Methods of Peer Marking: Advantages and Disadvantages

the definitive guide for project-based learning modules in engineering


Project-based learning modules often implement some form of peer marking as a means of providing feedback on students’ performance within a team. It also serves as a means of motivating less-engaged students.

There are several approaches to peer marking, and in this article we will cover the main three approaches, and provide some positives and negatives, so you can design your assessment strategy, appropriately.

The ‘Standard’ Approach

In this method, each member of a team is asked to score the other members. In some cases they are also asked to mark themselves. This is usually done with one, but could be against multiple, criteria. To aid the process tutors can provide students with Excel sheets, paper templates or peer marking software.


The approach is simple for students to understand and can be applied to multiple marking criteria.


Students are usually quite poor at following assessment criteria and usually over-mark peers, even if they have done little or no work. Mostly to be liked. This makes moderation very difficult.

Sharing Marks

A less conventional approach which is usually quite unpopular with students is to give the teams an amount of marks i.e. 350 for five students to share, and let them negotiate this between themselves.


This approach prevents each member of the team getting 100%.


Due to the requirement for 'negotiation' between team members, there is a risk that less assertive members will get lower marks than their input deserves.

It is difficult to justify the total marks being shared. In some cases this could be the average assignment grade multiplied by the number of team members (to give an average), but this adds to the complexity of managing the module.

There is a large risk the process of 'sharing' the marks can cause discontent within teams that may affect performance for the remainder of the module.

Comparative Peer Marking

The previous two methods required students to use some level of subjective judgement to provide a mark to their colleagues. However, students are rarely very good at assigning marks (which is of course no fault of their own).

Comparative peer marking works using the process of comparative judgement, where students are asked to rank their colleagues against set criteria i.e. who provided leadership?


Unlike the standard approach, comparative peer marking allows academics to moderate the results (potentially using group marks for assessments).


It may be challenging for some students to rank their peers in certain categories, but this can be overcome by adding multiple criteria.


There are several options for peer marking project-based modules, however remember to select your approach with ease of use, moderation capability and student satisfaction in mind for a simple and successful delivery.

Try It On Your Modules

If you would like to use comparative peer marking Peermarkify offers a three month (one semester) free trial for you to determine if it is suitable for your course, absolutely risk free.