Perfecting Peer Review with PeerMark

Dr Nick Jakubovics

School of Dental Sciences

Medical Sciences

What did you do?

In Stage 2 of the BDS degree in Dental Surgery students complete a 1500 word research essay. An important part of the assessment process involves students marking and providing feedback about one essay written by their peers. We’ve tried a few different ways of doing this but are now using PeerMark, a system which is available through Turnitin.

Graduate Framework

This approach develops the following attributes:

  • Critical Thinkers
  • Collaborative
  • Resilient
  • Confident
  • Engaged

Staff can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.

Who is involved?

Dr Nick Jakubovics, Senior Lecturer, School of Dental Sciences

Lauri Madge, Examinations, Assessment and Admission Co-ordinator, School of Dental Sciences

Stage 2 students studying the BDS degree.

Staff from the Library who deliver sessions focused on literature searching skills and reading academic papers.

How did you do it?

We provide a set of essay titles which require students to review the evidence base for their topic and develop a thorough understanding of primary research and how they should engage with this.

As part of the assessment process students submit a draft which is then peer reviewed by another student.  We set up a rubric to help students provide feedback when they are reviewing the essay and PeerMark makes it really easy for students to input their feedback.

Once students receive their feedback they have about a few days to make improvements and then submit their updated essay.

Other approaches we tried in the past include physically getting students together in a room and swapping paper copies of their essays. This did result in a few logistical problems so we moved to using PeerMark last year. This system makes the process of allocating essays to be marked easier and does this randomly.

Why did you do it?

The General Dental Council (GDC) state that students need to be able to ‘give and receive feedback effectively’ and this exercise provides the perfect opportunity for them to do this.

This particular assessment ensures that students are able to perform effective literature searches and engage with primary research, an important skill for this and many other degrees. Another aim was to introduce students to the experience of peer review, something that they will experience in their academic and professional careers.

It also provides a useful opportunity for students to make improvements as a result of the feedback from their peers. Sometimes the process of giving feedback also makes students think about their own essays from a different perspective and ultimately make improvements.

Does it work?

The majority of students engage well with the process and are able to use the feedback to make improvements to their draft essays.

There are a small number of issues where some students feel they put a lot of effort into providing feedback but don’t really get the same in return. We have tried to address this by making sure that we give clear guidance about how to provide feedback and managing expectations of the students.

We are looking forward to asking students for their feedback this year as we think the small improvements we have made will make sure that the process is even more effective.

Interested in finding out more?

Contact Nick using the details below or if you need help using PeerMark get in touch with

Contact Details

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics smiling





Dr Nick Jakubovics, Senior Lecturer


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