Peer feedback refers to an activity where colleagues or students receive comments and suggestions from their peers or classmates.
It is believed to be beneficial for helping both the giver and receiver of feedback to garner new insights, widen their thinking, correct errors, learn through teaching, and see how others approach tasks in different ways.
In education, the peer feedback generally does not affect assigned grades, but it does play a valuable role in formative assessment.
Peer Feedback Examples
- “Great job on the presentation! Your visuals were engaging, and you clearly communicated the main points.”
- “I noticed that you’ve been very proactive in taking on new tasks. Keep up the good work!”
- “Your attention to detail in the report was impressive. The data was well-organized and easy to understand.”
- “I think you could benefit from speaking more confidently during meetings. Maybe try rehearsing your points beforehand.”
- “Your teamwork skills are outstanding. You consistently make an effort to include everyone’s ideas and reach a consensus.”
- “During the brainstorming session, you came up with innovative solutions. Your creativity is a valuable asset to the team.”
- “Your time management skills have improved significantly. Keep up the great work in prioritizing and completing tasks on time.”
- “I observed that you sometimes get sidetracked during discussions. Staying focused on the agenda could help you contribute more effectively.”
- Your written communication is clear and concise, which makes it easy for everyone to understand your ideas.
- “When you’re leading a meeting, try to maintain eye contact with your audience. It helps to create a better connection and keeps everyone engaged.”
- You’ve been doing an excellent job in providing constructive criticism to our teammates. Your input is helping everyone improve.”
- “Your patience and willingness to help others with their tasks have made a noticeable difference in our team’s overall productivity.”
- “In the future, consider double-checking your work before submitting it. This will help minimize errors and ensure a higher quality output.”
- “I appreciate how you always encourage others to share their ideas during team discussions. It fosters a collaborative environment.”
- “You consistently stay calm under pressure, which helps our team maintain focus during stressful situations.”
- “Your ability to delegate tasks effectively has significantly improved our team’s efficiency. Keep up the good work!”
- “I noticed that you sometimes interrupt others during conversations. Being more aware of this behavior will help create a more inclusive environment.”
- Your enthusiasm and positive attitude are contagious, making it a pleasure to work with you.
- “You have a talent for explaining complex concepts in simple terms. This skill has been invaluable in helping our team understand new information.”
- “I’ve observed that you’re very responsive to feedback and quick to implement changes. Your adaptability is a real asset to our team.”
- “Your ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously is impressive. Your organizational skills contribute to our team’s success.
- “You have a knack for asking thought-provoking questions that lead to deeper discussions and better solutions.”
- “I appreciate your commitment to professional development. Your willingness to learn new skills and share your knowledge benefits the entire team.”
- “During group projects, you excel at keeping everyone on track and ensuring that deadlines are met. Your leadership skills contribute to our team’s cohesion.”
- “You consistently show empathy and understanding when interacting with colleagues, which fosters a supportive work environment for everyone.”
Peer Feedback Definition
Liu and Carless (2006) define peer feedback as:
“…a communication process through which learners enter into dialogues related to performance and standards” (p. 280).
Peer feedback can be arranged as a one-on-one activity or in small groups. It can be implemented as a role-play, occur in meetings, the classroom or online, or be delivered anonymously to avoid social issues.
It is usually considered a classroom activity for students, but it can also be utilized with teachers and in the workplace.
For example, colleagues can examine one another’s work and offer valuable insights to increase effectiveness and productivity.
5 Important Peer Feedback Strategies
- Focus on behavior, not the person: When providing feedback, concentrate on specific actions or behaviors, rather than making it about the individual. This ensures the feedback is professional and minimizes personal insult.
- Be timely: Feedback occurs best when it happens close to the event. Offer feedback as soon as possible, such as in a debrief at the end of a session. This ensures that it is fresh in both your mind and the recipient’s, making it more relevant and useful.
- Use open-ended questions: Feedback shouldn’t just be one-way communication. By talking back and forth, you can elicit better insights and be more helpful. So, encourage reflection and self-assessment by asking questions that require thoughtful responses, such as “What do you think went well in that presentation?” or “How do you feel you could improve your teamwork?”
- Practice active listening: Give your full attention to the person you are providing feedback to, and ensure you understand their perspective well. You may have misunderstood something, which may undermine the quality of your feedback. Furthermore, active listening helps create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
- Maintain a positive tone: Frame your feedback in a way that is supportive and motivating, rather than negative or accusatory. This encourages your peer to be open to your suggestions and feel more confident in making changes. One strategy I like to use is the complement sandwich, which means you should open and close all feedback sessions with genuine and positive points.
Benefits of Peer Feedback
1. Supports Perspective-Taking
When evaluating the work of a peer, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of a teacher or manager. This helps us understand the situation from a new point of view and will help us build perspective-taking skills.
