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Below are some instructions to help you during a peer review. 

Before starting a peer review:

  • Read the whole document at least once before writing your first comment. You’ll be tempted to start commenting on your initial pass but resist the urge! You might end up causing yourself more work in editing, deleting, and rewriting comments when you start commenting before you’ve read or watched the whole thing.  
  • Give yourself enough time to thoroughly read and provide feedback but also account for enough time for your peer to review your comments and make edits before the deadline; give yourself a few hours for the review and give your peer a few days before the deadline. [Instructors, it is recommended to set a deadline for the peer review to be completed, in advance of the assignment deadline.]
  • Don’t let your own bias affect your ability to review objectively; evaluate the strength of the arguments and the clarity of their communication, not whether you agree with their point of view.

What to look for and comment on:

  • Make comments in spirit of helpfulness and from the reader’s perspective, not an evaluator.
  • Identify whether the assignment is communicated in an understandable way - Does the author have a clear objective or goal and have they provided sufficient explanation, support, or examples that you fully understand the argument?
    • For a written assignment: Spelling, grammar, and sentence structure mistakes can be glaring, but keep in mind that everyone has their own writing style and tone. Limit these types of comments to places where it impedes your understanding of the argument.
    • For a video assignment: keeping in mind everyone has an accent; focus on whether the presentation audible, organized, coherent, and clearly spoken?
  • Point out both strengths and opportunities for improvement in the assignment; everyone likes praise where they deserve it, but there is no magic ratio of positive to constructive comments, though there should be a balance.
  • Identify perspectives that the author might not have considered that could be seen as gaps or oversights in their arguments.

Tips for writing constructive comments:

  • Indicate which parts of the assignment you find most and least effective, and why
  • Offer suggestions – start your comments with ‘I recommend…’ or ‘You might consider…’ Suggestions come across as more supportive, encouraging, and collaborative, which your peers will appreciate.
  • Be clear and specific – explain why you feel an idea is vague or unclear; identify the exact part that confused you or left you hung up.

Sources

Five Ways to Make Peer Feedback Effective in Your Classroom (EdSurge)
Guidelines for Students – Peer Review (Carleton University)
How Can I Get the Most Out of Peer Review? (WAC Clearinghouse)
Peer Review from the Students' Perspective: Invaluable or Invalid? (Charlotte Brammer and Mary Rees)
Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review (The Teaching Centre at Washington University in St. Louis)