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Digital Toolbox: Facilitating Peer Feedback and Reviews

by Audra Anjum, Jeff Kuhn, and Patrick Mose from the Office of Instructional Innovation.

At a Glance 

Enabling peer feedback on your class assignments offers many benefits. OIT’s suite of tools allows for different types and levels of peer review and feedback. In general, peer feedback can be:

  • Peer-to-peer anonymous: The student cannot see the name of their reviewer(s), and feedback is delivered privately to the student.

  • Peer-to-peer directed: The student can see the name of their reviewer(s), and feedback is delivered privately or publicly to the student.  

  • Gallery: The student can see the name of their reviewer(s), and the feedback is delivered publicly to the student, available for all to see.  

The platform you choose to facilitate a peer feedback activity with your students may depend on several factors, including the type of feedback you want students to provide, whether the peer feedback aspect will be graded, and the format of your students’ work (video, paper, presentation, design, etc).

Feature Comparison Tool

Feature  Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment & TurnItIn Peermark  Blackboard Discussion Boards  VoiceThread  MS Teams/OneDrive File Sharing 
Peer-to-peer anonymous  Yes  Yes  No  Yes, not recommended 
Peer-to-peer directed  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes 
Gallery option   No Yes  Yes  Yes 
Iterative feedback option  No Yes  No Yes 
Supported filetypes for student projects  Document-based submissions  Any, but peers may need to download to open  Many different filetypes supported  Any, but
peers may need to download to open 
Blackboard grade center integration for peer reviews  Yes  Yes  No  No 

Tool Exploration 

The following tools are presented in order from easiest to most complex to set up. However, each offers affordances that may be appropriate for the experience you’re designing for your students.

Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment & TurnItIn Peermark 

Both the Self and Peer Assessment tool and the TurnItIn Peermark tool are already built into Blackboard, making their integration into your gradebook straightforward. These tools were designed specifically for peer feedback activities, so their interfaces will walk you through the steps of setting up your assignments.  

These tools are best used for written assignments with individual rounds of feedback that have grades attached to them. Both tools afford reviewer anonymity, and the feedback will be made available to students through the Blackboard portal. 

  • Possible feedback types: Peer-to-peer anonymous and peer-to-peer directed 
  • Possible assignment types: Written work (recommended use) and images converted to PDF 
  • Best use: Use either of these tools when (1) your students have submitted a paper or document assignment, (2) you want peer reviewers to receive credit or grades for their reviews, and (3) you want those grades to go directly into the grade center.  

Blackboard Discussion Boards 

The Blackboard Discussion Boards offer a quick and easy platform to collect and deliver feedback on student work in a public setting. This platform is most helpful when you want multiple students to chime in on assignment submissions, possibly with rounds of revisions and more feedback. 

  • Possible feedback types: Gallery (some anonymous functionality also available)
  • Possible assignment types: Any, but keep in mind that students’ work must be downloaded or viewed either from the discussion board thread or from another shared space, such as OneDrive or MS Stream 
  • Best use: Use the Blackboard Discussion Boards tool when you want to create a public space where students can share their work and get open feedback from their peers. It is possible to allow all students to post anonymously also, though students would need to remove any identifiable information from their work, which may be difficult for certain types of assignments (like recordings of presentations or demonstrations).  


VoiceThread is an interactive multimedia platform that offers students the opportunity to leave audio or video comments on each others’ work. Enable the new Assignment Builder in your course and use the new Student Gallery feature on your assignments so that students can easily review and comment on their peers’ VoiceThreads.  

  • Possible feedback type: Gallery 
  • Possible assignment types: Presentations and other multimedia assignments 
  • Best use: If your class is already using VoiceThread to deliver presentations and to facilitate asynchronous audio and video discussions, consider adding a peer review component by enabling the new assignment builder feature and activating the gallery view for the assignment. Direct reviewers to the assignment gallery so they can provide feedback or other comments.  

MS Teams, OneDrive, & OneNote Notebooks 

Microsoft’s Office 365 suite is ideal for class projects and peer reviews that do not fit easily into more common categories and are iterative, ongoing, or dynamic. If you are using Microsoft Teams for your course already, your students already have access to a shared document library, OneNote class notebooks, and shared spaces that can be used to set up collaboration spaces to work on group work or individual student work. There are many different ways to design peer review experiences for students using the suite of tools, so it may be helpful to speak with an instructional designer.

  • Possible feedback types: Peer-to-peer anonymous, peer-to-peer directed, and gallery  
  • Possible assignment types: Any filetype is supported, but unique filetypes may not allow for full functionality with annotation tools and other collaboration features 
  • Best use: Use a combination of Microsoft Teams, OneNote class notebooks, and OneDrive file sharing for ongoing revisions of student work, student work that comes in rare filetypes, or iterative feedback and revision cycles. Moving these types of assignments out of Blackboard can ease the flow of information among students, reviewers, and instructors.