The use of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool able to produce written work that sounds convincingly human-produced, exploded in popularity in late 2022 and poses many questions in higher education related to academic integrity and the authenticity of work produced by our students. While artificial intelligence is not new, the viral adoption of ChatGPT raises an unprecedented awareness in our community of AI’s capabilities. Its adoption is widespread, reaching one million users within five days (Altman, 2022) and 17% of Stanford University students already using it in some capacity in their Fall 2022 final assignments or exams (Cu & Hochman, 2022).
It is our responsibility as educators to empower ourselves with the information and experience necessary to properly field questions, acknowledge the potential benefits, uses and misuses of the tool, and understand how to leverage instructional design strategies and available technologies to both embrace the possibilities it offers while mitigating the abuse and misuse of artificial intelligence to shortcut student work.
Navigate the sections below to familiarize yourself with the capabilities of chatGPT and learn more about how to acknowledge, detect, and mitigate the use of AI in your classroom.
- Understanding the Capabilities of ChatGPT
- Approaching Artificial Intelligence In Your Class
- Instructional Design Strategies to Mitigate the Use of AI
- Leveraging Technology to Detect AI-Produced Works
- Incorporating AI Into Your Course
Understanding the Capabilities of ChatGPT
As of January 2023, ChatGPT is freely available for unlimited use. However, this is unlikely to be the case indefinitely. While it’s free, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the tool by trying it yourself on OpenAI’s website. After selecting ‘Try ChatGPT,’ you’ll need to create an account to access the service. After verifying your name and phone number, you’ll be navigated to the main user interface where you can enter prompts in the text box at the bottom of your screen. Responses from the AI will appear above the text box.
Generating useful and accurate output from the AI requires submitting requests and questions which properly prompt the AI to produce your desired content. ChatGPT is only as smart as what you ask of it, so consider the following when writing your prompts:
- Assign roles: For example, instead of asking “Provide restaurant recommendations for a trip to Italy,” try asking “I’d like you to act as a travel agent and provide breakfast and dinner recommendations for a 4-night trip.” Understand that in the context of academia, students could leverage this to prompt “I’d like you to act as a student and write a 4-page paper on the Titanic.”
- Be specific and responsive: ChatGPT not only produces output to your initial prompt – it is responsive, as well. For example, prompting it to write a 4-page paper on the Titanic does not include sources and citations by default. However, responding to the initial paper with “Same paper with scholarly sources” will enhance the output with in-text citations and an APA-formatted reference list. You could even respond with “Same paper in MLA format” to switch it to a different citation style. This flexibility and adaptability is powerful for students who may misuse the tool to produce work on their behalf.
Being familiar with the tool’s limitations also aids in recognizing content generated by it:
- Remember it is not a search engine: ChatGPT is trained on data sets, making its knowledge base less timely and accurate than Google and other search engines (Marr, 2023). This makes it unable to acknowledge and respond to current events since its knowledge cutoff is in 2021. If you prompt it for today’s headlines, ChatGPT responds with: “I’m sorry, I am a language model and I don’t have the capability to know the current news or today’s headlines as my knowledge cut-off was done in 2021 and my training data may not have the most recent information.”
- Know the characteristics and limits of AI writing: While the style and tone of AI-produced material is seemingly accurate to human-produced writing on its surface, reviewing it through a more analytical lens quickly exposes its flaws. According to OpenAI’s documentation on ChatGPT, responses may be:
- Factually inaccurate: Data set limitations can result in “plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers” (OpenAI).
- Broad, and oversimplified: Responses are ”often excessively verbose and overuse certain phrases” (OpenAI).
- Biased: ChatGPT can “sometimes respond to harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior” (OpenAI).
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Approaching Artificial Intelligence In Your Class
Empowered with an understanding of the tool’s capabilities and potential, decide to what extent you will (or won’t) acknowledge ChatGPT in your course. Consider the subject matter and assignments in your course(s) and the ways artificial intelligence may be leveraged by your students. As with any new and developing technology, your response may change over time with experience and as the tool itself evolves.
You may consider one or more of the following:
- Discuss it openly with your students: You may already lead conversations at the beginning of each semester defining norms, expectations, and general class policies. Consider how ChatGPT can be part of these discussions. Defining your perspective on the tool facilitates transparency and reduces ambiguity.
- Develop a formal syllabus policy: After defining your own stance on the use of ChatGPT in your course, develop a syllabus policy to reflect your encouragement and/or discouragement of how AI is used. This is not necessarily an all-or-nothing approach; there may be ways that students can leverage ChatGPT (i.e. for inspiration and ideas) while still ultimately producing authentic work of their own.
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Instructional Design Strategies to Mitigate the Use of AI
While restricting access to ChatGPT may not be possible, there are strategies you can implement that will mitigate its use. Many methods we recommend for preventing the use of AI in your course relate to best practices for online assessment. For example, when thinking about assessment, give preference to authentic activities (have students apply their learning to a real-world problem). Authenticity challenges chatbots to be hyperspecific, something that they struggle with given their predefined data sets. Additionally, incorporate a variety of assessment strategies in your course. Having students illustrate their learning in multi-dimensional ways provides more opportunities to express themselves and apply their thinking, but can also help prevent misuse of AI.
