8 Ways to Make Peer Feedback Effective in the Classroom

Higher education today has found peer assessment to be an effective way to evaluate students’ understanding of the topic. By employing a rubric, instructors can guide students to look for the right things like structure, idea, explanation, and clarity when giving feedback.

All of this revolves around the role of the professor, who is responsible for enforcing effective peer-to-peer feedback in the classroom to guide students and promote constructive criticism, thereby aiding overall learning!

Here’s what we will be covering in this article:

  • How has Peer Assessment gained importance in Higher Education?
  • 8 Examples of Peer Feedback in the Classroom
  • Comparison of Peer Feedback tools: Choose the right solution for your Classroom
  • 5 Peer Feedback tools that help you deliver an engaging Classroom Experience

How has peer assessment gained Importance in higher education?

Feedback is a vital cog in students' learning process which requires professors to spend numerous hours evaluating their work. This traditional way of giving feedback exposes the student to only one point of view (the professors) and doesn’t give students insights into how their peers understood the topic.

Peer assessment in higher education has gained momentum among professors who have seen highly engaged classrooms and collaborative learning among peers. As the professor gives the students a rubric, it works as a guideline for them to share their evaluations. Along with learning how to give feedback, here are some key takeaways that the students and instructors have gained from peer assessment.

1. Students take the onus of their learning

Peer assessment entails students analyzing their peers' work, comparing it to success criteria relevant to a learning goal, and delivering critical and motivating feedback. Instead of overestimating or underestimating their work, students can learn to self-correct and understand the relevance of the instructor’s inputs, allowing them to become more self-sufficient in their learning.

2. Students get timely feedback

One of the most difficult tasks for professors is finding time to provide frequent, relevant feedback. Peer feedback in the classroom allows students to obtain timely feedback by learning from various perspectives while avoiding the power dynamics inherent in a teacher-student relationship.

3. Students get exposure to multiple points of view

Peer evaluation among students increases their learning by disseminating information and exchanging opinions. Students learn in various ways from their peers' knowledge and perspectives. It enforces teamwork and more engagement when using team-based learning methods.

4. Students learn to accept and deliver feedback

Students become more aware of what is expected of them and develop higher trust in the assessment process when they are allowed to participate in the feedback process. This encourages students to analyze and comment on each other's work to deliver accurate feedback.

5. Students engage with the course material at a deeper level

When students become a part of the peer assessment process, their learning doesn’t stop when they submit their assignments. With the responsibility of evaluating their peers’ work, they are getting a deeper insight into how they interacted with the course material and what their key takeaways were, which could be very different from their own.

6. Instructors can design rubrics to define tasks and objectives clearly

The level of familiarity that students may have with peer assessment can vary. Giving students a clearly defined rubric that elaborates on what to look for in an assignment, how the structure should be, and if it meets the course's learning objectives can help them understand the assessment process.

7. Instructors save time grading

Peer assessment transforms the role of the instructor delivering lectures and grading test papers to a mentor who facilitates meaningful discussions inside and outside the classroom. Irrespective of your class size, the topic understanding gets multiplied when your students get the opportunity to learn and share their work with their peers.

8. Students can give anonymous feedback within their group

Instructors may not know everything that happens within teams. Grading solely on application cases might be skewed and they may not have equally participated in rewarding students for work. When instructors incorporate peer review into their grading, they may produce more informed scores, save time, and reward students who accomplished the work. Furthermore, anonymity can lead to positive attitudes toward peer evaluation and encourage students to be more eager to provide valuable criticism.

Check out how Prof. Jonathan Wisco was able to build a positive and inclusive course culture with peer assessment.

8 Examples of Effective Peer Feedback in the Classroom 

Peer assessment is an effective evaluation approach in any modality – online, in-person, or hybrid – because it allows students to build critical thinking skills and take charge of their learning. Here are a few examples of effective peer feedback in the classroom:

1. Positive feedback that cites specific examples

Delivering encouraging feedback that allows students to enhance their ideas with examples that guide them in the right direction. A positive review can be framed as in the given example -

“This manuscript brings a detailed and exceptional demonstration of the distinct strain differences in Buridan's paradigm. As Drosophila labs exercise their wild-type isolate, especially Canton-S, this difference in strain pertains to a crucial issue for lab reproducibility. This work brings all geneticist attention towards the importance of population effects in background control, and brings their focus onto the mutant lines we are comparing.”

2. Clearly stating the article's relevance

Peer feedback entails having a learner's scholarly work and research examined by peers in the same field to ensure its validity and eligibility for publication. Students must also understand that their thoughts and opinions must be backed up with evidence and suggestions for change. It can be better understood if we look at this example -

“The idea behind this paper is that genomes with a small percentage of guanosine and cytosine (GC) nucleotide pairs encode proteomes that are more vulnerable to aggregation than genomes with a high percentage of GC nucleotide pairs. As a result, these species become increasingly reliant on the protein folding mechanism. If this concept is correct, this could make a direct link between the inclination to aggregate and the genomic code.”

3. Sandwich technique

In the sandwich method, the feedback starts with a couple of positive comments, then points where the students could improve, and concludes with an encouraging note. Here’s an example:

“From the beginning, your project was well-structured and thorough. However, the presentation did not include some things we discussed in the last session. Nonetheless, your presentation was a huge success, and you undoubtedly recognized that some topics were absent and included them later.”

