How to Set up a Peer Review in Moodle

How to Set up a Peer Review in Moodle

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Moodle has an activity type called a Workshop that is designed for individual students to peer review each other’s work. The Workshop activity is set up in phases that the facilitator has to move through. Each student submits a file or text to the Workshop in the Submission phase. The teacher can choose in the Workshop settings whether or not to allow for late submissions. Then students are assigned to give peer review feedback to one or more other students. The teacher can choose to assign these randomly or manually. Students receive a grade for the activity based on both their initial submission and the feedback they give to others. Teachers have several options to control the settings for how the feedback is scored. In the final phase, the Workshop is closed and students can see the feedback they received from their peers.

There are also several different places where the designer has to set up instructions in the Workshop settings. We will highlight a few of these places along with some salient features of the Workshop below.

Workshop stages

Once you add a Workshop activity to your Moodle course, if you go into the settings for it and click “Save and display,” you will see a screen like the one above that shows the five phases. The places where you need to add instructions are noted, and will be indicated by grey checkmarks until you add text to them when they will turn into green checkmarks. Some of the most important places to set up initially are:

  • The workshop description: This is just like the description boxes in other Moodle activities and is the place you can give an overview of the assignment.
  • Provide instructions for submission: These are the instructions that students will see in the Submission phase of the Workshop. You will want to write these instructions to explain the file or text you want them to submit in order to be peer reviewed.
  • Edit assessment form: This is the place where you add the questions that students will answer as they do the peer review. The questions you add will be formatted as essay questions. You can add as many as you like. There is also an option you can check to add a place for overall comments at the end. If you choose to include this overall question, you can choose to make it optional or required.
  • Provide instructions for assessment: These are the instructions that students will see in the Assessment phase of the Workshop when they are peer reviewing other students’ submissions. You will want to write these instructions to explain your expectations for the peer review portion of the activity.
  • Provide a conclusion to the workshop: This is the message students will see after they submit feedback to their peers during the Assessment phase.

Features of the Workshop

One nice feature of the Workshop is that you have the option to provide example submissions that students can use to practice giving feedback before they are asked to give feedback to their peers. This can be enabled in the Workshop settings.

Another nice feature is the ability to control how many peer reviews students are assigned to complete. Each student might be asked to review the submissions of 3 of their peers, and the teacher could have Moodle make those assignments randomly or decide to assign them herself manually. There is even a setting option that controls if students could be assigned to give feedback to themselves. In other words, would the student’s own submission be included in the pool of submissions they might be assigned to review? If you have a small class of only 5 students, perhaps you would want each student to review all 5 submissions, review their own work and compare it with their peers. But in a larger class of 20 students who are each doing 2 peer reviews, perhaps you would not want to allow self-evaluations to make sure that each student gets the benefit of comments by two outside reviewers.

In the Grading settings, you can decide how much weight to give to the submission and how much to the assessment. You can also categorize each part in the gradebook individually. This might be useful if the submission is calculated with the other papers as a gradebook category and you want the assessment to count in the participation category.

During the Grading evaluation phase of the Workshop, you can set the Grading evaluation method (which defaults to Comparison with the best assessment) and the Grading evaluation settings anywhere from Very strict to Very lax. If you set them as relatively lax, then students are more likely to receive credit for completing the assignment. If you set them as relatively strict, then students will be graded on how closely their feedback was to the standard set by the “best” assessment. This basically means that Moodle is evaluating how similar the students’ assessments are to each other, rather than to any objective standard. If three students evaluated a single paper and two of them said “Good job,” and one said, “Terrible job,” then the two would get a better score than the one. This is independent of whether or not the paper itself was good or poor.

Limitations of the Workshop

The Workshop is very time sensitive as it has so many phases. It is labor intensive for the facilitator who has to manually move the Workshop activity from phase to phase. But the time-sensitive nature can also become problematic if several students do not submit their work on time.

  • Late submissions of the original files can be allowed in the Submission phase. However, if Juan is assigned to peer review Maria and Maria submits her file late, then Juan cannot give feedback until Maria submits her file. So Juan has to wait for Maria to submit before he is able to fulfill his part of the peer review.
  • In the Assessment phase, if a student does not give feedback on another student’s submission before the deadline, there is no way to allow for late submission of assessments once the Workshop is moved into the next phase. If Maria (who has been very busy caring for her sick mother and neglecting her schoolwork) is assigned to peer review Josue, and she doesn’t get to it, then Josue doesn’t get any feedback.

When all of the learners understand the time-sensitive nature of the Workshop activity and are committed to respecting the deadlines to help each other out, this tool can work well for collaboration and feedback.

Another limitation of the Workshop is that it only works for individual to peer review other individuals. It does not function for groups to peer review other groups. For that, we have to use a different tool.


A Moodle Questionnaire is not necessarily designed for peer review, but it is possible to enable the responses to the Questionnaire to be made visible to the students. This feature means that it can be used for peer review activities. We use it for peer reviews at Horizon, especially for group peer reviews.

After adding a Questionnaire activity to your course, you will need to go into the settings and look in the Response options area. One option is called “Students can view ALL responses.” In the dropdown menu, you will need to select either “Always” or “After answering the questionnaire.” If you select “After answering the questionnaire,” then students will have to give feedback in order to see the feedback their group has received.

Let’s say you have four groups in your course–we’ll call them Groups A, B, C, and D. Groups A and B are going to peer review each other’s projects and Groups C and D are going to peer review each other’s projects. You would probably want to duplicate the Questionnaire so you have one version for Groups A and B to use and a separate version for Groups C and D to use. In the settings, you would need to go into Restrict access and add a restriction by group that the student must match any of Group A or Group B in the first Questionnaire, and similarly for Group C or Group D in the second Questionnaire.

Group access restrictions

This means that a student in Group A can see the submissions made by all of the Group B members giving feedback to her group. It also means that she can see the submissions that all the members of Group A gave to Group B, which may be unnecessary. But she cannot see the feedback that Groups C and D gave to each other.

PRO TIP: If you have an odd number of groups and need to do a round-robin peer review with three groups, you can set up three Questionnaires, one each for Groups A, B, and C. Groups B and C are assigned as students to the Questionnaire for Group A (using the Restrict access feature). Then you open the Questionnaire and click on the settings gear in the upper right hand corner and choose “Locally assigned roles” from the menu. There you can select “Reviewer” (or “Non-editing teacher” if reviewer is not an option) and assign the members of Group A to be reviewers just for their Questionnaire. This means that they can see the responses as a teacher would, but are not assigned to submit to it as students. This does not give them Reviewer status for the entire course—only for the single Questionnaire activity.

You can set up questions in the Questionnaire that the students will answer to give peer review feedback to one another. One benefit of the Questionnaire over the Workshop is that you can include types of questions other than essay questions.

One drawback of the Questionnaire is that you have to use an alternate method of providing the actual file that will be reviewed. So a group peer review actually requires two separate Moodle activities. You might use a Forum where groups upload their papers or presentations for the other groups to view and then go answer the peer review questions in the Questionnaire. If you have a small number of groups, groups could submit to an Assignment and then you as the teacher could post links to the relevant files in the Questionnaire descriptions.


If your institution uses TurnItIn (a paid subscription service that integrates with Moodle), the TurnItIn Assignments have a peer review function that can be enabled. The benefit of this is that students submit to the Assignment as usual, and the peer review is an optional feature that can be added to a regular TurnItIn Assignment. The drawback is that the peer review function in TurnItIn is a bit confusing to use. We recommend experimenting with it yourself and writing detailed instructions for your students if it will be their first time doing a peer review in TurnItIn.

Using Images in Moodle