Explore the possibilities and challenges of AI
When generative artificial intelligence (AI) exploded onto the scene in late 2022 with the release of ChatGPT, adoption was swift. This has required a rapid pivot for instructors in the higher education landscape. The following information about teaching, learning, and AI can help you make informed decisions about the use of AI in your course and confidently adopt this exciting new technology.
Getting Started with AI
Generative Artificial Intelligence describes a quickly evolving category of programs that use a large language model (LLM) and analysis of vast amounts of data to generate new content in the form of text, images, code, audio, video, etc. Generative AI tools can help summarize, revise, transform, and generate text or images in ways that approach being indistinguishable from the work of a human being. Open AI, the company that created ChatGPT, published a broad introduction of Educator Considerations regarding generative AI.
Users interact and direct these tools via prompts. Trying ChatGPT or a similar tool like Bard or Perplexity is a good way to begin learning what these tools can do. Many of the applications require the creation of a personal account and information entered into the application may be used and shared. Don’t share confidential information in any AI application.
Try these prompt strategies:
- Input long text for a summary or translation in another language.
- If you teach students to code, give instructions or ask for corrections.
- Compare AI responses by using the same prompt in various AI tools.
- Request specific tasks beyond basic search engine questions, like creating a Venn Diagram, generating a rubric, or making flashcards and multiple-choice questions.
As an instructor, communicating decisions around the use of AI in your course is critical to the success of your students. A working group of faculty and instructional staff have crafted guidance for a syllabus statement. The sample statements range from forbidding the use of AI to examples of light, moderate, or heavy use of AI in a course. Whichever path you chose it is important to discuss the decision with students and post reminders on each assignment as reinforcement.
Many students are exploring AI tools, some unknowingly. They use AI for spellchecking, coding, math, citations, and online shopping. Some students have never heard of ChatGPT while others are already creating AI applications or earning money through AI-driven content.
Remember that students’ experiences differ, and guidelines on AI use may vary across classes. Take time to clarify with your students what the parameters of AI use are in your class–and why. Here are some steps you can take to take to talk with your students:
- Explain how your AI policies align with learning goals and objectives.
- Specify your expectations for the class and individual assignments.
- Explore different things AI can do together, e.g. have two different AI tools create a response related to a course reading and have students compare, check, revise, edit
- Ask your students questions about their AI usage and describe your experiences.
- Discuss why academic integrity is important.
- Return throughout the semester to the conversation as needed.
Share your course and assignment policies and ideas on this collaborative document.
Citation and acknowledgment practices for generative AI are evolving along with the tools. Remind your students that they are responsible for the content and quality of work that they submit. If you want students to cite/acknowledge use of AI, give instructions for how in the syllabus and/or assignment(s).
Citing AI Content: When any AI-generated content is paraphrased, quoted, or incorporated into work, it should be cited; this includes AI-generated visuals or other media. If the AI tool makes its interactions shareable, tell students to include a link or URL to the original prompt. The MLA Style Center: How do I cite generative or APA Style: How to cite ChatGPT have other examples. You may find yourself and your students developing citation styles specific to your course or assignments.
Acknowledging AI Assistance: Students might use AI tools to assist them during the learning, researching, and composing processes. If students use AI tools as part of their process during learning activities and assessment projects, be sure to tell them where and how they can document their use of AI tools. If it is a more traditional research project, it might include a methods, notes, or acknowledgment section. Or, you might assign a process reflection memo that students submit as a part of their work.
Remind students to vet AI-generated content: Depending on the prompt, generative AI tools may create biased, illogical, or false information and non-existent sources. Everyone should thoroughly check or investigate any AI-generated content.
While AI detection tools can be used by instructors to assist in reviewing student work, none of the current tools are fully reliable. Content that is human-written may be flagged as AI-written. This happens more often with formulaic writing like “a 500-word essay on …” and mixed human-AI writing, but also disproportionately with writing by English language learners. The evaluation of an AI detection tool is insufficient evidence to conclude that a student has violated course policies. It is necessary to have conversations with students about their research, writing, and study processes. If AI detection is used, students should be informed. See UArizona Syllabus Guide for a sample statement about AI Detection.
