A couple of years ago I started to think about how to improve academic writing for my students. I developed a facilitated peer-review process (Törlind 2019) that I implemented in one of my courses Product and production design. In the course students work in small teams, each team consist of 4 students that go through a traditional design process with five phases. Students know when and what they should deliver at each stage gate, then it’s up to the students to decide which methods are suitable for performing the design. At each stage-gate students present their progress and receive critique, the also produce a4-page written ProcessMemo(PM).

The process with four design reviews and a final documentation

I read a lot about peer-reviews and also thought about my previous experience of doing peer-reviews in class, one thing that was obvious is that it is not so easy to perform a peer-review the first time you do it. So I thought up a system on how to facilitate this process and make it as quick as possible. In short all students (About 50-65) comes to one large lecture hall and we go through the process together, discuss common problems etc. The details are described in Törlind (2019).

The facilitated peer review process used in the first two reviews.

The process worked well for several years, and the students really appreciated the systematic way of performing the peer-review.  This year it was completely different because of the COVID19 virus and we could not bring all students together.

Implementing a distributed approach 

So I decided to perform almost the same setup but using zoom instead. This year we had 45 students (one was not able to join the review). And I invited to a normal zoom meeting where I manually divided the peer-reviews so that each PM was reviewed by 3 or 4 other students. I also pre-assigned students to break out rooms (so that all students reviewing the same PM  would be in the same team).

  1. Intro by me explaining the process (10 min, everyone) 
  2. Each student read trough their assigned PM (5 min, individual)
  3. Go through common errors (15 min, large group)
  4. A detailed read-through of PM, feedback trough the rubric in Canvas (30 min, individual) 
  5. Reviewers discuss their assessment write a recommendation on what to improve, (20 min, review groups)
  6. Reflection and feedback (10 min, everyone)


The process worked quite nicely and most students appreciated the collaborative discussion. Also, the pre-assigned break out rooms worked flawlessly.
Feedback done in Mentimeter

Most students wanted more time for discussions (we had 20 min for this) and it was a bit short because they should also write a recommendation from the group on what was the most important parts to improive. This was previously done orally in the co-located peer-review session.

I think that the interface for creating peer-review on group assignments in Canvas is really bad. Also, I think I  will create templates in Google docs so that the review group can collaborate and write the feedback to the team together instead of individually using Canvas peer-review system.


Facilitated peer-review (on distance)