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ChatGPT: Artificial Intelligence Implications in Teaching and Learning

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT, in simple terms, is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) chatbot trained on vast amounts of data. It can answer questions in essay form in professionally written English. While it can produce accurate and well-written answers, it may occasionally produce inaccurate, untruthful, biased, and harmful content. It should be noted that here we are referring to ChatGPT, but the information is intended to be applicable to other AI text-generative tools that are popping up.

A man watches artificial intelligence write an essay.

What is the big deal?

ChatGPT has gained some notoriety as a tool that enables students to cheat on written assignments and take away people’s jobs. ChatGPT has been featured in the media sensationalizing the potential impact including: “The College Essay is Dead,” “Students Are Using AI to Write Their Papers, Because Of Course They Are,” and “ChatGPT Won’t Take Your Job, But You Will Need To Learn How To Use It.”

There is a real chance students may use the tool to misrepresent the output from ChatGPT as their own. We expect innovative solutions to be developed in the future to evaluate potential plagiarism. However, it is also our responsibility to help guide students to use ChatGPT with academic integrity, as there is enormous potential for this tool to impact the higher education landscape.

Can I try out ChatGPT?

Yes, but please consider privacy and data collection policies of the AI tool. Review the terms you agree to and do not use student or personally identifiable information when making queries. You may also want to consider, as an instructor, the possible implications of entering test questions or other academic work into the tool.

ChatGPT is currently in research preview and is free for anyone to use. Go to: https://chat.openai.com/ You'll need to create an OpenAI account. It has been in high demand, so it is often down. You may want to try it out for yourself to see how it works, what its capabilities are, and what it knows about your discipline.

You can always visit the CITL Innovation Studio during open hours Tuesdays 10a-4p and Thursday 1-4p (or schedule an appointment) to try it with one of our educational technology experts (if ChatGPT is running at the time).

Demonstration of ChatGPT answering prompt
ChatGPT responds to a request to write an essay on the debt ceiling.

What should I do about ChatGPT and AI generated content?

Talk to your students about academic integrity

Academic Integrity is a critical issue, and we should address the concept with our students and include it in the syllabus. CITL has guidance on “Dealing With Cheating” and “Discouraging & Detecting Plagiarism.”

Your syllabus should be designed to address (repeat in class to emphasize) the importance of academic integrity. Propose alternative assignments or assessments if there is the chance that students might use the tool to misrepresent the output from ChatGPT as their own. Avoid punitive language which can break trust. Stress the positive. Tell them why you are you doing the assignment/assessment, what is the true outcome you are seeking, and how does the assessment help students (and using AI would defeat the desired outcome). 

It is important to understand why students might “outsource” their work and address those issues. Often, time management skills are to blame, or the student does not know how to get started with a project. You can assign students to speak to a librarian about a topic, provide them with instructional resources, or structure assignments in such a way that they complete bite-sized, manageable components over time, and do not get in rush at the end.

Students should be aware of the benefits of academic integrity and the consequences. It is often better for the student and instructor to focus on ways to improve learning and disincentive cheating overall.

Critically assess and use ChatGPT with your students

If AI is the future of work, then it is beneficial to prepare our students for the future and professional practice. We may want our students to try it, analyze it, and critique it.

It is prudent to evaluate threats and opportunities in your teaching independently from students by using the tool and exploring its strengths and weaknesses. That said, it is also valuable to have open discussions, as well as identify and communicate opportunities in your course by co-creating class expectations with your students. Talk about how it should and should not be used. Use it in class as an activity. What would ChatGPT say? Why is its response right or wrong?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has some specific sample activities of how to explore the strengths and weaknesses of AI, establish course norms for using AI, and integrating AI into writing assignments.

Re-think current writing-based assignments

Traditional writing assignments are not dead with the introduction of ChatGPT, but it may be important for us to re-evaluate what the core purpose of student writing is and refocus on those key elements.

  • Make assignments more personal, reflective, specific, local, based on scenarios/facts/topics covered in class, or that address more complex cognitive skills. Tightening in on topics not only engages the students more since they are more meaningful, but we are also focusing on topics that AI have less experience with and will not perform as well.
  • Change your focus/grading on written assignments to favor process and planning, rather than the final product.
  • Break big assignments into smaller pieces. There will be less pressure to cheat, and you can get a sense of student’s writing style should you need to compare it with other (AI) samples. It provides for better learning opportunities when early/incremental feedback is provided.
  • Have ChatGPT to author an essay on a topic and have the student critique the result.
  • Talk about whether AI tools are allowed for use in assignments and how students should cite AI sources (are AI excerpts displayed in a distinct color?). Also, consider how they would cite AI differently if used for ideation, inspiration, or brainstorming.
  • Use ChatGPT as an ideation tool, for organization of thoughts, and for iterating on a concept.
  • Run your own course assignments through ChatGPT to see how it does and structure accordingly.
  • Use ChatGPT as a heuristic engine that helps the student think through refining questions. 
  • Do writing assignments in class. It may be useful to have students compose a handwritten essay or write a shorter reflection paper on a current topic in class.
Use alternative assignments/assessments

