Peer Assessment

Seth Ward

Comment on at least five papers by posting in the Discussion section.


Each student may be part of a small group set up for assisting, advising and assessment. If the Instructor has requested you to do so, please comment on all the papers in this group. Look over all the papers though, and develop a list of at those with similar themes to your own. Comment on as many of these papers as you can.


In your comments, you may ask questions of the author, confirm, comment on or argue with the conclusions, indicate strengths or weaknesses, common issues which both you and the other author wrote about, larger issues which need to be discussed, and so forth.


You also should consider whether the paper presents a coherent description of the issue it aims to discuss; presents a set of findings backed by research; and discusses and assesses the significance of the material presented in the paper. In general, term projects are not purely opinion pieces, but the choices made and conclusions drawn about significance ultimately are a research-based and well-considered opinion.


You should consider whether the paper advances or does not advance some of the goals of the university study of Religion, the breadth or methodology of research or use of research tools, or respond based on some of the Paper Assessment rubrics in the Peer Review guidelines (see below).


Post these as comments to the individual papers.


Assess the work of the group as a whole: what issues seem to be common, or unique; as a group did the papers enlighten? Did issues you raised as a peer reviewer get addressed? Are there issues suggested by the paper suitable for further research?


Post these to the appropriate discussion section.


Check the comments on your paper in the discussion section, and answer as many questions that might be posed by your fellow students or by the instructor.


Post these as comments to the comments.


Final Assessment Exercise--write a short essay comparing and contrasting about 5 papers. Select 2 which are the best, and explain why. You can assemble this essay in part from assessments of and comments on papers you posted in the discussion section. The analysis of the “two best” should not include your own or imply any ranking of your own. Please post this in the appropriate drop box.







How do you assess a student paper?


  1. Consider the degree to which the paper helps meet the guidelines for Religious Studies. Click here for the goals with a brief discussion.
  2. Use some of the Paper Assessment rubrics from the Peer Review guidelines
  3. It is a good idea to check some of the references, and see whether you arrive at some of the same conclusions by following your classmate’s argument and reading the same sources.
  4. Consider the paper within the context of the course. In some cases, be aware that the paper topic will have been approved by the instructor even though the topic does not appear to relate directly to any main theme of the course.
  5. Assess the author’s contribution to the discussion of issues of interest to the course. The paper should not only review details but also articulate conclusions about the significance and put the findings into perspective.  
  6. Be frank and honest, yet fair and constructive. Take account of different styles and conclusions.