Using peer review can foster student interaction and improve learning. Here is a short tutorial.
Peer reviews are a good strategy for meeting Item 5B in the CVC Rubric: Regular effective contact among students which is designed to facilitate interaction with and about the course content.
There are two native Canvas tools, described below, that can be used for peer review. Each has advantages and disadvantages; the final choice will depend on your specific goals in the assignment. In our class we used the peer review feature of Canvas. Consider your experience with these tools as a student in this class - what advantages and disadvantages did you notice?
Canvas allows you to add peer reviews to an assignment. This feature allows students to review the work of other students using annotation features like those found in SpeedGrader.
This strategy is particularly useful for assignments where students will be commenting on very specific aspects of an assignment. For example, a student can highlight a specific word in an essay or circle a specific part of a drawing.
This is also a good way to bring collaboration into the class using a tool other than the discussions board. Providing different mechanisms for interaction helps engage students with different communication styles and learning preferences. The advantage of peer review is that it helps students focus on specific aspects of the rubric and assignment.
Peer reviews can also be assignment anonymously, which can help students feel more comfortable when providing and receiving feedback. However, the annotation tool does not support anonymous annotations, so students will only be able to leave comments and use the rubric.
The disadvantage of peer review for students is that it requires them to learn a new tool. Adding too many new tools to a course can be overwhelming to some students. The key is finding the balance point between using features to engage students and limiting the cognitive load of students needing to learn how to use new tools.
One disadvantage for the instructor is that this tool can be a bit clunky to use. For example, you cannot separate the grade for the assignment from the grade for the peer review. One workaround is to create a separate assignment without a submission to grade the peer reviews. Another workaround is to add the peer review points into the rubric. However, students will use the same rubric to review each other's work, so that row can be confusing.
Discussion boards can also be used to for peer review. The advantage of this strategy is that the discussion tool is more familiar to more students. Many online classes use discussions, so students won't need to learn as many new tools. If the feedback for the assignment is more wholistic and the annotation tools would not provide particular benefit, the discussion board may be a good approach.
The discussion forum is more public than the peer review assignment. This has the advantage of students seeing more feedback, especially that of other students' approach to the assignment. This can be helpful for assignments where students are working together for a common goal.
In addition to considering the goals of the assignment, also consider student experience. The public nature of the discussion board may limit some students' comfort with the learning process. Students may be reticent about providing feedback that may be seen as critical. Students receiving the feedback may have more anxiety about being evaluated publicly.