Canvas Spotlight

Peer Reviews

Last updated on November 18, 2022

Use Peer Reviews in Canvas to Facilitate Learner-to-Learner Feedback

The feedback you provide to students on their submitted work is critical to their success in your course, but students can also benefit from feedback provided by their classmates. Peer reviews can be a valuable exercise, both for the reviewer and the recipient. Reviewers get experience critically examining the work of others, building skills and knowledge that they can apply when reviewing their own work: by shifting perspective, reviewers can gain new insight into the purpose of the work you’re assigning and observe other students’ strategies for meeting the criteria you’ve established for the assignment. The recipient gets a unique perspective on their work and can see how effective they were in meeting the expectations others had for the assignment. Peer reviews can also provide a meaningful avenue for student interaction that is particularly important to foster in online courses.

Canvas’ Peer Review tool is built into Assignments and is simple to implement. You can choose to have Canvas automatically assign reviewers or you can do so yourself; additionally, you can keep things anonymous so students don’t feel nervous while critiquing their classmates’ work.

Please note: Canvas does not have a built-in way to grade students directly on the act of reviewing itself. If you wish for students to receive a grade dependent on the reviews they provide, you’ll need to create a no-submission assignment and give them scores manually (see CTLD’s Add Manual Columns to the Gradebook tutorial for more information).

Best Practices

When should I use this?

  • Use Peer Reviews when students will benefit from input from their peers, such as when revising drafts of papers or evaluating experimental results. Peer Reviews can be even more effective if the Assignment has an associated Rubric, so reviewers understand exactly what criteria to evaluate. See CTLD’s Using Rubrics in Canvas spotlight for guidance on setting up Rubrics.

When should I set this up?

  • Enable Peer Reviews when creating a Canvas Assignment. If you have an existing Assignment that you’d like to enable Peer Reviews for, you can do this by editing the Assignment. When designing lengthy assignments and projects with several drafts or submissions, consider at what points in the process peer reviews would be most useful to the students.

When should I not use this?

  • Don’t use Peer Reviews if you think feedback could be confusing or misleading to the recipient or if the feedback would do little to help the recipient improve; this can be the case if Assignment instructions are too vague and reviewers don’t fully understand expectations. Additionally, Peer Reviews are not effective when students cannot immediately implement the feedback they receive. Avoid having students review final work and instead give students an opportunity to revise their work after review.

Let’s walk through it together


Create a Canvas Assignment with Peer Reviews Enabled

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas Account.
  4. Select the Course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Assignments in the left-hand course navigation menu.
  6. Click + Assignment in the top right-hand corner of the page.
  7. Enter a Name, Description, and other information for the Assignment.
    • To enable peer reviews, Submission Type can be any option other than External Tool. However, we recommend using peer reviews for Online submissions.
  8. Check the box next to Require Peer Reviews.
  9. Choose to Manually or Automatically Assign Peer Reviews.
    • If you choose to automatically assign peer reviews, you can also note how many reviews you want assigned to each student.
  10. Check the box next to Peer Reviews Appear Anonymously if you would like students to not see who reviewed their work.

Access Peer Review Menu for an Assignment

  1. Click Assignments in the left-hand course navigation menu.
  2. Click on the Assignment that you want to view Peer Reviews for.
  3. Click Peer Reviews in the top right-hand corner under Related Items.
    • This will display a list of all students and which other students they are assigned to review.
  4. Click Give [Student] another submission to assess under a student’s name to assign them another Peer Review.
  5. Click Assign Peer Reviews under Automatically Assign Reviews to randomly assign a number of reviews to each student equal to the number in the box.
    • This function will only assign completed submissions. If no student has submitted any work yet, it will not be available.