Case study: Using Aropä for peer reviewing and assessment


Through Aropä, a free peer-review portal, the students review and provide feedback on each other’s essay drafts. These reviews are then assessed by members of staff and given a grade. When the students submit their final essay, they also submit a piece of reflective writing on how they used the feedback they received. The use of Aropä facilitates and structures the peer reviewing process, enabling it to become part of the course assessment. 

Key points

College: College of Arts
Class size: 70
Technological competency: Medium
Administrative support: No
Required resources: Aropä
Suitable for online/distance learning: Yes
Corresponding contactDr Lisa Hau (convenor) 

Course details

Course title: Classical Civilization 2A: The Civic Discourse of Classical Athens
Level: 2
College: College of Arts
Department: Classics
Instructor: Dr Lisa Hau
Implemented since: 2011/12

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On this course, Aropä was implemented to carry out peer reviews. In order to get the students to think as markers and critical readers before they submit their final essays, the students give each other feedback on their essay drafts. 

Peer reviewing was already a part of the course but took place in a seminar. It was difficult to ensure that all students received and gave feedback, and the method was therefore not ideal as assessment. To standardise this process, the peer review assignment was moved to Aropä, making it entirely web-based and easier to monitor. 

This approach to feedback encourages the students to: 

  • develop a better understanding of marking and feedback processes (Boase-Jelineket al2013)
  • develop their critical reading skills in conjunction with essay writing.

Implementation (what was done)

  • The course convenor sets an assignment in Aropä, which then hosts and facilitates the peer reviewing activity.
  • Before the actual activity takes place, time is spent in a seminar peer-reviewing an essay sample together. 
  • In week 6 of the course (reading week), students submit an essay draft in Aropä.
  • Following submission, each student reviews two different essays allocated to them in Aropä. When reviewing and providing feedback to the essays, the students follow a detailed rubric created by the course convenor and embedded in Aropä. This rubric follows the staff rubric for marking essays but is extended and has more explanatory notes.
  • The students write a comment to each of the feedback categories and grade each element from 1-5. They also give the essay a final grade and an overall comment. There is no word limit. The reviews are due in week 7 or 8.
  • When the reviewing period is over for the students, members of staff assess and give feedback on the reviews in Aropä using a rubric where they mark them on helpfulness, comprehensiveness and fairness. The reviews are given a grade which counts 25% towards their final grade (the grade is the average of the two reviews). Staff do not assess the essay draft (but read it in order to be able to assess the reviews).
  • After the students have received their feedback, they submit the final essay, which is due in week 10. The final essay counts for 50% of their final grade.
  • Along with the final essay, the students submit a piece of reflective writing where they reflect on how they used the feedback they received.
  • The remaining 25% of the assessment is a portfolio. 

Considerations (and what worked well)

  • The implementation of Aropä made the process of peer reviewing more efficient and enabled its use as a form of assessment.
  • Aropä made the submissions and reviews anonymous.
  • Getting the students to submit two reviews each is the only way to ensure that everybody ends up with at least one review of their essay draft.
  • Providing feedback on essay drafts before they hand in their final essays encourages the students to reflect on the qualities of their own work and incorporate these reflections into their final submission.

Scalability and Transferability

Peer reviewing has been implemented more widely on pre-honours courses in Classics to allow the students to further internalise the critical reading habits through repeated practice.


The approach could be scaled to bigger classes; however, it is important to keep in mind that this form of assessment takes the same amount of time as assessing essays, if not more.


Student benefits 
  • Develops a better understanding of marking and feedback processes (Boase-Jelinek et al2013).
  • Develops feedback literacy and self-assessment skills.
  • Develops the student’s ability to synthesise writing skills and critical reading skills. 
  • The online model creates flexibility for the students.
Staff benefits 
  • Once the system is set up, everything is done electronically and automatically through Aropä (no need to send out individual emails etc.).
  • Reading the peer reviews gives valuable insight into how students think about essay writing and what they believe makes a good essay. The teacher can then address any misconceptions in future seminars.


Student challenges 
  • This approach tends to make the students busier during term. 
  • The students tend to want more staff input on their essays.
  • To simplify the peer reviewing task, the essays are shorter than usual, which is a different challenge from what the students are used to.
Staff challenges 
  • This method tends to make the staff busier during term.
  • Timing: the turnaround for staff (and students) is tight.
  • It’s important to ensure that the process is properly explained and that expectations are clarified, as new feedback and assessment methods can create some anxiety among the students.


Boase-Jelinek, D., Parker, J., & Herrington, J. (2013). Student reflection and learning through peer reviewsIssues in Educational Research23(2 SPL), 119–131.