Case Study

Enhancing Academic Success with Hypothesis: A Case Study of Cerritos College and CUNY Kingsborough

Professor Francie Quaas-Berryman, Cerritos College

Francie Quaas-Berryman

Professor in English, Cerritos College


Kristin Polizzotto

Professor at CUNY Kingsborough Community College


In an era of evolving educational needs, Hypothesis emerges as a pivotal tool in transforming student engagement, retention, and academic achievement. This case study intertwines the experiences of instructors at Cerritos College and CUNY KCC, showcasing the universal efficacy of Hypothesis across diverse educational settings.

Unified Challenge: Enhancing Engagement and Performance in a Digital Age

Both Cerritos College and CUNY Kingsborough faced similar challenges: fostering deep, meaningful learning experiences in increasingly digital environments. Cerritos grappled with disconnected online discussions, particularly in literature and drama, while several Kingsborough biology professors sought to maintain academic rigor in both a remote and hybrid setting, especially for first-year biology students.

Innovative Solution: Integrating Hypothesis for Interactive Learning

The introduction of Hypothesis at both institutions marked a significant shift. At Cerritos College, Professor Francie Quaas-Berryman harnessed Hypothesis to blend reading with interactive discussions. “I have never really liked online discussion boards when we’re trying to talk about something specific, because it feels very disconnected,” she noted. Similarly, at Kingsborough, Professor Kristin Polizzotto integrated Hypothesis seamlessly into her courses by utilizing her learnings at the 2 week Hypothesis Academy to do so. 

Similar Results: Improved Grades, Retention, and Engagement

  1. Remarkable Grade Improvements:
  • Cerritos College saw a dramatic increase in student success rates, achieving an unprecedented 100% success rate in drama classes post-Hypothesis. “This had never been achieved before,” stated Quaas-Berryman.
  • Kingsborough’s Professor Polizzotto reported a surge in A+ grades.  “Typically, I’d spot one or maybe two A+’s, but this term saw nearly half the class achieving this level of excellence,” said Polizzotto, a stark contrast to the pre-Hypothesis era. The percentage of A+ grades went from 6% and 10% in spring/fall 2022 to 25% and 27% in spring and fall 2023. This data is from 4 sections in 2022 and 3 sections in 2023; averaging 20 students per section.

Professor Polizzotto's Biology Course

  1. Boosted Retention Rates:
  • At Cerritos, the retention in drama classes saw a notable increase, with dropouts reducing drastically from 7 to just 1 between the Spring 2021 semester where they weren’t using Hypothesis to the Spring 2022 semester where they did use Hypothesis.
  • For Kingsborough, while it’s still unclear whether retention was positively impacted, for students who remained in the course the impact on their final grades was significant.
  1. Enhanced Engagement and Community Building:
  • Both institutions experienced a revitalization in student participation. Cerritos students became more dynamically involved in their studies and utilized videos and images in their annotations to interact with their peers. Kingsborough students shared links to articles or quiz tools to help one another master difficult concepts.
  • Kingsborough biology students built a strong class community that carried over into their in-person interactions, with students often referencing their online interactions in class discussions.


The experiences of Cerritos College and CUNY Kingsborough with Hypothesis highlight a common narrative: the power of social annotation to revolutionize learning experiences.

The seamless integration of Hypothesis not only improved academic performance but also fostered a sense of community and belonging among students, proving its effectiveness across varied academic disciplines and settings.

As Professor Quaas-Berryman from Cerritos joyfully states, “Prepping for that class became my favorite activity of the week,” and Professor Polizzotto from Kingsborough echoes, “Students became the drivers of their own learning,” it becomes evident that Hypothesis is more than just a tool—it’s a catalyst for educational transformation.

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