An Overview of Perusall

Last revised: 5/19/2021 by TJS


Perusall is a free “social annotation” tool that helps students engage with course material in class groups. When integrated with HuskyCT, instructors can create reading or viewing assignments in which students create & share their own annotations and respond to each other’s comments & questions. Perusall informs instructors of the concepts that generate the most student questions & discussion, and Perusall assignments can be automatically scored based on instructor-determined engagement parameters. Perusall also reminds students of incomplete assignments, prompting higher rates of completion and preparedness.

* Faculty can arrange for students to purchase Perusall e-textbook codes through the UConn Bookstore/ Barnes & Noble.  Faculty-uploaded content and publicly-accessible content (websites, YouTube videos, etc.) can also be used to create Perusall Assignments.

Feature Highlights

  • For instructors

    • Drag & drop to upload other digital materials to your Perusall course library (PDFs, websites, videos, etc.)
    • Easily monitor annotations & comments/replies
    • Learner analytics to analyze student performance; optional automatic scoring of annotation assignments
    • Automatic student grouping for large-enrollment courses (~20 students per group)
    • Generate “Student Confusion Report” to identify topics that prompt the most student annotations & questions
    • Automatic private “nudges” for when students skip sections or deadlines for incomplete work are approaching
    • Monitor individual student engagement and progress with the materials
    • Identify “at-risk” students
    • HuskyCT integration (Grade Center synchronization, auto-generated student accounts)
  • For students

    • Access all digital course materials in one place (instructor’s choice)
    • FERPA compliant and privacy protection
    • Interact with classmates, ask and answer questions through annotations
    • Respond directly through email
    • Notes pages
    • Upvote & hashtag options

Why Use Perusall?

If instructors are concerned that their students are not enjoying, not getting the most out of, or simply not doing their reading assignments, Perusall can help. Below is a snapshot of the impact of Perusall on student reading engagement:

  • 90–95% of students completed all but a few of the reading assignments before class” (*Miller et al., 2018)
    • Compared to 20-40% otherwise; most of the literature reports that 60–80% of students do not read the textbook before coming to class (Cummings et al., 2002; Clump et al., 2004; Podolefsky and Finkelstein, 2006; Stelzer et al., 2009).
  • 80% of students complete 100% of the reading assignment before class” (*Miller et al., 2018)
    • Compared to the average: 28% of the assigned reading completed before class. (Clump et al., 2004)
  • Students read for a longer period of time (measured by Perusall) than what the literature reports as the average student reading time (student-reported) (*Miller et al., 2018)
  • “Students using Perusall perform significantly better on in-class exams” compared to students using a different annotation tool (*Miller et al., 2018)
  • “Perusall contributes to deep learning and … students who perform the annotation assignments as required obtain significantly higher examination marks” (than their “average mark” in other courses) (Suhre et al., 2019)

When to use Perusall?

If any of the following goals are applicable to you, you may consider using Perusall:

  • Encourage students to complete reading assignments prior to class
  • Encourage students to raise questions and have discussions around the reading assignments
  • Gauge students’ level of understanding of certain concepts
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of certain reading materials


How to use Perusall and where to find support?

Instructor Student
Getting Started Getting Started
Instructor Support Student Support


Additional Resources

Instruction by Creators

In the video above, Gary King, co-founder of Perusall, provides an overview of Perusall, shares why he believes it outclasses traditional solitary reading tasks, and describes the components of a more engaging reading experience. You can also view his overview slides here.

In the webinar above, Eric Mazur, co-founder of Perusall, provided an in-depth introduction to Perusall including a demonstration of some of the key features (demo starts at 17:00).

External Links

  • Professors shared their experience on the Persuall website.
  • How Scoring Works, a downloadable PDF file, gives a detailed explanation of the scoring and score sharing process works with Persuall.
  • Rubric for Perusall Tasks can be shared with students as an introduction to Perusall. It also contains sample expectations for annotations.



* As noted in the paper’s Conflict of Interest statement, this study was conducted by Harvard faculty who are also principals of Perusall, LLC.


    Indicating your role will help us serve our community better.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.