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CIC Faculty Guide Online

peer review with canvas


What is Canvas Peer Review?

Canvas allows students to electronically peer review classmates' assignments or discussions. Instructors may configure the peer review option to automatically create review groups, or they may manually assign peer groups. Whenever students submit an assignment or post to a discussion area that requires peer review, they will see a list of their assigned reviews. Clicking a name on the list will bring them directly to a review pane with their peer's draft or discussion postings. Instructors can access a peer review overview screen that indicates which students have completed assigned reviews.


Some Necessary Considerations:

The peer review feature on Canvas is a useful tool that can facilitate our work with writing in English courses whether in or out of the classroom. But, there is one notable caveat: developers have allowed only one due date for each assignment and discussion. Thus, peer review can only be set up one time within an assignment or discussion space.

Peer Review Options

This view of peer review as a one-time activity for each assignment may be contrary to the way many instructors administer peer review. However, you can absolutely use the tool to support many variations of peer review with a basic knowledge of how it works. The following information presents both considerations and steps to help achieve your instructional goals with this activity.

Before Setting Up Peer Review On Canvas:

You must first decide what type of peer review you would like to do.

This includes thinking through:

All of these elements will impact what the best protocol is for setting up assignments and peer review on Canvas. Of course you do not have to have everything figured out at the start of the quarter, but before you move to the step of setting up peer review on Canvas at any time during the quarter, the following considerations are necessary. Most courses that have writing assignments will be using some type of drafting, be it formal or informal.

Because peer review might be part of your drafting and skill-building process, it is important you consider how to administer it with Canvas. If you are teaching a 100-level EWP course, you are using the feedback pathways (more information here), where drafting might actually be built into your sequences. There are many ways that an instructor can use peer feedback to support the drafting process.

Below are a few potential ideas of how it might work in your class:


Single Draft Peer Feedback

Single draft, or “traditional” peer review might be considered to be one that occurs before a draft has been submitted to the instructor. Usually, the peer feedback will work to develop a piece of writing that will later be evaluated by the instructor. This could be a formal (for a grade) or informal (not for a grade) activity in your class. For a peer review to occur before the submission of the assignment, you will need to create two assignments. If you decide you would like more than one draft, you will need to create multiple assignments to support those drafts.

Naming Assignmnents


Multiple Drafts with Peer Feedback

If you are using multiple drafts, where you would like to have students submit an essay, receive feedback, make revisions, and then receive peer feedback (or vice versa) you will need to actually create separate assignments in Canvas rather than attaching a peer review to the assignment. So, instead of creating “Short Assignment 3” and adding a peer review in this case, you would have “Short Assignment 3 Draft 1” and “Short Assignment 3 Draft 2”. You would attach the peer review to actual draft it corresponds with. These may or may not be formally graded and given additional feedback by you.


Informal Peer Feedback

Your drafting process may be more informal and less structured. For example, you might be using a peer review for prewriting or a rough draft, meaning that you will not be evaluating this work. Students would continue revising based on their peer feedback and then submit their “final” draft to you. Of course if you are using the portfolio system, it is not “final”, but the official draft prior to the portfolio submission. In this case, you have two options. You can also set up multiple assignments (i.e. “Short Assignment 3 Rough Draft”, and “Short Assignment 3”). You can attach the peer review to the rough draft, or whatever you choose to name it.

Another option, however, would be to use the Discussion function rather than the Assignment function in Canvas. This could be particularly appropriate for focusing on a particular skill (i.e. claims, stakes), a brainstorming/prewriting type of peer review, or a “wildcard” peer review (usually toward the end of the quarter, where students can choose which of their pieces they want more feedback on). It might also be a good choice If you are planning to have students do the activity in class, and if there might be a value to students being able to see everyone’s feedback (this is not required in Discussion, but an option). Something else to keep in mind: If you choose to do a “rough draft” or to add an informal peer review to a discussion, you can change the grading setting to (complete/incomplete) so you are just checking for participation.

Below is an example of an informal peer feedback assignment:

Critical Questions/Response Instructions

By noon on Monday, 6/10, briefly respond to 1-2 peers' blog entries, noting how they might build upon their existing analysis as they work toward Essay 2 and posing questions to help them do so. Has your peer made a claim he/she could apply to additional shots/scenes/elements of overall form? Has he or she discussed shots, scenes or patterns that could be examined via the lens of one of the Essay 2 topics? Your role is to help peers develop their ideas-in-progress further.


Additional Tips:

Setting up Peer Review Within an Assignment on Canvas


How to Set Up Peer Review Within An Assignment:

  1. After you’ve set up an assignment (added points, due date, and Assignment Group), click on Show Advanced Options.
    Show Advanced Options
  2. Select Grading type and Submission type, then click on Require Peer Reviews.

    Require Peer Reviews
  3. In Canvas, you are given the option to manually assign or automatically assign peer reviews. Be strategic about this. You may want to consider pairing on the basis of proficiency (ex. a language learner and a native speaker), experience (ex. two upper-classmen), topic, gender, students who frequently work together or never have, etc. Manually assigning can have many pedagogical benefits, so make sure to consider this beforehand.