4. Summary suggesting minor revisions

Reviewing academic work necessitates a thorough analysis. When feedback is given summarizing the author’s understanding of the topic, with minor revisions to ideas, typos, or adding and deleting some sections, it tells the author that the evaluator has gone through their entire piece in detail. Here’s an example:

“This is an excellent review and unbiased appraisal of the current state of the water crisis from a world expert on the subject. Important data that may have been omitted when discussing geopolitical scenarios could have been included.”

5. Questioning the author's POV with constructive and unbiased feedback

Peer evaluation that leaves the author with some things to think about without showing any biases can help students critically analyze their work. This allows them to incorporate newer learnings into their work that can be applied to future assessments. Here’s an example: 

“I am grateful to the authors for writing this essay. It's a well-written, necessary, and valuable assessment of the current state of "data release" from one point of view. On the other hand, the authors need to be more daring and analytical. This is an opinion piece, but I don't see much of one. The organization of the paper and the references picked imply a particular point of view, although they could be more obvious.”

6. A detailed breakdown of each section of the submission

A good way to start with peer evaluation in classrooms is by harnessing the practice of providing reviews at the end of an assessment. The author gets detailed feedback on their academic work by delving into each section in-depth. This can be better understood with the following example:

“Chevalier et al. in this paper investigated whether late sodium current (INaL) can be measured using an automated patch-clamp device. The INaL effects of ranolazine (a well-known INaL inhibitor) and veratridine (an INaL activator) were studied for this purpose. The researchers put the CytoPatch automatic patch-clamp system to the test and recorded whole-cell recordings in HEK293 cells that had been transfected with human Nav1.5 for a long time. They also put the electrophysiological qualities of Cellular Dynamics International's human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPS) to the test. The title and abstract are suitable for the text's content. In addition, the article is well-written, the experiments were well-run, and the analysis was thorough and proper.”

7. Commending the author on the level of research

Since research is an important part of submitting academic work, delivering feedback on a piece with a strong foundation and analysis can encourage the author to work harder. Here’s an example:

“This study is outstanding and a significant addition to the literature, in my opinion. I like the idea of a self-replicating cycle because it illustrates how the "problem" begins with the neuron, i.e. when the neuron is adversely impacted by one or more of a variety of insults, it releases H1, which then stimulates microglia, causing overexpression of cytokines that may encourage repair when limited but become chronic (as shown here with the potential of cyclic H1 release) and thus fosters neurotoxin production. I'm hoping the authors will assess cytokine expression soon, particularly IL-1 and TNF in astrocytes and microglia, and S100B in astrocytes.”

8. Strengths and weaknesses in offering suggestions

By clearly spelling out what was done well and what could use a bit more work, the evaluator can offer helpful suggestions that can help the author improve. The below example highlights an example of such feedback-

“Overall, this is an important and pertinent piece. It's well-researched and written well, with plenty of metaphors. This will be a good review study if modified to address the comprehensive suggestions and to recognize the complexity of the current data publication situation. This might be an influential work if the authors go deeper into the complexity and conflicts and fully struggle with their ramifications to recommend a path ahead.”

The goal isn't to take apart every detail of the academic work. Rather, it is to provide the writers with constructive and critical criticism to enhance their research and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

Comparison of Peer Feedback tools - Choose the right solution for your classroom:

Online peer assessment tools allow instructors to distribute fair and accurate grades based on the quality of feedback a student has offered to their peers. The following table compares Kritik with other peer assessment tools available to instructors today.

5 Peer Feedback tools that help you deliver an engaging classroom experience 

It can be overwhelming to decide between the peer feedback tools that exist today. Along with ensuring that the tool is compatible with your LMS, you want to ensure that it is intuitive and adds value to your existing workflow.

1. Kritik

Kritik is an AI-powered peer-grading platform that provides fair and accurate evaluations by leveraging collective intelligence to streamline daily workflows and reduce feedback response time. Students can not only peer assess their classmates but also give feedback on the quality of the evaluation they received. This encourages students to provide detailed and helpful feedback. 

Instructors who use Kritik in their courses can choose from customizable rubrics based on the course they teach and get full visibility into grading. Access to analytics on the Kritik dashboard allows instructors to see how effectively peer assessment was implemented in their classrooms.

2. Packback

Packback is a cloud-based tool that uses online communities and discussion threads to help educational institutions enhance student participation. Packback's automated technology speeds up the assessment of discussions and cuts down on teacher response time.

3. FeedbackFruits

FeedbackFruits is a collection of assignment tools that allow students to receive and provide feedback. For audio and video student submissions, feedback may be time-stamped to a specific point in the audio or video and supplied via a rubric.

4. Peergrade

Peergrade is an online platform that enables students to grade and comment on each other's work using the rubric. Peergrade is a tool that allows you to reduce the time you spend assessing student work while improving the quality of their scholarly work.

5. peerScholar

PeerScholar is a fully customizable peer assessment tool that aids in developing your pupils' critical and creative thinking abilities. It's integrated with DC Connect; hence creating an assignment and grading turns out to be a seamless process.

Implement Effective Peer Feedback in your Classroom with Kritik! 

Peer feedback in the classroom makes learning more engaging and collaborative while assisting in developing important skills like communication and critical thinking. What Kritik offers is an opportunity for your students to play a vital role in their learning and accept different points of view that enhance their work. 

Schedule a demo with Kritik today to introduce your students to the art of giving helpful feedback.

Preeti Ravi
Content Marketing Manager