ChatGPT: Perspectives and Strategies for Prohibiting, Reducing, or Embracing it in Your Curriculum
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Require students to enable track changes throughout assignment components to see their work in progress. Additionally, you might require students to detail their brainstorming process, explain why they chose to write about a particular topic, or show how they arrived at a particular answer to get credit for solving a problem.
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ChatGPT is a conversational AI system that uses natural language processing techniques to generate human-like text. When users enter a prompt, ChatGPT can produce essays, create text summaries, build case studies, and provide answers to assessment questions and problem sets. Artificial intelligence (AI) is not new, but the widespread adoption of ChatGPT in late 2022 brought unprecedented attention to the capabilities of AI. Understandably, ChatGPT and other AI tools (i.e, Google’s Bard, Jasper, Sudowrite, paraphrasing tool Quillbot, image generator tools DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, or slide generator Beautiful.AI) raise concerns among instructors related to academic integrity and the authenticity of student work submitted in their classes. Presently, educators are divided on whether they want to prohibit, reduce, or embrace AI generative tool usage in their classrooms.
The AI landscape is rapidly changing, and we can only speculate how it will impact our work and education in the coming months and years. However, CATE has some guidelines and tips to approach ChatGPT usage in your current classroom.
Current Limitations of ChatGPT
Researchers and writers in the edtech sphere have identified the following shortcomings of ChatGPT in its current free research preview mode:
- ChatGPT may occasionally generate seemingly credible but incorrect responses, including nonexistent text citations and the occasional incorrect mathematical calculation (Azaria 2022, Southern 2023).
- Text generated by ChatGPT may sound plausible but upon closer examination be incorrect or even invented. This phenomenon, known as the “hallucination effect,” is a common issue among many natural language processing models (Xiao & Wang 2021). If using ChatGPT, CATE suggests that you verify all text it produces with peer-reviewed sources and then cite the evidence.
- Depending on the prompt input, ChatGPT may generate broad and oversimplified responses that can be repetitive. Refining prompt input can improve ChatGPT’s response output. To learn more about creating effective prompts, consult this article: ChatGPT Guide: Six basic prompt strategies for better results
- ChatGPT may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content. This is due to the data sets from which it is drawing its information. For example, if it is trained on data that contains a bias against a certain group of people, the system may make decisions that are unfair or discriminatory towards that group (van Dis et al. 2023)
- ChatGPT has limited access to information, events, and media that occurred after 2021. Currently, it cannot collect information from social media or search the active internet (OpenAI. 2023).
How to Approach ChatGPT in Your Classroom
- Share with students your personal stance on ChatGPT and other AI tools in the classroom. Defining your own thoughts on ChatGPT brings transparency to the issue and clarifies the ethical implication of ChatGPT usage in the classroom. You likely already discuss norms, expectations, and general class policies with your students. Consider how ChatGPT can be part of these discussions.
- Develop and include an AI usage policy in your syllabus. After sharing your viewpoint with students on the use of ChatGPT in your course, develop a policy to reflect AI-usage expectations in your classroom and include this policy in your syllabus. Consulting page 11 of UIC’s Student Disciplinary Policy provides information on Academic Integrity that can be applied to the usage of ChatGPT and other AI tools.
To see how other colleges and universities are approaching AI in the classroom, consult this working document: Classroom Policies for AI Generative Tools
Strategies to Reduce ChatGPT Reliance or Misuse
- Check that students aren’t submitting AI content for their assignments. There are online tools that attempt to detect AI-generated content, such as GPTZero, Originality.ai, GLTR.io, and OpenAI Classifier. However, the accuracy of their detection efficacy is not conclusive at the time of this blog release.
- Test out the tool. If you feel comfortable using ChatGPT, test out the type of responses it may generate for an assignment in your course. This may shed light on areas of an assignment that you may consider adjusting to promote more authentic work. Consult CATE’s Authentic Assessment Teaching Guide for more information on authentic products, performances, and teaching methods.
- Make student work collaborative. Consider adding group work to your courses, which is an engaged teaching strategy that facilitates student collaboration and makes ChatGPT’s auto-generated text largely irrelevant to the group work completed in class. Attend CATE’s upcoming workshop: Implementing Effective Group Work to Support Student Learning to learn more about applying effective group work strategies to your courses.
