Assignments and Exams

Hypothesis Annotations

For each of our readings, you will be required to use a tool called Hypothesis to highlight significant passages and to record observations about those passages. The goal here is to read together, to try to make sense of what we are reading in a collective way. Annotations are due by 9:00pm on the evening prior to the class meeting.This provides me with an opportunity to review your annotations before we meet.

Each annotation assignment is worth 1% of your grade, and these assignments are graded on a credit/no-credit basis. Hypothesis allows you to annotate certain passages and to record "page notes" (notes that apply to the entire reading). You may also find that you want to reply to another student's annotations. While I do not require any specific number of annotations or notes, I will be looking to see that you have put forth a good-faith effort to complete the assignment.

There are many ways to approach this method of collective annotation. Here's a guide developed by Dr. Nathaniel Rivers at St. Louis University, which presents some "do's" and "don'ts" of collaborative annotation. Annotations to our readings might do a number of things, including asking questions, pointing to another related source, connecting a reading to other readings in the class, or any other approach that you think might be useful to you and your classmates. Our goal is to read and think together, and we will also be discussing everyone's annotations together during class meetings.

As I look at your annotations and consider whether or not they deserve credit, I will be asking the following questions:

  • Does your annotation demonstrate that you have read the entire assigned reading?
  • Does your annotation demonstrate that you are considering what was posted previously and engaging in a conversation with the rest of the group?
  • Does your annotation provide evidence that you've thought carefully about the reading and its relationship to our class discussions?
  • Does your annotation demonstrate that you have put forth a good faith effort at completing the assignment?

Commonplace Books

Commonplace books are worth 15% of your grade. You will submit these twice, turning in your commonplace books with each exam (each commonplace book is worth 7.5% of your grade). Commonplace books for this class must be pocket-sized. I use Field Notes 3-1/2" × 5-1/2" notebooks, but you are free to use whatever brand you like. If you have questions about what counts as "pocket-sized," please bring your notebook to class and ask. If your notebook is too big, you will not receive credit, and you will not be able to use it on the exam.

Commonplace books are not necessarily just collections of your notes. They are more like catalogs of ideas, though the way this catalog is organized is up to you. In her article "Humanist Methods in Natural Philosophy: The Commonplace Book," Ann Blair describes commonplace books in this way:

"One selects passages of interest for the rhetorical turns of phrase, the dialectical arguments, or the factual information they contain; one then copies them out in a notebook, the commonplace book, kept handy for the purpose, grouping them under appropriate headings to facilitate later retrieval and use." (541)

Commonplace books are used to gather phrases that we find interesting, either for what they say or how they say it, as well as factual information we find important. They also involve some kind of system for sorting information, and that system is developed by the person keeping the commonplace book (this means everyone's system of sorting will be different).

In this class, you will keep your own commonplace book to record things you find important or interesting about our readings and to record things you encounter outside of class that are relevant to our discussions. These commonplace books are meant to be a useful tool for you, so how you approach them is largely up to you. You will be able to consult these books during exams, and we will also discuss their contents during our class discussions. If you run out of space in your commonplace book, you may start a new one. You may bring as many notebooks as you fill to the exam.

When evaluating commonplace books, I will be asking the following questions:

  • Have you recorded observations about the readings
  • Have you made note of things you encountered outside of class that are relevant to our class discussions?
  • Have you developed (or are you in the process of developing) a way of sorting the information in your commonplace book? In other words, does the commonplace book show that you are working on a system for sorting the information that you are recording?
  • Have you made a good faith effort to complete this assignment?


There will be two exams, and each exam will cover one unit of course material. The dates for exams are on the schedule, and we will spend one class reviewing prior to each exam.

Exams will consist of fill-in-the-blank questions, questions that ask you to identify and explain key terms from class, and short answer questions (questions that ask you to write about 4 sentences in response).

Throughout the semester, you will record notes and observations in commonplace books, and you are free to use these commonplace books during the exam. Some questions may ask you to reflect on observations in the commonplace books (observations about things you've encountered in your everyday life that are relevant to the course material), but commonplace books can also be used to record notes about reading and lectures. You will submit your commonplace book with your exam, and it will be graded (see Commonplace Books assignment sheet).

Group Project: Collaborative Research on Truth and Lies in the Digital World

Your final project in this class will be a group project. Groups will be comprised of approximately 4 students, and each group will develop a research question related to the topic of our class. Throughout this semester, we have read how researchers in different disciplines approach questions of disinformation, misinformation, progaganda, and much more. Your group will formulate a research question related to this work, identify a scholarly article related to that research question, and then present that article to the rest of the class. Groups will develop a presentation that follows the pecha kucha format and will also create a one-page handout that explains the article that the group read.

All members of the group will receive the same grade for the assignment. If members of a group inform me that any group members are not participating in the project, I will meet with those people and issue a warning. If the problem persists, those not participating in the project receive no credit for the assignment.

This project is worth 15% of your grade. When evaluating your one-page guide and presentation, I will be asking the following questions:

  • Have you identified a worthwhile research question that relates to the conversations we have had in class?
  • Have you identified a scholarly article that relates to that research question?
  • Does your one-page handout explaining the article show evidence of careful attention to detail and design? (If you have questions about how to best approach document design, I recommend that your group make an appointment with the Writing and Design Lab.)
  • Do your guide and presentation explain your research question, explain its relationship to our discussions in class, effectively summarize your chosen article (given the time constraints), and explain the significance of this research?
  • Did everyone in your group speak during the presentation?
  • Does your slide presentation reflect careful attention to design? (Again, consider visiting the WDL for consultation on your slides.)
  • Does your slide presentation follow the pecha kucha rules of 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide? Is there evidence that you have carefully practiced and choreographed the presentation?
  • Are your slides and one-page handout carefully written and free of grammatical errors?