We want to thank the forty-four educators who took the time to respond to our survey about the peer review process. In this blog post, we’ll share some of the raw data and break down the common themes from the responses.

About the Respondents

About three-quarters of respondents teach post-secondary education, while the remainder were K12 or involved in tutoring. Canvas was the most common LMS (a bit under half), followed by Blackboard. Overall most major LMS were represented by a few educators.

In what is a definite bias of educators who see the value in peer review also being the ones willing to answer a survey about peer review, around 90% of respondents use peer review “occasionally” or “regularly”.

Mostly peer review is being used as part of general class participation, although a sizable minority (around 30%) were using it as a graded activity worth at least 5% of the course grade.

Tactics and Motivations

Why use peer review? The motivations were varied but by far the most common response was to help students to think more critically about their work. While providing general feedback was also a common answer, educators are mostly using this process to help develop critical thinking and analysis skills.

One common theme in several responses that stood out to us was how peer review allows students to identify areas of improvement in their own work through the process of reviewing others’ work. As they review their peers’ contributions, it forces them to think about their own submission, the assignment’s requirements, and to gauge the quality of their own work relative to their peers.

In terms of specific tactics for implementing peer review, respondents provided insights on their methods of guiding peer review. Their responses (raw data below pie charts) were:

Provide sample/anchor work to students to use as a standard

  • Always: 25%
  • Frequently: 6%
  • Sometimes: 31%
  • Rarely: 25%
  • Never: 13%

Provide a rubric to help students understand expectations

  • Always: 44%
  • Frequently: 13%
  • Sometimes: 19%
  • Rarely: 13%
  • Never: 13%

Organize students into random groupings to define who reviews whom

  • Always: 38%
  • Frequently: 19%
  • Sometimes: 13%
  • Never: 19%
  • Rarely: 13%

Organize students into specific groupings

  • Always: 0%
  • Frequently: 25%
  • Sometimes: 6%
  • Rarely: 25%
  • Never: 44%

Ask students to include the peer review feedback they received when submitting final versions of their work

  • Always: 13%
  • Frequently: 19%
  • Sometimes: 25%
  • Rarely: 13%
  • Never: 31%

Ask Students to Respond to The Peer Review in Final Paper

  • Always: 13%
  • Frequently: 6%
  • Sometimes: 13%
  • Rarely: 38%
  • Never: 31%

Ask students to evaluate the quality of the feedback they received

  • Always: 13%
  • Frequently: 25%
  • Sometimes: 0%
  • Rarely: 13%
  • Never: 50%

Takeaways

We also asked respondents to provide observations about how to improve their existing peer review tools and processes. One common theme was that existing tools don’t effectively meet their needs. Deficiencies included issues such as LMS provided tools (Canvas and Blackboard) being buggy or difficult to use, third party software lacking integration with their LMS and other institutional software, being difficult for students to use, and a lack of integrated resources such as a writing handbook.

Another common challenge was the disparity between participants’ motivation levels to collaborate with their peers. Some students take the process seriously and provide great feedback to their peers but get discouraged by the lack of reciprocity from their peers. In other cases, just getting students to actually do the work was listed as the biggest challenge. We don’t have the solution to magically motivating students (don’t we all wish we did). This shows that any peer review solution needs to remove remove friction across the student and instructor experience. A solution’s effectiveness will be determined by intuitiveness and ease of use rather than customization and number of features.

We want to thank all the participants in our survey. We’re interested in making a solution for educators and students to facilitate peer review and the responses we received will inform our considerations.