Perusall for Instructors & TAs

Modified on Tue, 07 May 2024 at 05:00 PM

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Please note (08/2022): Perusall has added more options for using Groups made in Canvas as well as new options for Automatic Scoring. For more info on the latest Perusall updates please see, Whats New In Perusall?


Perusall is a social annotation tool that allows students and faculty to interact with reading materials in a style akin to social media posting. Instead of reading a document and engaging with it via a separate discussion thread, Perusall brings the discussion to the text. The tool allows instructors to upload their own content and/or adopt a course textbook through the platform. After making assigned materials available in the platform, students and Instructors can comment, highlight, share notes, and create threaded discussions directly within the shared text. 


Perusall has many noteworthy features, including:

  • Allowing for collaborative annotation within and around a shared text or website

  • Offering options for individual or group comments and note sharing.

  • Giving students/instructions the ability to organize concepts, responses, and discussion themes via hashtags.

  • Enabling multi-media annotation possible via videos, images, external linking, etc.

  • Presenting a dashboard for uploaded documents/linked websites for easy navigation organization, and engagement analysis.


There are a few benefits of using Perusall, including: 

  • Providing an avenue for formal or informal interaction with course content.

  • Creating a space for low-stakes discussion surrounding web-based resources within and around that resource.

  • Offering exportable snapshots for collections of quotations and figures

  • Allowing instructors to directly adopt textbooks into the platform. 

  • Providing granular information about student interactions with content, including engagement time, “confusion reports,” posting frequency, and downloadable CSV files of all student annotations within a text.

  • Making content accessible through an option to “read aloud” in multiple languages


As with any feature-rich tool, it may take a bit of time for students and instructors to get acquainted with Perusall. With that in mind, please feel free to consult the following information on using the platform.

Adding the Perusall button to Your Course

1. Click Settings on your course navigation menu.

2. Click the Navigation tab, which is near the top of the page. 

3. Scroll down, click the Perusall button, and drag it above the line that reads "Drag items here to hide them from students." Alternatively, you can click the three vertical dots on the right of the Persuall button > Enable. 

4. Scroll down again and click Save.

Adding Your TA to Your Course

1. After navigating to Perusall’s “Course home” via the link in Canvas, click on the Settings tab.
2. Once on the settings page, navigate to the Access tab.
3. Add TA’s email to “Instructors with course access” box.
4. Click 
Send Invitations.

Adding Readings to Your Course

  1. Click on Library on your course home page in Perusall
  2. To add a book from Perusall's catalog, click Add > Textbook.
  3. To upload a reading (PDF or EPUB format) from your computer, click Add > Documents from my computer or Add > Documents from Dropbox.
  4. To add a web page as a reading, click Add > Web page.

Creating Assignments

  1. Click on Assignments on your course home page.

  2. Click Add assignment and select the document you want to assign.

  3. Select the part of the document to assign, specify a deadline, and click Save changes.

Setting Discussion Policies

  • Navigate to Settings > General to set overall course policies about assignment availability and scoring.

  • Navigate to Settings > Grouping to manage discussion groups.

  • Navigate to Settings > Scoring to determine how Perusall will generate engagement scores.

  • Navigate to Settings > Advanced to adjust fine-grained course options

Viewing Discussions within a Text

  1. Navigate to Course home.

  2. Open a document in the Library tab, or open an assignment in the Assignments tab.

  3. When you (or your students) open a document, you'll see highlights superimposed on the document that represent comments that students have entered.

  4. Highlight text by clicking and dragging. You will see a new conversation panel appear on the right side of the page. Enter a comment or question, and press Enter to save it.

  5. When the instructor starts a comment thread, the text they highlighted will show in blue; student comments are highlighted in yellow.

  6. When someone responds to a question or comment, the original author receives a notification by email and can post their own response by replying to the email. Students that ask a question can also indicate that one or more of the responses answers their original question.

  7. Control the highlights that you see by clicking the All comments filter dropdown at the top of the page and selecting a filter.

Managing Groups

To avoid an unwieldy experience for large courses, students are automatically placed into groups for each document; students can only see and respond to comments and questions made by other students in their group.

To learn more about groups, please view How do Groups Work in Perusall?

Managing Grades

Perusall has added some options for fine-tuning the automatic grading it does through Student Engagement Analytics. Instructors can now more adequately select the automatic grading option they prefer. Opting out of automatic grading entirely still exists as an option. Instructors can locate this option under Settings > General when they are setting up their course in Perusall. (click on the image below to enlarge)example of analytic options automatic grading and engagement analytics all the way to disable all analytics

  • Perusall's automatic grading engine will automatically score all student work and assign an overall assignment score unless you change this setting as outlined above.

  • View these scores by navigating to the Gradebook inside Perusall (left-hand menu)

  • Within the Gradebook (inside Perusall), click on a score to reveal additional details about how the score was computed. For more information on how grades are calculated, please see Perusall's guide on Student Activity Reports.

    • Use the pencil icon to manually override or enter a grade for a student.

  • Students will not see their scores until you "release" them. Release scores for an assignment by clicking the button at the bottom of that column, or enable automatic grade release within Perusall Settings > General.

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