Social Annotation for Scientific Articles

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Social annotation technology enables students and instructors to collaboratively add notes, images, media and other annotations to the margins of a reading. Annotations can be seen, read and commented on by all members of the course. Social annotation can transform reading into a collaborative activity, make students’ thinking visible and enhance students’ comprehension of readings (see Kalir et al. 2020 for a review of this research).

Many Colgate faculty adopted the social annotation tool into their courses in the past few years. A few faculty in STEM fields at Colgate have used for social annotation of scientific articles. I recently discovered a peer-reviewed article that describes a social annotation assignment that is very similar to how STEM faculty at Colgate have used

Professor Patrick Cafferty of Emory University describes a collaborative annotation assignment using in an advanced undergraduate developmental neurobiology course. For each of eight modules in the course, students first learn about the basic framework for the topic during two in-class lectures. Then, students used to collaboratively annotate a scientific article. Students were provided with a rubric to guide them in making constructive annotations and to encourage them to build upon their peer’s annotations (the assignment and rubric are available in the appendix of the article). The annotation activity outside of class was followed by quizzes and group presentations to complete each module.

Anonymous student feedback about the annotation assignment revealed that a majority of students believed collaborative annotation was helpful for analyzing a primary research paper, preparing for a group paper presentation, and for studying for quizzes. Students also reported that the rubric was helpful for them to understand how their annotations were going to be evaluated (Cafferty 2022). 
Learn more about technical and pedagogical support for at Colgate.