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Home > Integrations > Turnitin Partner Integrations > Blackboard > Blackboard Learn > Blackboard Direct v2.5 > Instructor User Manual 2.5 > PeerMark™



PeerMark™ is the peer review assignment tool. You can create and manage PeerMark assignments that allow students to read, review, and evaluate one or many papers submitted by their classmates. With the advanced options in PeerMark you can choose whether the reviews are anonymous or attributed, decide if students should be excluded from reviews, or pair students to assign students specific papers to review.


The basic stages of the peer review process:

  • Instructor creates a Turnitin paper assignment
  • Instructor creates a PeerMark assignment and sets the number of papers students will be required to review, and creates free response and scale questions for students to respond to while reviewing papers
  • Student papers are submitted to the Turnitin assignment
  • On the PeerMark assignment start date, students begin writing peer reviews
  • For each assigned paper students write reviews by responding to the free response and scale questions
  • Once the PeerMark assignment due date passes no more reviews can be written, completed, or edited by the writer
  • On the PeerMark assignment post date, reviews of the students’ papers become available for the papers’ authors to view


Note: PeerMark grades can't be passed back to the Blackboard Grade Centre

Distribution of Peer Reviews


PeerMark assignments may use or mix the following methods of distribution of the papers to be reviewed: 

  • Automatically by the Turnitin system
  • Manually selected by you for the student to review
  • Self-selected by the student

For example: You may assign students to review four total papers with the following paper selection combination: two papers automatically selected by Turnitin, one paper selected by the student to review and a self-review.

Creating a PeerMark Assignment


PeerMark assignments can only be created if a class has at least one paper assignment. A PeerMark assignment requires a paper or review assignment to be ‘based on.’ This allows the PeerMark assignment to have a pool of papers to use as the basis for the peer review. 

The assignment the PeerMark assignment is based on should meet the following criteria: 

  • The due date of the base assignment comes before the start date and time of the PeerMark assignment
  • If anonymity in the review is desired, student submissions should not contain the name of the author in the text or at the top of the paper

Step One - PeerMark Settings


To create a PeerMark assignment click on the PeerMark Manager button from within a course, it looks like a a set of gears. if you don't already have a PeerMark assignment created for this assignment click on create a new PeerMark assignment.


1. Click on the Add Assignment button from within a class



2. If you have not already created a PeerMark Assignment for an assignment click on create a new PeerMark assignment



3. Add a title for the PeerMark assignment



4. Select a Point value for the assignment. Select whether to award full points if review is written by placing a checkmark in the Award full points if review is written option



5. Next, select the dates for the PeerMark Assignment. The dates you must select are: the start date, the due date, and the post date. The start date is the date students can begin reading papers and writing reviews. The due date prevents students from writing reviews after this date. The post date is the date students will have access to reviews written by their classmates


Step Two - Distribution


In step 2 you determine how many papers will be distributed to the students in the course. 

Selecting the number of papers each student will review


1. Click on the PeerMark Assignment tab at the top of the PeerMark manager



2. Click on the Additional Settings link within the PeerMark Manager



3. Using the drop-down menus, select the number of papers that will distribute to students. You can choose for PeerMark to automatically assign papers to students or for students to be able to select papers themselves.



4. Select whether you would like the student to write a self-review by clicking in the require self-review check box. A self-review uses the same free response and scale questions the student used to write reviews of their classmates’ papers but the review is for their own paper



5. Click the Close button, your changes will automatically be saved



The advanced distribution options allow you to choose to exclude student papers from distribution or specify which student papers a student(s) will have to review. PeerMark will automatically distribute papers to students but an instructor may choose specific student pairings which will then add an exception to the PeerMark distribution which will adjust its logic according to your rules.


Advanced distribution options are available through the Distribution tab at the top of the PeerMark Manager. Advanced distribution options allow you to choose to exclude student.

Pairing students for review


1. To assign a student(s) to review a specific student’s paper, click on the Distribution tab at the top of the PeerMark Manager



2. Click on the blue + icon beside the student you would like to pair



3. You can select multiple students to be a reviewer for another student. You have to pair each student individually. Click on the student's name to pair the students. You can use the search bar at the top of pair user bubble to find a specific student. 


3a. If you need to unpair a student you can click the blue minus(-) icon to unpair them. Click on the student's name you'd like to remove to unpair the students.


