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Peer Review of Writing Online

by Richard Giles Smith | 17 Mar 2021
Resource Description: An example activity for implementing online peer review of writing amongst students.  Peer review is when a student’s output is reviewed by a student in the same class or cohort.
Audience: Adult, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Duration: 40 mins + 40 mins (+ out of class assignments)
Materials and Technology:
  • Online file sharing system, such as OneDrive, or discussion board 

  • Online poll system such as Mentimeter 

  • Online collaborative document such as Padlet  

  • Online meeting system such as Zoom, including the ability to share files and breakout into small groups 

  • Computer + Internet 

  • A draft writing piece from students and an example draft writing piece for practice reviewing 

  • Peer Review Questions 

  • Clarification Questions 

  • Review and revise as part of the writing process 

  • Understand the audience for a piece of writing  

  • Collaborate, discuss, and negotiate as part of the writing process 

  • Comprehend the content, language, and structure needed for clear writing 

  • Develop resilience and openness needed for receiving and implementing feedback 


By the end of this activity a student will; 

  • understand the benefits of participating in peer review. 

  • be practiced in the writing production stages of reviewing and revising. 

  • be able to give a peer review at the required level and in the required format. 

  • produce a piece of writing that has been reviewed and revised. 

Activity Description:
  1. Prepare the students to participate in peer review by discussing their questions about peer review and the benefitsUse an online poll, such as Mentimeter, to ask “How do you feel about another student reading your draft writing now?”, “What are the potential benefits of receiving feedback from another student?” & “Do you have any problems or questions about receiving feedback from another student?”. Highlight the benefits of peer review including; sharing new ideas, spotting mistakes, encouragement, feedback from peers is less intimidating, becoming aware of class level, and writing for an audience.   Problems can also be noted on an online whiteboard and countered.

  2.  Introduce the peer review questions and concept check.  Peer review questions should be both specific and allow more open answers. For example, see attached ‘Peer Review Questions’.

  3.  The mechanics of giving the peer review and the content of the peer review should be clearly modelled.  Give students time to read an example draft writing text.   Demonstrate the method of cutting and pasting Peer Review Questions to discussion board or collaborative document.  Then complete an example peer review.  Check understanding and discuss the given review.

  4.  Put the students into small groups in breakout rooms. Share the example text and the Peer Review Questions with the breakout rooms. The small groups should work together on a peer review of the example draft writing. This should then be added to the discussion board or collaborative document. The peer reviews given by the small groups can then be checked and discussed as a class.

  5.  Assign pairs for peer review within the classAn out of class assignment should then be given for the students to peer review the other student’s draft writing pieceThe peer review should be completed within a timely manner i.e. within 1 week, or by the next class.

  6.  Once the review has been given, the review should be discussed in class between the reviewer and the writer. This can be done online by creating breakout groups for each peer review pair to meet in. Clarification questions can be used to guide the discussion (see the attached Post Peer Review Clarification Questions).

  7.  After time has been given to discuss in pairs, return to the whole class to share what has been learnt. Discussing what the reviewers liked in the writing is a positive discussion point. 

  8.  Elicit and board the stages in the writing process; Analyse, plan, draft, review, revise. Elicit the potential elements of revision – structure (thesis, conclusion, transitional language…) content (main points, explanation), language (spelling, word forms, sentence structure). Students should then reflect on the revision points suggested by the peer review, discuss them in small groups and add them to a collaborative document. For example, suggested revision points can be posted to Padlet – using the title “What revision changes will you make to your writing?” and the revision headings; structure, language, and content. Then review the Padlet with the whole class.

  9.  Set students the task to write the revised writing piece, as an out of class assignment.


Berg, E. C. (2011). Preparing ESL Students for Peer Response. TESOL Journal, 8: 20-25. Retrieved from 

Best, K., Jones-Katz, L., Smolarek, B., Stolzenburg, M., & Williamson, D. (2015, June). Listening to Our Students: An Exploratory Practice Study of ESL Writing Students' Views of Feedback. TESOL Journal, 332-367. 

Bhowmik, S. H. (2019). Peer collaborative writing in the EAP classroom: Insights from a Canadian postsecondary context. TESOL Journal10:e393. Retrieved from 

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., . . . Mong, C. (2007). Using Peer Feedback to Enhance the Quality of Student Online Postings: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12: 412-433. Retrieved from 

Uploaded Files:
TESOL Interest Section: English for Specific Purposes, Higher Education, Second Language Writing, Secondary Schools