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Welcome to Edubytes, a newsletter focussed on emerging trends and innovations in teaching and learning in higher education. Have suggestions for our next edition? Email us at We would love to hear from you.

This month, our guest editors from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), Bosung Kim, PhD; Isabeau Iqbal, PhD; and Jason Myers have curated the first part of this edition where they will be exploring peer assessment. Bosung is an educational consultant in learning design, Isabeau is a senior educational consultant in educational leadership, and Jason works as a faculty liaison with the Faculty of Arts.


Student peer assessment is a broad term for a range of activities that engage students in the act of evaluating and providing feedback on the work of other students.

Research shows that peer assessment activities can have many benefits for student learning, these include: receiving more frequent feedback than when the instructor or teaching assistants are the only ones providing it; enabling writing activities in large classes where grading wouldn’t be logistically possible; and engaging students in the act of critical review instead of being passive recipients of feedback (Liu and Carless 2006; Cartney 2010; Nicol 2011).

Students can engage with peer assessment in many ways. It can be formative, where students give feedback on the drafts of their peers and revise their work before submitting it for instructor grading. It can also be summative, when students use a rubric to assign grades to other students. Peer assessment is also commonly used to evaluate individual group member contributions in collaborative projects.

The following articles provide greater depth about peer assessment.


Teaching and Learning Services: Peer Assessment

Are you interested in implementing peer assessment but don’t know where to start? This site has a rich set of resources for learning about, and implementing, student peer assessment organized into three categories: peer assessment of other students’ assignment, peer assessment of contributions to teamwork, and cases of peer assessment at McGill University.


Using Peer Review to Help Students Improve Their Writing

Thinking about requiring students to review and provide feedback to one another’s writing? This site discusses common challenges that instructors often encounter when incorporating peer review into their courses and provides key strategies to overcome them. In particular, if you are planning to run in-class peer review sessions, check out Planning and Guiding In-Class Peer Review which provides guidelines on what needs to be done before, during and after in-class peer-review sessions and how these can be structured, run and facilitated. Read through Commenting on Student Writing for tips and suggestions on how to prepare students for peer review.


Peer Assessment Training Workshop Resource Site

Providing students with assessment criteria is not enough for them to properly critique their peers’ work. Prior to engaging in peer assessment, students must be given a chance to develop an understanding of the criteria and learn how to provide specific and constructive feedback.

The Peer Assessment Training (PAT) online module template, developed at UBC with support from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, presents a way to prepare students—particularly those in large classes—for peer assessment using sample assignments.

Access the demo course to look at the PAT workshop template from students’ perspectives, and import the template to your course site in Canvas following this step-by-step guide if you are ready to develop one for your course.


UBC Resources on Student Peer Assessment

For UBC-generated resources including handouts and helpful links, visit the UBC Wiki page for Student Peer Assessment. For a thorough summary of peer assessment, check out Ideas and Strategies for Peer Assessment..

There are many tools which support peer assessment activities. Some commonly used tools at UBC are Canvas Peer Review; ComPAIR, for providing feedback through comparison of two peer answers; iPeer, for peer assessment on the contribution to group work; peerScholar, for instructors who want to ask students to assess the work of peers, reflect on the feedback received and/or resubmit the work; and Collaborative Learning Annotation System, for a peer feedback activity on videos, audios, images and pdfs made by students. The Summary of Peer-Based Assessment Tools and Peer-Based Assessment - Comparison Chart can help instructors understand the affordability and limitations of each tool.


The following articles were chosen by our editorial committee.


How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Course

With a broad range of learning tools available, it can be challenging to determine which technology to use in your class. This article provides useful tips and strategies on how to select technology by emphasizing key pedagogical considerations of courses to determine the learning objectives and context. This article also draws attention to elements such as access, technical features, and cost.


A Place for Policy: The Role of Policy in Supporting Open Educational Resources and Practices

How can institutions of higher learning structurally improve the uptake and practices of open educational resources (OER)? This study, commissioned by eCampusOntario, considers the benefits of OER, their practices, and the obstacles hindering their uptake at colleges and universities. Focusing on institutional guidelines this report makes the case that targeted policies can remove some of the most important obstacles facing open education.


Teaching Online Will Make You a Better Teacher in Any Setting

Kevin Gannon, a professor of history at Grand View University, details three aspects of online teaching that have made him a better instructor, no matter the setting. Teaching online lead him to thoughtfully consider every decision he made about his course design and implementation, helped reveal the importance of how he communicated with students, and prompted him to be more transparent in explaining how his course worked. Gannon states that teaching online demands the type of critically reflective practice that can transform instructors into better overall teachers.


Comment, Reply, Repeat: Engaging Students With Social Annotation

Social annotation tools allow students to highlight passages within online readings where they can leave comments or engage in discussions with other peers in class about the materials. This article reveals the findings instructors at Simon Fraser University had, as they piloted activities using the tool in three courses to evaluate the learning benefits of social annotation.


Explain it to Me: The Beneficial Effects of Explaining for Memory

Many studies have shown that retrieval practice is an effective strategy to promote student learning. Having students explain concepts to peers has also shown to have positive learning benefits. Which of these two approaches is more effective? This article explores that question and summarizes some recent studies that shed more light on the effectiveness of each approach.

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