4. Changes are automatically saved to student distribution. Click on Close to close the PeerMark Manager



Note: Student pairs or exclusions can be edited or deleted up until a student has begun a review which will lock the assignment settings

Excluding students from review


1. To exclude a student from using PeerMark, click on the Distribution tab at the top of the PeerMark Manager



2. Find the student's name that you would like to exclude and click on the Exclude button, it appears as a red minus (-) symbol encased in a white circle. 



2a. To reinclude a student click on the green Include plus symbol (+) that replaces the exclude symbol beside the student's name



Note: Student pairs or exclusions can be edited or deleted up until a student has begun a review which will lock the assignment settings. 

Step Three - Adding Questions to the Review


Step three allows an instructor to choose between scale and free response questions for students to answer. 

An example of a free response question:

 “Does this paper sustain a coherent point of view? Why or why not?”

Free response questions allow an instructor to pose these questions for students to answer in their peer review and can include minimum length requirements.


An example scale question:

 “Rate the strength of this paper's thesis. Scale, Very Weak to Very Strong”

Scale questions allow students to rate the paper on instructor chosen areas of writing.

Creating a free response question


1. To set the questions that your students will use to peer review, click on the PeerMark Questions tab at the top of the PeerMark Manager



2. Click the + Add question button to add a question to the PeerMark assignment



3. Ensure that the question type is set to Free Response. In the Question text field put the question you would like your students to answer. Set the minimum answer length if you would like your students to have had a minimum amount of words for a valid answer to your question. The Minimum answer length is the minimum number of words you will allow for your students to input per answer.



4. Click save to add your question to the PeerMark assignment

Creating a scale question in PeerMark creation


1. To set the questions that your students will use to peer review, click on the PeerMark Questions tab at the top of the PeerMark Manager



2. Click the + Add question button to add a question to the PeerMark assignment



3. Ensure that the question type is set to Scale. In the Question text field put the question you would like your students to answer. Set the Scale size using the drop down, this can be any number between 2 and five.


The scale should represent two different extremes. In the Lowest text field put the napir of your scale, e.g. Strongly Disagree and in the Highest text field put the apex of your scale, e.g. Strongly Agree.



4. Click the Save button add the question to the PeerMark assignment


Adding a question from a PeerMark library


1. To add questions from a library click on the Library Settings drop down and select Add from Library. Select the Library you'd like to add from



2. Use the checkboxes to select each of the questions that you'd like to add to the PeerMark assignment



3. Click on the Toggle All button to add all the questions within the library to the PeerMark assignment



4. Click on the Add Selected Questions button to add all of the question's you've added to the PeerMark assignment


Editing or Deleting Questions


Free response and scale questions can be edited by clicking on the blue edit button to the right of the question.



Click the Save button once you've finished editing your question to confirm your changes.



Free response and scale questions can be deleted by clicking on the trash can icon to the right of the question you wold like to delete.



Clicking on the trash can icon will open a prompt asking 'Are you sure you want to delete this question?' Click Confirm to delete the question.


Reordering Questions


An instructor may wish to do this if they want their students to see the questions in a specific order. To reorder the questions click on the Reorder questions link.



Change the order of the questions by dragging them to where you would like them placed. Click on the Save order button to save the new order or click Cancel to cancel any changes.



Warning: Once the start date of the PeerMark assignment has passed and a student has begun a peer review, the assignment settings for the PeerMark assignment will become locked and no further edits to the distribution or question options are possible. 


Anonymity and Non-submitter Participation Options


There are two anonymity options within PeerMark. Author anonymity will not reveal the original author of that paper to the student who is assigned the paper for review. Reviewer anonymity will not reveal the name of who has reviewed an assignment to the original author.



To enable author anonymity or reviewer anonymity navigate to PeerMark Manager and click on the blue Additional Settings link with a gear icon.



View Access Options


There are two view access options when creating a PeerMark assignment.


'Allow submitters to read all papers after start date' will allow everyone who has submitted to the base assignment to view all the other papers that have also been submitted by other students. 


'Allow students to read ALL papers and ALL reviews after Post date' will allow everyone who has submitted to the base assignment to view all the other that have been submitted by other students and all the reviews that other students have left on the PeerMark assignment.



Note: Unless the option 'Allow students to view author and reviewer names' is selected students will not see the names of the paper or review authors.

