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Peer Critique

This support material is incorporated into critical challenges at grade 12, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.

Peer assessment can be a powerful means for students to receive meaningful feedback to guide their learning. Providing helpful feedback is a challenging task. Students need some guidance and an opportunity to practise.

Explain to students that a productive peer critique must be done in a critically thoughtful manner. Students must understand the intended purpose; e.g. persuade, inform, entertain, recount. They must imagine the audience; e.g. peers, adults, general public, teacher, self. Finally, they must keep in mind the issue being addressed in order to judge the degree to which an accurate, relevant and convincing response is presented.

It is important to remind students that a peer critique is not intended to offer merely praise. An effective peer critique should challenge the student receiving the critique to think more deeply or in different ways about his or her work. The focus should be to improve or extend the work. Students may use the following criteria for an effective peer critique:

  • supportive: identifies and highlights aspects of the work that are effective and/or have the potential to be very strong
  • focused: addresses the most important aspects of the task/work and avoids trivial concerns or peripheral issues
  • feasible: addresses issues that can reasonably be accomplished given the time and resources available.

Guidelines for preparing an effective peer critique may include the following:

  • Begin with positives. Identify something about the work that is positive or has the potential to be strong.
  • Use language that is supportive and inviting (e.g., I like the way you have attempted to… You might also want to try…) rather than negative and directive (e.g., The … is very poor. You need to…)
  • Ask questions for clarity. Invite consideration for ideas and direct attention to samples for guidance.
  • Avoid providing the actual revision in the feedback (e.g.,Your thesis is not clear. If you said … instead, it would be better).

Suggested revisions should focus on the most important aspects of the work. Limit suggestions to a feasible number of changes. Too many suggestions can overwhelm and trivial concerns can be frustrating.


Adapted from Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum series.  Permission granted by The Critical Thinking Consortium for use by Alberta teachers.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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