Additional strategies to mitigate the use of AI include:
- Foster student investment/volition via transparency: Have conversations with students about how the skills they learn in your course are important in the real-world. Understanding the value of what is being learned can be an effective deterrent to taking a “shortcut” using AI technology.
- Low-stakes, chunked assignments: Segmenting larger assessments into smaller, lower-stakes assignments provides students additional opportunities for feedback while emphasizing the importance of revision and progress. Higher-stakes assessments can motivate students to cheat, so creating smaller, chunked, assignments at lower stakes can be effective in mitigating misuse of AI tools.
- Submit drafts: Drafting places emphasis on the writing process. Asking students to submit drafts provides an opportunity to analyze changes from one draft to the next. In Google Docs, it is also possible to track a document’s changes.
- Handwritten work: Consider asking students to submit handwritten assignments rather than text that could be copy-and-pasted from a third-party source like ChatGPT. Instructors are encouraged to import ITDS’s student-centric tutorial, How to Scan Your Handwritten Work, into their own course.
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Leveraging Technology to Detect AI-Produced Works
- Turnitin, Montclair’s plagiarism detection vendor, recently addressed the issues AI writing poses. Read more about this topic on the Turnitin website: AI writing: The challenge and opportunity in front of education now
- Respondus LockDown Browser is a viable tool for proctored environments. It disables copy/paste, screenshotting, and the ability to shift between applications while taking an exam. The Monitor component requires students to use a webcam, which can be optimal for remotely proctored exams.
- Third-Party AI Detection Tools are becoming increasingly popular; however, the validity of these tools can sometimes be questionable. ITDS recommends caution when using these tools as they are susceptible to both false positives and false negatives. Given that these tools are new, it is difficult to determine if their utility will change drastically in the near future.
- GPTZero: Despite currently circulating as the most viable AI plagiarism detector, this tool can easily be fooled by minor tweaks to phrasing and language of AI-generated works. It is worth noting that its detection technology is continuously being developed and updated, so accuracy may increase over time.
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Incorporating AI into Your Course
As with many challenging technologies before it, ChatGPT has prompted a strong response from educators, ranging from cautious optimism to outright skepticism. It’s understandable to proceed with caution, since the misuse of AI chatbots like ChatGPT is easily done. However, there can be benefits to incorporating this technology to enhance teaching and learning; consider having open conversations with students regarding the misuse of AI, but also ponder the possibilities of how this technology can be helpful to them as learners.
Here are some ways ChatGPT can be leveraged as a teaching and learning tool:
- Feedback assistant: Students can ask ChatGPT for feedback on how to improve their writing. For example, it may suggest a student add more specificity to their writing by incorporating additional examples, adding transitions, or even give recommendations to include alternative perspectives. Consider having students keep record of the feedback they receive to incorporate into their writing, or analyze the feedback and justify if they are valid recommendations or not.
- Act as an English Professor and provide recommendations to enhance this paper: [copy and paste text]
- Debate partner: To help students exercise strong argumentation, they can prompt ChatGPT to act as a debate partner (Roose, 2023). By asking ChatGPT to take a particular stance on an issue, students can develop counterarguments and spar with the chatbot. This can help students develop deeper understandings of alternative perspectives, prepare for an actual debate in class, or enhance argumentation for a persuasive assignment.
- Act as my debate partner for the topic of “Banning Books in Public Schools.” Play the role of a parent who wants to censor texts they feel should not be read by high school students.
- Additional point-of-view: Incorporate ChatGPT into a class discussion by modifying the traditional “Think, Pair, Share” format to, “Think, Pair, ChatGPT, Share” (Miller, 2022). Inviting an AI perspective can provide another critical lens for students to collectively analyze.
- Ask ChatGPT the same question you’ve posed to students (or have students ask ChatGPT the question). After generating an initial response, try prompting ChatGPT with the following: Now, answer the same question from the perspective of a [insert persona].
- Prompt generator: As an educator, consider using ChatGPT to help create discussion prompts for your students on a topic or based on a particular (open access) text. You’ll need to provide the link to the text for ChatGPT to access and develop its questions.
- As a journalism professor, create a short prompt that will inspire college students to write an open-ended response about the media’s effect on society.
- Quiz creator: ChatGPT can create open-ended or multiple choice quiz questions based on a text you provide (Roose, 2023). Be sure to double-check that questions are accurate.
- Develop 5 open-ended and 5 multiple choice questions based on this article [insert link].
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References and Resources
Altman, S, [@sama]. (2022, December 5). ChatGPT launched on wednesday. today it crossed 1 million users!. Twitter.
Cu, M.A. & Hochman, S. (2023). Scores of Stanford students used ChatGPT on final exams, survey suggests. The Stanford Daily.
Marr, B. (2023). ChatGPT: Everything You Really Need to Know (In Simple Terms). Future Tech Trends.
Miller, M. (2022). “ChatGPT, Chatbots and ARtificial Intelligence in Education.” Ditch That Textbook. Retrieved from https://ditchthattextbook.com/ai/
Roose, K. (2023). “Don’t Ban ChatGPT in Schools. Teach With It.: The Shift.” The New York Times.