    Manual or Automatic Assign Option
  4. If you select to manually assign: Proceed to setting the Assignment’s other information. Select For “Everyone” from the drop down menu. Select the due date, and the available from and available to sections. Then go to Update Assignment.

    Manual Assign Info

    Once the assignment is created, click on Assignments and go to the assignment. On the right-hand side you will see Peer Reviews. Click on it.

    Peer Review Button

    From there, you will see a list of your students. Here, you can go name by name and click the plus sign to select who will work with who. You can scroll down your list and click Add. If you make a mistake, you can delete by hovering over the name and clicking the trash can. Continue until everyone is assigned. You can assign more than one person each by continuing to click the plus sign. Your peer reviews will now be set for your students. Go here for more information about what students will see and how they will retrieve their peer reviews.

    Manual Assign Function
  5. If you choose to automatically assign peer reviews, click that box. A couple of new boxes will pop up. Set the number of reviews in the Reviews Per User box. How many times do you want each assignment reviewed? Think about feasibility and function. 1 or 2 times might be appropriate for a longer, more substantial review. 3 or 4 might be appropriate for a shorter, less formal review. 2 reviews is probably the maximum that can be done in one class period, while homework might allow more time.

    Reviews Per User
  6. Next, set the due date in the Assign Reviews section. Setting the due date is essential on Canvas. You MUST make the due date after assignment is due. You can put in a date if you want to, if you don’t, the peer reviews will be assigned right when students turn in papers. If you want to have them wait, set it, but it is not necessary. Canvas does not allow multiple due dates within a single assignment. Refer to the previous information to think through this. It may be appropriate to set up another assignment at this time. Once you have selected the Assign Reviews due date, proceed to setting the assignment's other information. Select For “Everyone” from the drop down menu. Select the due date, and the available from and available to sections. Then go to Update Assignment. For more information on how students can submit their peer feedback and view their peers’ feedback once given, go here and here.


Setting up Peer Review Within a Discussion on Canvas

How to Set Up Peer Review Within A Discussion:

It is not necessary to use the formal peer review function if you want to have students give each other feedback on a discussion board. So long as you allow for threaded replies, you can have students informally respond to each other or even prompt them with more specific questions. However, if it is important for you to moniter, track, and grade peer reviews, you may want to use the Peer Review function within a Discussion.

  1. If you decide you would like to use the discussion function for peer review, go to Discussions page and begin a new discussion by clicking the Add button.

    Discussion Button

    Proceed by filling in the title of the discussion (i.e. a rough draft peer review, a complex claim peer review, etc.), fill out the instructions, and attach any relevant files. Keep in mind that all posts would be viewed by all students with this function, an option which may be appealing depending on your purpose.

    Discussion Details
  2. Next, decide whether or not you want everyone to view everyone’s feedback. If you want or do not mind all students viewing everyone else’s feedback as well as their work, all you need to do is set up a discussion area with instructions on who will read whose work and general guidelines for giving feedback. This might be helpful if you are trying to share or generate ideas or focus on a particular skill. But, length is also a consideration. If the assignments are more than 1-2 pages it is probably best for students not to view everyone’s.
  3. If you decide you want your students to see each other work, but not the feedback their peers receive, then use the Require Peer Reviews option and follow the same steps for peer review in the Assignments function above. You can enable the option for peer review by checking the Use for grading box.
  4. If you feel that creating one discussion area for submission/feedback or submission/peer review would be unwieldy, you may create two and set both up the same way.
  5. You may also want to make the grading type “Complete/Incomplete” rather than specific points so you can just give participation credit rather than evaluating.
Discussion Options



Checking Progress and Viewing Completed Reviews

  1. Once students have started submitting their reviews, you can return to the peer review button off of the assignments page to keep track of who has submitted.

    Peer Review Button

    View Assigned Peer Review
  2. To confirm that your peer reviews have been assigned, go to the assignments page and click the Peer Reviews button on the right hand side.

    Peer Reviews Button

    Remember they won’t be auto assigned until they turn in. Check it after they’ve turned it in. You can use this page to check to see whether or not students have completed the reviews. There will be a green check mark if they have and a yellow exclamation point if they haven’t.

    Tracking Completed Reviews

    If the student has done the review (they have done a mark-up but not left comments), they have to make at least one comment in order for the review to appear. See the Student View section to learn more.
  3. Once all of the peer reviews have been submitted, if you would like to access the actual comments, assess, or add comments of your own, you can do so by going to the speedgrader function.



The Student View in Peer Review

1. Once students have been assigned their peer reviews, they will see a list of their assigned reviews:

Submission Details

2. Next, students will click on their peers' names to access their drafts.

3. From there, a document review screen will open. Students can click the preview icon to see their peer’s text and open Canvas’s in-text comment options.

Document Review

4. Students are able to comment in multiple ways, the "Add a Comment" function allows them to include a brief note.

Add Comment Box

5. Students are also able to make comments directly on the draft by using Canvas''“Comment” options, pictured below.

Comment Options

6. Once finished, students might want to attach a file (if appropriate), but will also need to save.

Save Comments

7. After saving, Canvas will display a confirmation message above your students' peer’s text. Note that they may have to refresh the page to see the message.