review each other’s assignments.  It makes use of the same tools for detailed online annotation available through Speedgrader.  Instructors can assign students by name to review each other’s work, or have reviews randomly distributed with a single click.  This randomization process can be set up ahead of time, so it happens automatically after all original assignments have been submitted.  An instructor can tell which reviews have been completed from the Peer Review area of the assignment, and click to view them.

Use Cases

Evaluating others’ texts based on the standards they should be using as well can help students deepen their knowledge of how to apply them. Instructors can compare work submitted for Peer Review with final versions submitted for grading, and get a fuller sense of how students respond to feedback.  This might work in a number of settings, for example:

  • Students undertaking multi-step assignments such as extended research projects submit a draft for Peer Review.  Reviewers comment on quality and use of sources, general structure, and strength or weakness of argument.
  • Students in writing classes regularly critique each other’s work, commenting on grammar and syntax as well as rhetorical technique.
  • Students in Teacher Education classes can practice grading in an environment where instructors can easily review their work.

Peer Review Best Practices

Adapted from Instructure.

Prepare students for the process:

  • Students will need clear guidance about the tasks involved.  Consider providing a link to these Sample Peer Review Guidelines or developing something similar.
  • Students may be hesitant to find fault with a peer’s writing, and clear instructions for critique can help them overcome this hesitation. Consider providing a rubric to guide them.
  • The Peer Review area can be confusing to students unless they know precisely how to navigate.  The Peer Review instructions can clarify the process, and is worth discussing ahead of time.

Determine what your role will be in the process: Will you also grade the assignment submitted for peer review? Or is this a step in the writing process and you will grade only the final submission?

Awarding credit for the peer review activity: There is no way to directly assess the reviewer, so create a second assignment with no submission and explain that points will be awarded for completion of peer review.  Make it a Complete/Incomplete assignment for easy grading.

Important Notes:

  • “On Paper” and “No Submission” assignment types must be manually assigned, even though you can check the “Automatic” box when setting up the Peer Review.
  • If no “Assign reviews” date is specified when having Canvas automatically assign reviews,  the reviews are automatically assigned on the due date of the initial assignment.
  • Until the availability period for the assignment ends, the author can resubmit a file that will overwrite the original, potentially creating misalignment between the submission the reviewer works with and the submission the instructor sees from the original author.  To prevent this, you can end the availability period at the due date, only allow one submission, or grade the reviewer without checking if there is any misalignment with the author’s most recent submission.
  • If Peer Review is used for Group Assignments, by default the “Allow intra-group peer reviews” box is not selected, which means that group members will not be assigned to review each other’s work when automatically assigning reviews.

Peer Review Viewing and Editing Privileges:

  • Students can see peer reviewer comments even if assignment grades have not been posted.
  • Instructors cannot edit or delete student peer review comments.
  • Peer Reviewers cannot view comments by other reviewers, including those by TAs or instructors.
  • When Peer Reviews are anonymous:
    • The anonymous option hides the name of the reviewer from the author and the name of the author from the reviewer.
    • Canvas  DocViewer does not support anonymous comments, so it cannot be used for annotated feedback on assignments with anonymous Peer Reviews.
    • Those with grading privileges in the course can view the names of student reviewers in SpeedGrader and in the student submission page.  If anonymous grading is enabled in SpeedGrader, the names of both students will be hidden in SpeedGrader but not in the student submission page.