Success Story 

Muskegon Community College


Jason Shaughnessy

Faculty, Department Chair, Health, Physical Education and Recreation

“In education, diverse viewpoints are key. Hypothesis empowers students to authentically voice their opinions, fostering various perspectives that we as educators deeply value.”

How do you use Hypothesis in your course(s)?

My focus has been using OER (Online Educational Resources) and Hypothesis together, and I think that’s a healthy, happy marriage. I don’t want to have my students pay for textbooks all the time; we look for textbooks that are free. And then, because those textbooks are usually in a PDF format, it’s really easy to implement the Hypothesis system and get things going.

What first drew you to social annotation? Any particular pain points you were trying to address?

Our English department started using social annotation – more specifically, in the student success part of that department. We wanted to find a way to engage students in the college success seminar and, afterward, a colleague introduced me to social annotation. I thought it was a great idea, and I launched that into my own discipline, which is health, physical education, and recreation.

As a student myself, it was always hard for me to connect with the textbook; I would get bored, and I felt like my students would have similar experiences. Also, as an instructor, you never know if students are actually reading the assigned textbook. Social annotation allows them to get through the reading and make the connections that they need to make.

Can you describe the before and after of using Hypothesis in your course?

Before, it was always a mystery to me whether or not students would be getting through the reading. With Hypothesis, I know that students are not only reading, but also reflecting on everything as they’re getting through the textbook. Hypothesis is a way for students to connect with the textbook intimately on their own. I can confidently say that it’s been a better experience for students using Hypothesis, and I feel like they have gotten more out of class with it.

What are the main pedagogical benefits of Hypothesis social annotation from your experience?

I feel that students are getting a lot out of the reading experience because of Hypothesis. Many students have never annotated before, and usually, before I start assigning annotations, I go over the importance of them and why we’re annotating. Plus, I tell them that good readers usually make annotations within the text, so they then try to make those necessary connections. Just reading annotations from time to time, I’ll see a student say that they are really enjoying reading the text because with Hypothesis, you’re able to interact with it, and that creates a positive experience.

I also think it’s easier for everyone, including myself, to stay on track and meet course objectives using Hypothesis.

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