Viewing Student Reviews


Once the start date of the PeerMark assignment has passed students may begin writing peer reviews. The system will automatically distribute the number of papers entered into the paper(s) automatically distributed by PeerMark field within the PeerMark assignment creation. 


The PeerMark inbox will open displaying all the student names, how many reviews out of the total number of reviews assigned to the students have been completed. To view the papers that have already been submitted click on the grey bubble to the right of the student's name. The number inside of the grey bubble shows how many peer reviews have been completed for that assignment. 




An excel file containing the scale responses for each review and scale response averages for a paper or reviewer is available for download for the PeerMark assignment. Click on the Download Scale Responses (xls) link to begin the file download.


Writing a Review of a Student Paper


You are able to write a review to supplement those that students will receive from their peers. You are provided with the same free response and scale question structure as the students.


You can begin writing a review of a student submission from within the PeerMark inbox by clicking on the blue pencil icon next to the PeerMark assignment.


Writing a review for a selected paper


1. All the free response and scale questions that need to be completed for the peer review are located on the right side of the PeerMark screen



2. To answer a free response question, click in the text box below the question and type in your response. The word minimum for the response is listed below the text box



3. To answer scale questions, click the radio button above the number for the rating you are giving this writer for the question



4. Answer all remaining free response and scale questions. Once the questions are completed, click on the Submit button at the top of the PeerMark page to submit your review


Adding Comments to a PeerMark Paper


PeerMark allows users to comment directly on a paper within a review. 

PeerMark Tools Palette


The PeerMark Tools palette contains all the commenting functions available to a user. To access the Tools palette click on Tools on the PeerMark toolbar.



The Tools palette contains two commenting tools and several composition marks that you can use in reviewing and editing their students’ papers. 


Commenting Tools


Within PeerMark an instructor may comment on the paper they are reviewing. A comment is equivalent to the notes that an instructor may write in the margins of a paper. 


A comment might be: 

“Your thesis is unfocused. Consider refining your thesis in subsequent versions of this paper.”

A comment may be up to one thousand characters in length.

Adding a comment to a paper


1. Within PeerMark, to add a comment to a paper click on the paper where you would like to comment. A comment icon and comment bubble will appear



2. Enter text into the text field of the comment bubble



3. (Optional) If the comment references a specific area of the paper, you can click and drag on the paper while the comment bubble is open to create a highlight over text. The color of the highlight can be selected before clicking and dragging. Multiple highlights can be created for each mark if there are multiple areas to reference. Highlights may be overlapping



4. Click the Save button to save the comment



The comment can be edited at any time by clicking on the mark symbol for the comment. The Edit and trash icons will appear, click on the edit icon or double click the mark to open up the comment box. Edit the comment and click Save to save any changes made to the comment. To move a comment, click and hold on the mark symbol and drag the icon to a new location. To delete a comment click on the trash icon.


Inline Comments


Inline comments allow an instructor to add comments directly on the paper. The inline comment appears as type overlaid on the paper. You may select a color from the drop down menu for the inline comment.

To add an inline comment, select the type tool from the Tools palette. Select a color from the color pull down by clicking on the drop down menu for the type tool.



The user can click on the paper where the comment should begin. The inline comment will show up as a light gray highlight over which typing may be done. When finished, click elsewhere on the paper or select the highlighter tool from the Tools palette. The inline comment will appear as typing directly over the paper.



An inline comment can be deleted by moving the cursor over the comment and then clicking on the gray trash can icon that appears to the left of the comment. Deleted comments cannot be recovered.


The inline comment can be moved by clicking and dragging the comment to a new location on the page. Releasing the mouse will affix the inline comment to the page in the new location.

Composition Marks


Composition Marks are standard editing marks that you can utilize when editing and reviewing their peers’ papers. To add a composition mark to a paper click on the mark you want to add in the tools palette and drag the mark to the desired location on the paper.



Tip: Composition mark symbols with yellow backgrounds on the palette are dynamic. These marks require further modification when added to a paper. Some of these marks are resizable using handles at the corners of the mark. Others allow for text to be added in a text field. This allows further customizing of these editing marks.


To move a composition mark click on the mark and drag it to the new position on the paper and release the click. To delete a marked place the cursor over the mark, the trash icon will appear. Click on the trash icon to delete the mark.


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