Learning Objectives Annotation Assignment – Biology

By Kristin Polizzotto of Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York

Description #

Students annotate a detailed list of learning objectives for each of the five units in a general biology course. Unit exams are based on these objectives, so this gives students a chance to actively engage with the objectives and with each other to improve learning.

Assignment #

Purpose #

One of your assignments in this class is to annotate the learning objectives for each of the five units. To do this, you will make digital notes on the document in Blackboard. 

Annotating a document means to highlight and add notes in the margin. To do this as a class, we will use a software tool called Hypothes.is. Why are we doing this? The goal is to prepare for the unit exams, and to share ideas with your classmates about the learning objectives on which unit exams are based. Digital social annotation gives you a way to study together, but on your own schedule. Over many years of teaching this class, I have found that writing out answers to the learning objectives is the number one way for students to be successful on exams. And number two is studying with classmates, so now you see why I am combining them with social annotation! There are five exams total, so there are five annotation assignments. Annotation assignments are due approximately every three weeks (see course schedule). Think of them as your study guide and your study group for each exam.

Format  #

Each of the five annotation assignments will have the same format. Log in to Blackboard and navigate to the current week. In the lecture folder for that week, you will find a link to the annotation assignment. Alternatively, you can go directly to the annotation assignments from any page in our course site by clicking on the folder named “Annotation assignments” in Blackboard’s left-hand menu. The Hypothes.is annotation tool is embedded directly into the documents, so you will see it as soon as you click to open the document. 

All your annotations (and those of your classmates) will be saved for the entire semester, so you will be able to review and use them to study for exams at any time. Read on for more details about how to complete the assignment.

Instructions  #

(adapted from Study Guide Annotation Assignment on Hypothes.is)

You can review a quick-start guide for how to add annotations using Hypothes.is. This 1.5-minute video may also be helpful.

Annotating in the LMS for Students

Once you have reviewed the quick-start guide or video, you can begin the assignment. The Unit 1 learning objectives for your first assignment can also be accessed here, if you would like to download or print a copy for yourself. Keep in mind though, you cannot annotate them in this linked document. To annotate, you must open the annotation assignment in Blackboard as described above (in the “Format” section). Each assignment is worth 10 points. Please see the instructions below and the grading rubric on the last page, to see how to earn full credit.

  1. Post at least 2 relevant, thoughtful, and substantive annotations (see grading rubric on next page). Here’s some ideas for what you might include in your annotations. Following these guidelines will ensure that you earn a full 10 points for the assignment, as well as making the most of this opportunity to prepare yourself and your classmates for the exam.
    • In your own words, write out an answer for two of the learning objectives. There are approximately 30 objectives for each unit. If another student has already done this for a particular objective, either choose a different learning objective or add something substantive to what they posted (more on that in a minute)
    • Ask a specific question about something that’s unclear or confusing to you (not just “I don’t understand this”)
    • Add a link, image or video to your annotation that you think supplements the material well and could help a classmate better understand a topic while studying (check out these instructions on how to add images, links or videos to annotations)
    • Comment on a topic or question that is concerning to you and explain why
  2. Post a relevant, thoughtful, and substantive response to at least 2 classmates.
    • Reply to a classmate with an additive annotation (add to the conversation by answering their question or extending their response). Here are some ideas on how to start an additive response to a classmate:
      • What did you mean by …
      • Did you consider …/ You might consider …
      • I think you should …
      • It made me think …

Important notes about annotating 

  • Make sure you hit “post” after you complete your annotation, or else your annotation will not be saved.
  • Make sure it says “post to [this class]” and not “post to only me,” or else I won’t be able to review your annotations.
  • If someone replies to your annotation, you will not receive a notification. Check back periodically to continue the conversation!

Rubric for Annotations Using Hypothesis #

(Adapted from “Rubric for Collaborative Annotations” by S.M. Loomis)

CriteriaMeets or Exceeds ExpectationsAlmost Meets ExpectationsNot Yet
Number and Quality of Original AnnotationsStudent successfully posted the minimum required number of original annotations which are relevant and thoughtful. (5 points)Student entered fewer than the required minimum number of original annotations, and/or the entries may lack qualities of thought, relevance, or substance. (1-4 points)To strengthen: Read the instructions again to make sure you understand the work required of you. Make use of the several bulleted suggestions to inspire what you think you’d like to highlight and comments on. If you have questions, please ask your instructor. (0 points)
Number and Quality of Responses to Others’ AnnotationsStudent successfully posted separate responses to the minimum required number of other students’ annotations; those responses are substantive, relevant, and thoughtful. (3 points).Student has responded to fewer than the required number of other student’s annotations, and/or the response may not be relevant, thoughtful, or helpful. (1-2 points).To strengthen: Read the annotations submitted by others until you find one that triggers a thought of your own . . . Respond to them with your thought making sure it’s constructive and adds something to the conversation. (0 points)
Attention to AudienceEach annotation and response is expressed in language and tone appropriate for a college level participant/reader. (2 points)Some annotations and/or responses may be expressed in language or tone too informal for a college-level participant/reader. (1 point)To strengthen: Consider the background of those reading and responding to your work, and avoid overly informal language or tone. (0 points)