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Peer feedback for deeper learning


Peer feedback is described as students taking an active role in giving feedback on each other’s projects, group skills, presentations, or other assignments. Students do this with a prior set of criteria (i.e. rubrics) provided by the teacher (Liu & Carless, 2006). By giving feedback to each other, students are able to learn more by both giving and receiving feedback through reading other’s work and experiencing how their peers perform in the assignment. Students have commented that (although sometimes unexpectedly) they learn more from the reviewing process itself than the feedback they receive (Nicol et al., 2014).

As a further point on student learning, peer feedback also allows for more feedback opportunities throughout the course which can be especially useful for larger classes. Do note, however, that peer feedback is not designed to replace the crucial feedback of the teacher, but rather add more feedback moments throughout the course.

Need a bit more of a broad overview before getting into the specifics below? This video might help:


Why would I use peer feedback? 

  1. Active learning: Peer feedback contributes to the active learning of students since they are involved in a review of course content. This can be particularly useful in bringing more balance to courses that heavily rely on individually passive methods such as lecturing, reading, testing, etc.

  2. Formative feedback: Due to time constraints, it might be difficult for teachers to give enough formative feedback. And even when possible, more is always better. When making use of peer feedback, you have a method of giving feedback to students before they need to submit the final version of their product. Think of one example of a thesis-writing course: with peer feedback scheduled early on in the process, some early confusion in the process can be ‘’filtered out’ and already solved before reaching the teacher.

  3. Skill development: Peer feedback contributes to the development of skills such as evaluation, giving/reacting on feedback, and critical reflection. Students are often more critical when receiving feedback from a fellow student, whereas feedback from teachers will simply be accepted as a certainty. 

  4. Student Engagement: By using peer feedback, students will have to take on a more responsible role in the course. 

Some teachers have valid arguments against the use of peer feedback, like the possibility that students are too critical, too friendly, or simply not trained enough to give feedback. This can be true of poorly-designed review instructions. A well-designed peer feedback assignment is essential for lessening these obstacles.


How to design a peer feedback assignment? 

A well-designed assignment is crucial for the learning process of your students. Take the following steps into account: 

  1. Set criteria: Make use of Rubrics that take the current level of your students into account. Are your teaching master’s or first-year students? The latter will need more explicit and extensive criteria than the first. It also helps tremendously to use the same criteria as a teacher when providing their final grade.

  2. Provide instructions: Be sure to take time in your class to instruct the process of giving feedback in addition to the criteria. It is important to know what kind of guidance your students need during the process. They will need clear instructions to know what is expected of them. If they do, they are more likely to write their feedback in a way as they would like to receive it. For example, if you use the tool Peerceptiv for peer feedback, give them a manual with instructions. 

  3. Train students: Besides instructions, training in how to give feedback might be necessary. For many students, giving feedback to their peers might be new and unfamiliar. 

  4. Amount of reviews: To minimize the situation in which a student does not receive high-quality feedback, it is important that they receive at least three reviews so make plans for this in advance.

  5. Feedback on reviews: Though not always necessary, a student may also receive feedback on the reviews that were written to contribute even more to the learning process. This can be done, for example, by open comments.

Do you have any questions about peer feedback and how it works? Please email edusupport@rug.nl for advice in using these suggestions in your course. One of our advisers will be in touch shortly.


Related Tools 


Whom to contact?

Contact EDU Support or your faculty's Embedded Expert from ESI for tailored didactic advice in using these suggestions in your teaching. For technical assistance please contact Nestorsupport.


References

Filius, R. M. de Kleijn, R. A. M., Uijl, S. G., Prins, F. J., van Rijen, H. V. M., & Grobbee, D. E. (2019). Audio peer feedback to promote deep learning in online education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(5), 607-619, https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12363

Gielen, S., Dochy, F., Onghena, P., Struyven, K., Smeets, S. (2011). Goals of peer assessment and their associated quality concepts. Studies in Higher Education, 36, 719-735, https://doi.org/10.1080/03075071003759037

Liu, N-F, Carless, D. (2007). Peer feedback: The learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11, 279-290. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510600680582

Nicol, D., Thomson, A., & Breslin, C. (2014). Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: A peer review perspective. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(1), 102-122, https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.795518


Last modified: 19 November 02:05 PM
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