Expand the section navigation mobile menu

E-Learning and Instructional Support.

Kresge Library, Room 430
100 Library Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4479
(location map)
Office and Virtual Help: (248) 805-1625

Annotated reading with Hypothesis

Fri Jan 29, 2021 at 02:46 PM

Greg Allar, a Special Lecturer in International Studies, teaches mostly introductory general education classes. Through these classes, Allar said he hopes to prepare students to do well in their higher level classes by teaching them how to engage with material, ask questions and dive deeper into it. To help with that, Allar uses the annotated reading tool Hypothesis to encourage conversation online and off. 

“Reading is an integral part of our courses,” said Allar. “For many students, however, comprehending the written text still remains a challenge.”

Allar, who presented his methods at the recent Lilly Conference for teaching and learning, said research shows that people retain more information when they interact with the text rather than reading without purpose. With Hypothesis, students can move from passively reading to actively engaging with their readings. The course discussions are based on the readings and the students’ responses. 

In his gen ed classes, Allar not only teaches the course material, but he said his goal is to prepare the students for their higher level classes later on by teaching them to dive deeper into the material and relate it to their personal lives.

Using Hypothesis, Allar points his students toward different digital material. He asks probing questions for students to respond by highlighting passages and writing their comments. 

“Instead of going into a classroom and throwing out a question and then waiting in silence for someone to respond, I can take a comment that a student has internalized and, without calling them out, I can ask the class, ‘how do you relate to this?’” said Allar. 

Allar has been using the free Hypothesis tool for two years. He said it isn’t difficult to learn and the students can jump right in to writing comments and analyzing the reading. 

“With this activity, the focus is still on me. I have to ask the right questions to get the most out of the students and the material,” said Allar. “I’m at the entry level of a lot of classes. The students are just learning what to expect from their classes and professors. My job is to fire them up and prepare them to do this on their own in the future.” 

Hypothesis doesn’t just do annotations. Instructors can use it to ask specific questions, include related images and link[s] to other articles or materials to help the students draw inferences. 

“It’s all about getting the students to the higher level thinking skills and getting them to justify their responses,” said Allar. 

Allar is constantly looking for new tools to help engage his students -- always free. He said one other unique tool, Sutori, helps students create timelines and stories from the information they learn. He uses it in his Perspectives on Russia and Issues in Global Health courses. He said these tools give him a way to evaluate what students are learning, what they find interesting and help draw attention to different aspects that they might not have considered. 

Besides sharing his information at the Lilly Conference, Allar also engages with other Oakland University faculty members through the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and also the Teaching Virtual Community eSpace