Contributors:Isabel Elizalde, Misty Hamideh, Lindsay Murphy

Enabling Peer Review on your Canvas assignment gives students a way to provide feedback on their classmates’ work. The peer review process exposes students to different perspectives and approaches to the same task, and can often deepen their understanding of the material.

Peer review can be used for various types of assignments, such as:

  • Writing assignments (essays, reports, research papers)
  • Multimedia projects (videos, presentations)
  • Problem sets or coding exercises
  • Artistic or creative works (drawings, designs, compositions)

Setting up effective peer-reviewed assignments can be tricky. Consider scheduling a consultation with OAI staff to get help through the process!

How do I set up Canvas Peer Review?

Canvas supports peer review through the Assignments tool. When creating a new activity, you can enable the “Peer Review” option and configure settings like:

  • Anonymous or named reviews
  • Number of peer reviews required per student
  • Instructions and rubrics for reviewers

Here are some things to consider as you set up your peer review assignment:

Include the due dates for both the initial submission and peer review comments in your assignment description.

Because you cannot set separate due dates for the initial draft posting and peer review phases, communicating both due dates in the assignment description will make your expectations clear and help ensure that all students have a paper to review. Using Announcements to make sure students stay on track is also a great idea!

Be sure to highlight the importance of submitting initial drafts on time.

Students who don’t submit an assignment cannot be assigned another’s work to review. (Note: If you have chosen to “Automatically Assign Reviews”, students who did not submit the assignment by the due date will not be automatically assigned a classmate to review and thus will need to be added manually.)

Peer review may be new to some students.

Consider sharing a model and/or rubric that gives students a framework for providing feedback. (Note: If you attach a rubric to the assignment, peer reviewers are also able to access this rubric. Rubrics used by peer reviewers for feedback are not included in the final grade.)

Once the assignment is published, you can monitor the progress of submissions and peer reviews through the Assignments page. Canvas provides an overview of the peer review status, allowing you to see which students have completed their reviews and which ones are still pending. If needed, you can extend deadlines or reassign peer reviews to ensure each submission receives the required number of reviews. There’s also a Reminder tool you can use to send a notification to students who have not completed their assigned reviews!

What Should Students Expect?

Peer reviews are not assigned until:

  • The student has submitted their own assignment, AND
  • The date set by the instructor to assign the reviews has passed (if you choose to assign reviews automatically) or the instructor assigns the peer reviews manually.

Until both of these things have happened, the peer review assignment will not show up on the student’s To Do list or on the original assignment. As many students rely on the To Do list to keep track of their assignment due dates, be aware that this may cause some confusion.

Note: Peer review details do not show up in Student View. 

It may be helpful to ask students to watch this overview video of the peer review process in Canvas:

As the instructor, you may want to provide feedback to the students on the peer reviews. Canvas allows you to view and comment on the peer reviews themselves, offering feedback on the quality and accuracy of the reviews. You can also use SpeedGrader to view each student’s work alongside the peer reviews they received, making it easier to assess their overall performance and provide your own feedback.

Canvas does not have a way to automatically assign a grade for completing a peer review. However, if you would like to assign points for peer reviews, you can create a No Submission assignment in the Gradebook and assign points manually. The Peer Review page for the assignment will show the names of students who have completed the peer review. (Note: You can find a link to the Peer Review page on the main Assignment page under Related Items.)

Group Peer Review Assignments

Peer review can also work with group assignments. By creating group set, you can assign students to specific groups and distribute peer review tasks accordingly.  

Some important things to know about using peer review for group assignments:

Peer reviews are assigned to individuals, not groups.

Each group only needs to have one member submit the assignment, but this submission will show up for every student in the group. When the peer reviewer makes comments on their assigned classmate, these comments are compiled with other comments from reviewers who were assigned the same submission. In this way, each member of the group will see comments from all the peer reviewers in their feedback.

By default, automatically assigned peer reviews will not be assigned to members of the same group.

If you would like to allow group members to review their own group’s work, be sure to check the option to “Allow intra-group peer reviews”. This will randomize the peer review assignments, not paying attention to group membership. (Note:  The only way to ensure that students are assigned only to members of their own group is to set peer reviewers manually.)