Similarly, when delivering feedback to a peer, we need to consider how this will affect the person’s self-esteem. This is another form of perspective-taking that will help the feedback giver to develop emotional intelligence.
2. Helps us how to take Criticism
Feedback is a part of life. It occurs not only in school settings, but throughout adulthood as well. Employees receive feedback from supervisors, sometimes on a daily and hourly basis, and always in an annual performance evaluation.
Learning how to handle both positive and negative feedback is therefore a valuable skill to acquire. It is better to gain some experience handling criticism in the safety of a classroom than in a formal employment situation.
3. Increased Awareness of Grading Procedures
Because a student’s self-identity can be directly tied to their work, negative feedback can prevent them from understanding the logical basis for the criticism. This is a basic self-defense mechanism.
However, by looking at classwork from the perspective of an evaluator, it helps students understand the rationale behind grading procedures.
Students can develop a sense of objectivity in assessment and see the link between performance and grading criteria.
4. Can be more Effective than Authority Feedback
Both children and adults are sometimes more receptive to feedback from peers than authority figures.
Especially during the teen years, any communication from an adult is met with resistance. It’s just a state of mind during those years.
However, when feedback comes from a peer they may listen more carefully. Of course, that depends heavily on the other student’s delivery and status in the social order of the school.
5. Can Improve Academic Performance
When students have a clearer understanding of grading procedures, it can improve their academic performance. They construct a more comprehensive conception of quality that they then apply to their own work.
Students often find that after participating in peer feedback, as recipient and presenter, they need less feedback from the teacher to improve upon their own performance.
6. Exposure to Multiple Perspectives
When peer feedback is designed so that two or more students provide feedback on a student’s work, it provides different perspectives.
Each student providing the feedback may offer suggestions that reflect different points of view, sometimes even contrasting viewpoints.
This benefits the student receiving the feedback. They can see how their work is viewed from different angles and it exposes them to ideas they may not have considered previously.
Weaknesses of Peer Feedback
1. Social Obstacles
There are several possible social issues that can make peer feedback less effective. Obviously, peers that are friends may be reluctant to deliver criticism to each other.
Animosity among peers or power dynamics in the social order of the school can make a student less receptive to any feedback at all. When students refuse to listen to a peer it makes the feedback process ineffective.
In other cases, for a student that lacks confidence or social status, having their ideas ignored or rejected may damage their self-esteem. This in-turn will make them less willing to participate in the future.
2. Creates Social Conflicts
When one person criticizes the work of another, it can create a whole host of social problems. It can lead to tension, quarrels, harsh feelings, or escalate previous conflicts.
Students will be acutely aware of these possibilities. This may make them reluctant to be honest or participate at all.
But in the workplace, it can also cause power struggles and undermine the collegial atmosphere, especially if the feedback-giver has not effectively or professionally communicated their feedback.
3. Surface Level Suggestions
Peers may not be able to offer valuable suggestions. Their knowledge of standards may be minimal. Their ability to engage in critical-analysis may not be well-developed. And, they may be unable to articulate advice that will allow a student to make meaningful adjustments to their work.
This means that any feedback offered is unlikely to produce significant benefits to the student receiving that feedback.
4. Time Consuming
Peer feedback activities are sometimes very time consuming. The coordination of the activity and the process itself takes time away from other instruction.
The manager ot teacher may also feel compelled to check on the feedback and make adjustments as necessary, which is also quite time consuming.
All in all, a cost-benefit analysis may lead some teachers to conclude that the amount of time it takes to do peer feedback does not pay the dividends that make it worthwhile.
Peer feedback involves peers evaluating the work of each other. There are many options for doing this.
For example, for those that like to incorporate technology, there are the Google and Microsoft platforms that enable students to post their work and receive feedback from peers.
Schools also utilize peer feedback so that teachers can hear valuable suggestions from colleagues. These feedback sessions can take place in small groups that focus on a specific lesson. Other versions help teachers collaborate on various issues to create schoolwide consistency across the curriculum.
There are numerous benefits to peer feedback. For instance, students develop a better understanding of grading procedures, rationale, and criteria.
In addition to building EQ skills that help peers learn how to deliver criticism in a positive way, they also learn how to receive negative feedback.
Of course, there are potential negatives as well. For example, peers may be reluctant to jeopardize friendships or reject suggestions coming from peers that lack status as authority figures.
Bijami, M., Kashef, S. H., & Sharafinejad, M. (2013). Peer feedback in learning English writing: Advantages and disadvantages. Journal of Studies in Education, 3, 91-97.
Liu, N.-F., & Carless, D. (2006). Peer feedback: The learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 279–290.
Stančić, M. (2021) Peer assessment as a learning and self-assessment tool: a look inside the black box. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 46(6), 852-864.
Wiliam, D. (2018). Embedded Formative Assessment (2nd ed). Bloomington, Indiana: Solution Tree Press.