Nailing the perfect peer evaluation rubric

Peer evaluation is a powerful tool for fostering collaboration, critical thinking, and inspiring growth within a classroom setting.  A strong rubric is often the backbone of effective peer assessment as it provides a clear framework for assessing and providing feedback on peers’ work. Rubrics ensure objectivity, consistency, and fairness in the evaluation process.


However, creating an effective rubric may be a challenging task for many instructors. Let us look into some of the key elements of a perfect peer grading rubric. This shall help you create a robust framework to guide your students in providing effective feedback.

In this article, we will be covering:

  •  What is a Rubric and Why do they Matter?
  • 4 Considerations when Designing Peer Evaluation Rubrics
  • 5 Examples of Peer Evaluation Rubrics
  • How Kritik Enables Instructors to Create Effective Peer Evaluation Rubrics
  • How to Create a Strong Rubric

What is a rubric and why do they matter?

A rubric defines a set of criteria that an assessor can use to evaluate work. Rubrics are not only impactful grading tools for instructors but also formative learning tools for students, as they provide a more objective method of grading,allow students to understand course expectations and apply their knowledge to their work accordingly (Arter & McTighe, 2001).

A 2010 literature review about the effectiveness of rubrics concludes that rubrics can enhance student learning by helping students understand course expectations and encourage them to think critically about their work (Reddy & Andrade, 2010). Instructors can create rubrics to provide students with well-defined criteria against which they can effectively assess peers’ work. A rubric can guide students to evaluate their peers’ work and provide specific feedback.

4 Considerations when Designing Peer Evaluation Rubrics

A robust peer evaluation grading rubric designed by the instructor can go a long way in ensuring that students evaluate peers’ work as the instructor would have done. Here are four key considerations while designing a peer grading rubric.

1. Clear and Measurable Criteria

By considering the learning objective of an assignment, the criteria can be broken down into specific skills or competencies that can be evaluated. This helps create a shared understanding of assignment expectations among students, thereby enhancing transparency in peer assessment

Example: In a creative writing assignment, the criteria could include vocabulary, language skills, character development, and plot progression. 

2. Balanced Rating Scale

The rating scale used in a peer assessment rubric should be neither too simplistic nor too complicated. A numerical rating scale, for example, is an easy and straightforward rating scale that provides a range within which peers can provide feedback. 

Example: Prof. Jane Barnette uses ungrading practices in her Theatre and Dance course. See how she designs her rubrics.

3. Defined Performance Levels

Outline what each rating on the scale means in terms of performance. By consulting the rubric, students should get a clear idea of what grades constitute excellent, satisfactory, and poor performance. This helps them to evaluate their peers’ work fairly. 

Example: Check out Prof. Art Carden’s 6X7 rubric for essay assignments with a detailed description for each level. 

4. Clear Instructions and Guidelines

A peer grading rubric should clearly outline the process of assessment, evaluation criteria, deadlines, do’s and don’ts, while providing feedback and any additional information, such as the significance of peer assessment. These guidelines help foster a sense of responsibility among peers and make the evaluation process more structured and effective.

Example: Check out how Prof. RayeCarol Cavender guides her students through the evaluation process. 

5 Examples of Peer Evaluation Rubrics

Peer evaluation rubrics can be of several types, as each assignment has its own goals and requirements and is designed to test different skill sets. Let us look at a few peer grading rubric examples designed for effective assessment of different assignment types.

1. Peer Grading Rubric for Essays

An essay is a common assessment method across courses in higher learning institutions. A peer grading rubric for essays will typically focus on conciseness, clarity, completeness, comprehension of ideas, as well as the proper use of grammar and syntax. The weightage provided to each of these criteria would differ for different courses. Here is an example:

Peer evaluation rubric with four levels and five criteria for an essay

2. Peer Grading Rubric for Presentations

Peer evaluation has been proven to improve the quality of engagement in student presentations (Girard, T., et al. 2011). Rubrics for presentation should be determined differently for individual and group presentations. However, content, clarity, delivery, and audience engagement remain some of the most important criteria for a peer assessment presentation rubric. Here is an example of a peer grading rubric for presentations:

Peer evaluation rubric for a presentation with four levels and eight criteria

3. Peer Grading Rubric for Lab Reports

With Kritik, it is also possible to design peer evaluation rubrics for lab reports. Although lab report rubrics have a different focus than other assignments, these rubrics ideally focus on the comprehensive presentation of steps followed during an experiment, correct scientific explanations and measurements, and the completeness of the report. Here is an example:

Peer evaluation rubric for a lab report with three levels and five criteria

4. Peer Grading Rubrics for Discussion Boards

Many have found that LMS platforms render discussion ineffective since students do not engage with others or read each other’s posts. However, it is possible to direct effective discussion in the classroom with the help of rubrics. In Kritik, rubrics can be customized to insert discussion prompts for any kind of assignment, which lets students know exactly what questions to ask and assess, thereby enhancing engagement and facilitating stimulating class discussions. Here is an example:

Peer evaluation rubric for a discussion board assignment with five levels and five criteria

5. Peer Grading Rubrics for Group Projects

Creating peer grading rubrics for group projects can be tricky as it is essential for peers to evaluate not only other groups’ work but also the contributions of their group members. Anonymous peer review works best in group settings. These rubrics focus on accuracy, ability to communicate, team role fulfillment, and cooperation with others. Here is an example of a peer grading rubric for team-based settings:

Peer evaluation rubric for group assignment with four levels and six criteria

Implement Kritik to create Peer Evaluation rubrics within minutes!

Kritik has a large repository of rubrics that instructors can plug into their assignment to guide students to do peer evaluations effectively. Instructors can also upload their rubrics or make changes to existing templates to suit their course needs.

Instructors using Kritik have seen students getting better at using rubrics with every successive assignment as they always have access to it on the screen during the Create (Submission) stage or at the Evaluate (anonymous peer evaluations) stage. 

If you’d like to check out more peer grading rubrics and activities, you may download the following case studies:


Arter, J. A., & McTighe, J. (2001). Scoring rubrics in the classroom: Using performance criteria for assessing and improving student performance. Corwin Press.

Brookhart, S. M., & Chen, F. (2015). The quality and effectiveness of descriptive rubrics. Educational Review (Birmingham), 67(3), 343–368.

Cockett, A., & Jackson, C. (2018). The use of assessment rubrics to enhance feedback in higher education: An integrative literature review. Nurse Education Today, 69, 8–13.

O'Brien, C. E., Franks, A. M., & Stowe, C. D. (2008). Multiple rubric-based assessments of student case presentations. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 72(3), 58.

Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435–448.

Wollenschläger, M., Hattie, J., Machts, N., Möller, J., & Harms, U. (2016). What makes rubrics effective in teacher-feedback? Transparency of learning goals is not enough. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 44-45, 1–11.

Virginia Li
Education Researcher