Writing is not the only way to assess students. Alternative means of assessment provide students with rich and meaningful ways to demonstrate their learning. By being creative with a rubric, we can assess a variety of assignments fairly and equally. Giving the students options lets them be more engaged in their assignments. Here is a small sampling of assignments, beyond writing:

  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • Journaling
  • Podcasts
  • Portfolios
  • Group projects
  • Interviews
  • Role playing
Notes on plagiarism detection tools

Our campus plagiarism tool Turnitin is developing a ChatGPT and AI writing detection tools that will eventually be available for campus. As these solutions are being developed (e.g., the ability to compare writing style and watermarking AI generated content) it is also important to recognize the potential for ChatGPT in supporting innovation and the need to educate our students in the best ways to interact with new and disruptive technologies.

Panel Discussion: Artificial Intelligence: Implications on Teaching & Learning 

CITL put together a diverse group of campus stakeholders to open up the conversation around this disruptive technology and discuss the implications for teaching and learning in higher education. Our panel discussion, Artificial Intelligence: Implications on Teaching & Learning, is hosted by Jordan Leising, Instructional Designer (CITL) and Jamie Nelson, Assistant Director, Emerging Technologies (CITL) and Associate Director, Educational Technologies (Gies)

Our panelists include:

  • Antonio Hamilton, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Center for Writing Studies 
  • Heng Ji, Professor, Computer Science 
  • Volodymyr Kindratenko, Director, Center for AI Innovation at NCSA
  • Tawnya Means, Assistant Dean for Educational Innovation & Chief Learning Officer at Gies College of Business
  • Ted Underwood, Professor, English; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School for Information Sciences
  • Gaby Venatta, eLearning Professional, Technology Services; Campus Service Manager for Turnitin

Please watch the recording by clicking on the image below.

 ChatGPT panel discussion


Advice From ChatGPT

We gave ChatGPT the prompts below to see what advice it could give us and our students. It will also give you an idea of the kinds of responses it is capable of.

What advice do we give to faculty worried about students using ChatGPT to write papers?

Response: Here are some suggestions for advice that can be given to faculty who are worried about students using ChatGPT to author papers:

  1. Emphasize the importance of original thought and critical thinking: Remind students that using ChatGPT should be a tool to aid in their writing process, and not a replacement for their own original ideas and critical thinking.
  2. Encourage proper citation: Remind students that when using ChatGPT, they must properly cite any information or ideas that come from the model, to avoid plagiarism.
  3. Encourage them to use it as a tool, not a crutch: ChatGPT can be a useful tool for generating ideas, organizing thoughts, and improving writing skills, but it should not be relied on excessively. Encourage them to use it as a tool to assist their writing, not a crutch to do all the work for them.
  4. Address the ethical concerns: Remind students that using ChatGPT may raise ethical concerns, such as the potential for cheating and the importance of not misleading their audience.
  5. Provide guidance on using the tool effectively: Provide guidance on how to use ChatGPT effectively, such as how to correctly format and cite information from the model, and how to critically evaluate the suggestions provided by the model.
  6. Remind them that their work will be evaluated based on their own thinking and writing. Ultimately, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that their work meets academic standards and demonstrates their own knowledge and understanding of the topic.
  7. Encourage them to share their experience with the tool and get feedback from you and their peers to ensure that they are using it effectively.
How can ChatGPT help me write a paper?

Response: ChatGPT can help you write a paper in a few ways:

  1. Generating ideas: ChatGPT can help you brainstorm ideas for your paper by providing suggestions for topics, thesis statements, and key points to include in your paper.
  2. Organizing your thoughts: ChatGPT can assist you in organizing your ideas into a logical structure by providing suggestions for outlines and transitions between paragraphs.
  3. Enhancing your writing: ChatGPT can assist you in improving the quality of your writing by providing suggestions for grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
  4. Summarizing your sources: ChatGPT can help you summarize and paraphrase information from your sources, which can be useful when incorporating research into your paper.
  5. Citing sources: ChatGPT can also help you generate bibliography and citation in the format required by your university or professor.

It is important to note that while ChatGPT can be a useful tool in writing a paper, it is not a substitute for your own critical thinking and writing skills. The suggestions provided by ChatGPT should be used as a guide and not a replacement for your own ideas and writing. Additionally, it's important to carefully review and edit the text generated by ChatGPT and to ensure that all sources are properly cited.

Final Thoughts

ChatGPT and other AI creation tools are here with more coming on the horizon. We hope that the guidance in this document will help you navigate this exciting (and disruptive) innovative technology. We would be happy to continue the conversation with you and talk about your specific course needs. Please feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation.