Peer Evaluation and Brightspace

Giving and receiving meaningful feedback is an important skill for students to develop. The peer assessment process uses feedback exchange as a structured and collaborative learning opportunity through the analysis of one another’s work.

Peer assessment can further aid in getting students to take responsibility for their own learning, engage more deeply with course material, and gain further insight through a direct exchange of ideas.

Clear guidance is essential to help in developing the skills needed for providing feedback. Building precise rubrics or example feedback statements, setting straightforward expectations, and providing accessible methods of feedback are all good practice.

This article explores various options for creating and evaluating peer-evaluation while making use of Brightspace and other educational technology tools. Brock does not have a dedicated peer evaluation tool at this time but existing tools can be leveraged to achieve the desired functionality.

Peer Evaluation and Pedagogy

Peer evaluation is a method that facilitates discussion and idea generation and gives students a chance to see how ideas are formed outside of their own biases. This process encourages equity, diversity, inclusion, and accountability in the classroom, while giving students an opportunity to provide well-meaning and constructive feedback.

It is important to establish and understand the pedagogical reasoning for utilizing peer evaluation: how it will be connected to the learning outcomes of the course.

The purpose peer evaluation plays in learning outcomes, course progression, and transferrable skills is important to establish and communicate to students. Consider what is actually being evaluated: the original submission, the peer assessment process and engagement, and any reflections or final/iterative edits. Further to these considerations is what part technology will or will not play in accomplishing the goals of the assessment.

Contact to further discuss the pedagogy behind peer evaluation.

This Inside Higher Ed article about Teaching Peer Feedback provides an overview of the obstacles faced when planning peer evaluation and suggests best practices for how to overcome them.

Considerations when planning peer evaluation

A selection of guiding questions and aspects of the peer evaluation process that should be considered:

  1. What sort of criteria and guidelines are being set for student submissions?

  1. How many submissions, and reviews per submission, are expected?

  1. What framework and guiding questions will be used in the peer evaluation form?

  1. Will the feedback provided be evaluated? Or is the feedback part of a scaffolded learning process?

  1. Will the process include self-reflection?

  1. Will there be a resubmission opportunity for students to apply received feedback?

  1. Will students be separated into groups? For submission? To compartmentalize the review process?

  1. Will reviews be done in-person? How long will the students have to complete them?

  1. Will reviewers be anonymous? Is this related to potential bias and/or accountability for students?

Peer evaluation use cases in Brightspace

The following are examples of assignments that incorporate Brightspace or other technology tools.



Notes and guides

Group presentation or project

Students are assigned to groups. 

Groups prepare a presentation or project.

Projects are shared with class.

Audience provides feedback. 

Feedback is collected and distributed. 

The Surveys tool can be used to gather information and the statistics display can efficiently accumulate quantitative feedback.

An ungraded Quiz can also be used if instructors prefer the Quiz setup over Surveys

Paper exchange



Students exchange papers with a partner or share their papers in a Discussion topic. 

Students are provided a series of guiding questions or a rubric to work through for evaluating papers to be reviewed.

Students submit an updated final draft based on feedback.

Set up students Groups and then restricted Discussions; provide guiding questions in forum/topic description. 

Submission of the final draft could happen in Assignments.

Double-blind feedback

Students submit work to instructor.

Submissions are anonymously distributed to peers. 

Students provide anonymous feedback to peers by filling out a rubric. 

Students receive feedback on original submission and evaluate its efficacy. 

Assignments can be configured to allow for multiple submissions, like a dropbox.

The work of anonymizing papers and redistributing is done manually by the instructor through the feedback attachments in Assignments.


Groups for asynchronous or synchronous collaboration and space to share files and provide feedback

Groups are created for students.

Discussion Topics are generated for the members of each Group or MS Teams channels are created for each Group.

Members can share and reply to others in Discussion Topics.

Replies are graded by instructors.

Groups can be randomly populated, assigned by an instructor, or set for student self-enrolment.

Discussions can be used to communicate feedback and allow for a less formal rating system.

Discussions can be automatically restricted to any roster entity, including Groups and official Sections (LAB, SEM, TUT, etc.)

Microsoft Teams can be used for online collaboration.

Discussions for peer evaluation

Discussion forums can be set up for students to share feedback and communicate with their peers. This is convenient if one wishes to keep course activity within Brightspace.

The Discussions tool has many features and a lot of flexibility when it comes to restrictions and grading. Student activity can go well beyond text post as it allows for students to create posts with attachments (whether it be a text document, video, PowerPoint, etc.) that can be viewed and evaluated by their peers.

Discussions can also be restricted to select groups of students..

Complete details on the available features can be found in our Discussion documentation. Group creation and management may also factor into this and guidance in that regard can be found on the Groups page.

Example Use Case

An instructor wishes to grade a student assignment and then have that same submitted file available for peer evaluation.

  • A standard Assignment submission with all necessary private feedback and grading options can be used. This is pushed to a single Grade Item,

  • Students are asked to then upload that submitted file (perhaps after it has been graded) to a prepared Discussion Topic. The Topic is set to be assessed

  • The Topic(s) can be restricted by Group membership.

  • Students reply to one another’s initial post with their feedback. The instructor can view and evaluate this conversation.

Basic Steps

The basic steps for creating a discussion area for peer evaluations are as follows:

  1. Create groups for the peer evaluation process by making use of the Brightspace Groups tool.

  2. In the Discussions area, create a Forum, and then a topic for the group discussion.

    1. Set Group and Section Restrictions on the discussion topic.

  3. If grading student submissions and peer evaluations, create an assignment in the Assignments area for students to submit their work for grading.


Peer review groups can be created using the Groups tool in Brightspace. Once you have created groups in your course, you have the option to set up group discussion forums, dropbox folders, or locker areas for students to share files with their group members. The Groups tool is great for setting up an online workspace where students can collaborate with their peers and provide feedback within Brightspace.

Related Resources:


Surveys can be used for anonymous or non-anonymous peer evaluation in Brightspace. The survey tool is especially useful for students to share feedback following in-class or online presentations. The results of the surveys are instructor facing until the instructor creates an HTML report and selects print report, which can generate a pdf to be sent to students for review.

Related Resources:

Third Party Tools

Microsoft Teams

Teams is Brock’s primary synchronous online discussion tool and can be used for communication between student group members.

Teams’ breakout rooms feature is particularly useful for peer assessment, as it allows students to collaborate and provide feedback in small groups within a larger Teams meeting. The breakout room feature can temporarily divide a meeting into separate sessions.

More structured or ongoing discussion can be facilitated in an existing course Team by creating Channels for each student group.

Related Resources:

Microsoft Forms

By using Microsoft Forms, instructors can create an evaluation guideline for students to fill out and follow, this can aid in providing constructive feedback to their peers. It is recommended this be used in tandem with the Brightspace Discussions area, which gives students a place to post their submissions to be evaluated.

This method is recommended for smaller classes, as instructors will have to be the ones to distribute the Microsoft Forms results to the students, which could prove arduous.

Related Resources:


Kritik is a third-party peer evaluation tool that pitches itself as a “peer-to-peer learning platform”. It offers options for group work, feedback exchange, and participation tracking. It does require a subscription fee for students as Brock does not have an institutional license.

Kritik has an extensive help centre that may help visualize how and when it could be used and will prove useful when working with the tool. Kritik also works hard to share use case examples through various workshops and testimonials.

The tool is already integrated with Brock’s Brightspace, which means instructors can add the tool to their Content area in their course site via the External Tools option.

In-person Peer Evaluation

Instructors may also consider an in-person peer evaluation activity, where students discuss and evaluate each others' work in-person. Students could work with hard copies of their work or perhaps post on Brightspace beforehand and then discuss in class. This may be best suited as a seminar activity or for a small class.

A clear rubric or set of expectations and feedback principles should be provided to students to adhere to principles of effective feedback and create comfortable and accountable spaces.

In-person peer evaluations could focus more on peer evaluation practice for students, as opposed to having a graded, individual evaluation.

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