This is a moment of tremendous opportunity for investigating and learning about AI and its impacts. AI technologies are widespread and not going to disappear. Educators are in the position of figuring out what students need to know about AI and how to use AI tools appropriately, securely, ethically, and in ways that help learning and thinking–not just in class but in preparation for work, civic and domestic life. Students are partners in figuring this out.
Efficiency: These systems extend human abilities. AI assists in making and modifying lesson plans, rubrics, test questions, case studies, summaries, reports, outlines, tables, revisions, graphics, audio, ad infinitum. Very quickly.
Creativity: Writers and thinkers of all types describe using generative AI to brainstorm, get a better understanding of a topic, look at something from a different point of view, develop research ideas, or help them get started writing when all they have are fragmented notes and disjointed ideas.
Learning Support: Students can interact in real-time with large language model tools and get immediate feedback. As a digital learning partner generative AI doesn’t take the place of meaningful instructor-student and student-student interaction but provides additional individualized support at any time.
New Literacy and Job Skills: Already there is a demand for people who have the knowledge and skills to develop AI programs, critically evaluate AI technologies, communicate and collaborate effectively with AI; use AI as a tool.
Ethical Issues and Risks
Access Inequity: Not all tools are free; more powerful versions usually require a paid subscription. Some tools are not available in certain parts of the world. Not all generative AI tools meet disability access requirements. Students have different needs and different levels of familiarity with AI tools.
Inaccuracy, Bias, and Harm: Large language models are trained on data from the internet, digitized materials, online discussion boards, and human feedback. The racism, violence, misinformation, sexism, and ableism that exist in that data affect the output of these tools. All generated material should be fact-checked and evaluated.
Cheating & Deception: It is not always easy to distinguish content made by AI from content made by a human. Nor is it easy to establish origin and authenticity.
Copyright & Intellectual Property: Artists, writers, and publishers are challenging AI developers in court, saying that they use copyrighted material without permission in order to train their AI programs.
Unfair labor practices: Reports on technology companies’ business practices raise concerns about unfair labor conditions of the human workers who give feedback to train AI models.
Resources for Teaching with AI
Current conversations about AI offer a chance to reimagine the assessment of student learning. Whether students are creating an infographic, writing an annotated bibliography, or designing a graphic for a marketing campaign – AI can be used throughout. Below are some strategies and resources to guide teaching decisions.
Use AI to Plan and Prepare Course Materials
Credit: Al Bulushi, Z. ELEVATE your TEACHING with ChatGPT. Dr. Al Bulushi is an Assistant Professor in the General Education program at the University of Arizona.
Strategies to Adjust Assignments
Continually articulate why students are doing the assignments and how it supports learning goals for the course and life. Including this information is essential for student buy-in and motivation.
Design more process-oriented assignments that ask students to explain or reflect on their own process of thinking or research.
How can I encourage students to document their thinking and increase metacognition?
Plan for students to submit drafts, receive feedback, and revise. It is important for students to reflect on how they used the feedback.
How can I incorporate different types of feedback in my class and which assignments is this appropriate for?
Assign projects in which students apply personal or professional experiences to the local context or to specific course materials.
How is this related to students’ personal and professional learning goals and communities? How am I communicating this to students?
Guide the process of research, including how to incorporate and cite a wide variety of academic and popular sources.
Why do I ask students to research and what sources are valuable? How can we utilize our librarians to explore and find answers?
Think about leveraging assignment modality options such as visual, multimedia, audio, or collaborative assignments.
Why am I assigning this assessment in this mode? What parameters do I need to set? What do I want students to learn from the process and the product?
For Students: Guide to ChatGPT. University of Arizona Library
For Instructors: AI Literacy in the age of ChatGPT. University of Arizona Library
Teaching and Mentoring with AI. GPT101. University of Arizona Data Science Institute
AI Teaching and Learning Events
Explore our calendar to find upcoming professional development offerings and other events related to AI.
Photo generated by AI (Adobe Firefly) - Prompt: Online Class