How to Teach Peer Feedback

Students can often feel under prepared or under qualified to be giving their peers feedback when in reality they are often as accurate as their teachers. Just read the research! To help students understand their value and capabilities as  peer reviewers it takes practice and a scaffolding.

We’ve written before about different ways to introduce peer feedback to your students including exemplars and the mad-libs approach to feedback. Now we are bringing you a 2 activity lesson plan to introduce peer review to your students! A huge thank you to Peergrade teacher Colin Browne, a university professor, for inspiring this blog post and sharing his lesson plans with us.

Exemplar Activity

Exemplar activities have been one of our favorite activities for teaching and calibrating student feedback. For students exemplars is practice in giving feedback without the pressure of having their own work assessed. It also helps students to familiarize themselves with the assessment criteria before starting to work on their own assignment. Exemplar activities are equally important for teachers as it gives you the opportunity to evaluate students feedback skills. You’ll be able to assess whether students understand the assessment criteria and how much they differ on their responses.

The key to the exemplar activity is providing all students with the same assignment to submit. Learn more about how to set up a exemplar activity in our post about them.

Practice Activity

Now students will start dipping their toe into the water of peer review with a low barrier assignment. This practice activity is one more round of practice for students in giving feedback except this time students will produce their own work for review. Colin uses an easy straight-forward writing assignment which asks students to describe the room they are in. While the assignment prompt seems simple the rubric engages students in higher order thinking including critical thinking and reflection.

Some of the questions on the rubric could include:

  • What did you write in your description that you classmate did not have in theirs?
  • What did your classmate write in their description that you did not have in yours?
  • What is 1 thing your classmate could improve upon?

Colin mentioned that his students started to have a lightbulb moment when reviewing the practice activity. It dawned on students that their audience was no longer just their teacher but their peers:

“The very valuable point is that when students begin to read other students’ work, they realize that their own work will be read by others. They begin to lose the cloak of peer invisibility which many students wear in the classroom. Often, when students write for the classroom, they have an expected readership of one, the teacher. But when they begin reviewing other students’ work in Peergrade, they realize that they themselves will also have their own work reviewed, their work will become public, exposed to many eyes, especially the eyes of their peers. The product of their effort will be seen by meaningful others.”

Teaching the Logistics of Peergrade

The logistics of giving peer feedback in Peergrade can be just as overwhelming to students as giving feedback. The exemplar and practice activity work double time to get students comfortable with both.

Colin likes to use Live Sessions in class that way he can project the class over view on the screen. Students can easily view the class code and also watch their own progress through the peer feedback process. Before students started each step of the process Colin also played the student tutorial videos. Colin’s words of advice on using Live Sessions:

If the teacher runs the assignments as live sessions it makes a big difference. This gives students (and teacher) instant feedback, in the sense of seeing that students are progressing through the steps. It also shows other students who have successfully done the step so they can get some peer teaching from the pioneers. Both of these are not only valuable to students but also to teachers.

By sharing this guide with students, they can also follow along at their own pace and watch the corresponding videos that explain the Peergrade process step by step.

If you want to share how you use Peergrade with others get in touch with us by sending an email to


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