Improving the Effectiveness and Benefits of Peer Review

Workshop Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Critical thinking and reflection are difficult to facilitate/ assess in professional education. Peer review is an active technique that provides students opportunities to build these skills and we will introduce unique methods for both preparing students for peer review and assessing their learning through a technology tool supporting double-looped feedback.


Jennipher Murphy is the Director of Educational and Faculty Support at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. She started out in education teaching in K-12 before getting her Master’s in Education with a focus in Online Teaching and Learning from California State University East Bay. After graduating, she was a curriculum and technology consultant working with K-12, Higher Education and the private sector providing strategic vision for effective design, delivery and student engagement for both F2F and online. She is experienced in interfacing with communities, groups and individuals and has been successful because of her ability to think outside the box and overcoming barriers. She demonstrates strong leadership skills by inspiring others to work in complex and changing environments as Chair of the Teaching and Learning in an Environment of New Technologies (TALENT) committee and working alongside the Academic Dean to implement the 2020 Curriculum Revision. She has experience leading teaching and learning pilots and scaling them to university-wide level and has a strong focus on Innovative Pedagogy and leading an institution through culture changes. In addition, she actively searches for collaborations with other schools and has presented workshops at a number of teaching and learning conferences.

Extended Abstract

In professional education, testing has traditionally been the prime way to evaluate student learning. Unfortunately, most testing decontextualizes the tested material and reduces the evaluation to a single score rather than a more holistic assessment. Now, the testing era is slowly changing to include more formative and summative assessments which create more active learning environments, giving students opportunities for critical thinking, evaluation and reflection. One example of an active technique is peer review, which is formative and encourages students to become more responsible and reflective thinkers.

TUSDM piloted an online-based peer-review tool in the Research Methodology course that allows for double-looped feedback. Students switch between the roles of active evaluator and receiver, while the faculty plays the role of the facilitator.  Peer review is a way for students to receive feedback as they work on a project, granting them the ability to make adjustments before the final submission. This kind of formative feedback is critical to allowing students to improve their work by reflecting on constructive feedback and supports development of 21st century skills. Peer review also provides mental “scaffolding” that allows student to build on each other’s learning for a more effective learning experience.

Some of the most salient shortcomings of peer review is in properly preparing students for the peer review strategy and the uneven quality of feedback. Student evaluators are often afraid to give negative feedback and may be unsure how much feedback to share, while students receiving feedback may feel that it is not relevant. The pilot program employed preparation strategies and a technology tool that allowed a double-looped review, whereby student evaluators provide feedback and the student assesses the quality of the feedback received, creating benefit for both parties. We will share the pilots promising results, describe areas for improvement, and discuss quality constructive feedback, as well as students’ perception of evaluation process.


1. The activity will focus on breaking down constructive feedback to how it makes a person feel and how both the giver and receiver might interpret/react to feedback. (20 min)

Learning Objective:

  • Faculty will apply four types of verbal feedback: positive feedback, negative feedback, absence of feedback and directed positive feedback, and discuss.

2. The activity will introduce faculty to peer review of writing and using a peer review technology tool. (40 min)

Learning Objectives:

  • Faculty will demonstrate collaborative peer review

  • Faculty will discuss appropriate practices of peer review

  • Faculty will conduct peer review and double-looped feedback