Peer evaluations for students worthwhile

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver




When students are asked to evaluate one another based on group performance, they often find themselves striking deals to give each other top marks. While this serves to inflate their grades, it doesn’t serve individuals who are interested in more than a student career since future work performance reviews may not always be overwhelmingly positive.

Most students would prefer to receive an easy ‘A’ grade over honest feedback, so it can be difficult to convince a group of peers not to overrate each other on performance evaluations. In these cases, where marks matter more than modesty, you can at least ask that everyone fill out two versions of the evaluation forms — one which would be submitted to the instructor and another which would remain anonymous and seen only by the person being evaluated. In doing so, everyone can still take advantage of inflated grades while getting accurate feedback on how they can improve their skills.

For classes that don’t mandate peer evaluations but do assign group projects, you can still ask your peers to complete anonymous reviews online using sites like and The results can be very revealing since students often hold back on expressing their opinions of fellow classmates until classes end, assuming that the end of class signifies the end of those relationships. These same classmates are often the best sources of honest feedback because once asked to respond anonymously, they also feel as though they can be especially straightforward when classes are over.

When creating a custom evaluation, think about the qualities that you consider most important in the person you aspire to be, as well as the skills you would need to excel in a work environment. Custom evaluations can ask respondents to rate your abilities to listen or communicate effectively on a sliding scale, or they can be more specific in asking respondents to estimate the frequency with which you interrupt others mid-sentence if you know this is something you’d like to improve. Questions can also be open ended to ask for examples where you were especially supportive or could have acted differently to improve a situation.


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