Part 8: Fall 2018 Labs

138 Canvas Peer Review – 11.01.2018

Students naturally teach and learn from each other. The Canvas Peer Review tool allows instructors to formalize the peer learning process and saves teacher grading time. At the November 1, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants discussed how to capitalize on the Peer Review tool to promote student self-discovery and peer learning. 


  • Consider peer review for more than written assignments. For instance, instructors on campus have used it for foreign language pronunciation recordings and anatomy dissection photos.
  • Help students see the benefits of peer review by explaining the rationale for the peer feedback assignment (e.g. practice for a professional setting, opportunity to improve assignment before final grade, solidifying understanding and helping to recognize potential revisions in their own work).
  • Decide on the appropriateness of anonymity for your assignment and be aware of anonymity limitations in Canvas; even under the anonymous peer reviewer setting in Canvas, annotations made directly on a document show which student provided the feedback. Comments in a rubric on the right side, on the other hand, stay anonymous.
  • Clearly communicate deadlines for assignment submission and peer review completion to students at the outset, and recognize that late assignments may be problematic in Canvas. For example, if the “automatically assign peer reviews” setting is selected and a student submits the assignment late, no one will be assigned to review their paper, and someone who submitted may not have a peer reviewer.
  • Walk through the process together with students first to clarify questions and set expectations, and provide resources for students to reference for how-to reminders.
  • Use a rubric to guide students toward giving constructive feedback, and structure your peer review assessment to likewise foster rich feedback. Try asking students to capture and share five of their best feedback comments, providing examples of both strong and weak feedback, creating a quiz for peer review process thoughts, or holding a individual conversation for small classes.

See notes and step-by-step Canvas peer review instructions on the session’s activity sheet


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

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Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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