Self and peer assessment

Self assessment means the process of having the learners critically reflect upon, record the progress of and perhaps suggest grades for, their own learning. The term peer assessment refers to the process of having the learners critically reflect upon, and perhaps suggest grades for, the learning of their peers.

(Roberts,T. Self, peer, and group assessment in e-learning, Information Science, 2006)

On this page, we sometimes refer to self and peer assessment as self and peer review. Although used relatively interchangeably, assessment generally involves a quantiative element, whilst review is generally a more qualitative process. The tools discussed on this page are capable of both.

Step 1: Rationale

In order to encourage effective participation, the rationale for using self or peer assessment should be explicit to everyone involved, particularly students.

Self assessment

  • Encourage reflection
  • Help lecturers focus their feedback (e.g. not telling students what they are already aware of)
  • An important skill in itself – helping students become more autonomous learners

Peer assessment

  • Students practice softer skills e.g. constructive criticism
  • Help students learn from each other and place their own work
  • Students naturally compare themselves with their peers
  • Encourage engagement with marking criteria
  • Promote deep learning e.g. evaluation
  • More efficient & timely feedback for large groups

Race, P.(2006) The lecturer’s toolkit – a practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching Routledge.

Step 2: Design

Choosing a workflow

There are two main tools that can be used for online self and peer review: Blackboard and Turnitin. We have developed corresponding workflows for these tools: Bsp and Tsp. Choosing a workflow will depend on the particular requirements.

Comparison between Blackboard and Turnitin submission workflows
Submission method Blackboard’s Self and Peer Assessment tool Turnitin’s PeerMark tool
Initial submission File or quiz-like response File (100mb size limit)
Deadline flexibility Strict submission deadlines Some deadline flexibility
Multiple peer reviews Yes Yes
Self and/or peer review in any configuration Yes Yes
Peer review allocation Random allocation only Random or students can choose
Anonymous reviews Yes Yes
Review types Free response or numerical Free response or scale
Reviews can be graded by instructor No Yes
Original submissions can be graded by instructor No Yes
Model answers can be provided to reviewers Yes No, but can be provided through other means

Case studies

Step 3: Set up and test

Once you have selected your workflow, use the guidance below to set up and run through the workflow in a test Blackboard course with a test student (How can I add a test student). It is essential to test before using real assessments, and this will also enable you to see the student perspective. Failure to test may result in lost submissions or feedback. To request a test course or if there are any issues with your test, please contact

There are six guidance documents for each workflow. Select your workflow and then click on the icons to access the guidance documents.

Step 4: Implementation

Now you have tested your workflow you can implement it into your course. Follow the instructions in the guidance above just as you did for your test.

Tips for successful use of self and peer assessment

Step 5: Evaluation

Once the process is complete, it may be useful to use a student voice activity (eg a survey) to gather opinions on how the process went. This can help inform future self- and peer-review activities.