- Scaffold student assignments. Segmenting large assignments into smaller, lower-stakes assignments provides students additional opportunities for feedback while emphasizing the importance of revision and progress, practices consistent with fostering a growth mindset among your students. This could include crafting incremental assignments that build from paper proposals with curated resources, draft submission of their work, and culminating with final work submissions. This strategy enables you to see the entire scope of a student’s process. Additionally, the inclusion of citations students curated in the initial paper proposals and applied to the final work submissions will make much of ChatGPT’s generated text irrelevant.
- Get familiar with your students’ writing or problem-solving processes. Require students to enable track changes throughout assignment components to see their work in progress. Additionally, you might require students to detail their brainstorming process, explain why they chose to write about a particular topic, or show how they arrived at a particular answer to get credit for solving a problem.
- Connect assignments to the classroom. Consider connecting assignment prompts to in-class instructional materials and learning activities. ChatGPT does not have access to what happens in class, so requiring the inclusion of ideas that are specific to your courses makes ChatGPT less useful.
- Make assignments personal, timely, and locally specific. Include assignment components that can only be created by students themselves. This can include self-reflection, specific personal experiences, topics related to their local community, or current events.
- Craft assignments that require higher-level cognitive skills. Assignments that require students to apply, analyze, or evaluate what they have learned limit students’ ability to submit ChatGPT-generated work as their own.
- Include multimedia assignment opportunities. Consider including assignments that incorporate multiple ways for students to submit their work, such as presentations, videos, or podcasts. Consult CATE’s Universal Design for Learning Teaching Guide to learn more about evidence-based principles that support multimodal assignments.
Embracing ChatGPT in Your Classroom
Rather than focus on the negative implications of ChatGPT, many instructors approach the tool as an opportunity to shift teaching and learning in a new and innovative direction. AI generative tools are going to improve with time and are likely a permanent fixture in our students’ professional, educational, and personal lives. To remain competitive throughout their careers, students need hands-on experience with these tools to understand how they work. They also need to learn how to craft prompts to garner useful output and evaluate AI text output for quality, accuracy, and originality. Furthermore, students need to be able to write well-structured and cohesive essays that combine AI-generated content and traditional writing and they need to be able to interact effectively with AI systems, leveraging their capability to meld their creativity with AI technology.
Educators around the world are exploring AI-generative tools and developing creative classroom activities and assessments. Here are just a few examples that actively use ChatGPT as part of the learning activity.
Think * Pair * ChatGPT * Pair * Share
- Think: Introduce the topic by asking students to silently ponder the topic. Encourage students to brainstorm as many ideas as possible.
- Pair: Have students pair up with a partner to share their thoughts and discuss the topic.
- ChatGPT: Ask students to individually conduct a quick search on ChatGPT to find more information on the topic. Students should take notes on what they find as well as review ChatGPT’s output and evaluate whether it supports or contradicts their own ideas and/or that of their partner.
- Pair: After conducting research on ChatGPT, students pair with their original partner again to discuss what they learned. This time, they should focus on sharing the facts or statistics they found.
- Share: Finally, have each pair share one fact or statistic they found with the whole class. Summarize the information generated by the class and discuss (Dillard, 2022)
ChatGPT reflection and revision assignment
- Ask students to identify a major question or challenge in a specific field or discipline.
- Next, ask students to create a ChatGPT prompt that responds to the question or challenge identified above.
- Then, have students reflect on ChatGPT’s output. What did ChatGPT answer correctly or incorrectly? What steps are needed to verify generated content? Are there additional follow-up prompts that should be posed to ChatGPT to improve output?
- Next, have students revise and improve the output of ChatGPT by correcting errors and expanding or enhancing content. During this step, make sure that students have enabled track changes in their documents.
- Finally, have students submit the initial prompt, ChatGPT’s output, and their revision of the ChatGPT response (Watkins, 2022).
Critical thinking exercise: evaluate credibility and reliability of AI-generated text vs. traditional writing and research
1.First, have students select a topic of interest.
2. Next, require them to find two AI-produced articles and two sources of non-AI-generated information (e.g., scholarly articles, news articles from reputable sources, government reports, etc.) related to their chosen topic.
3. Then, direct students to read and analyze each of the four sources, paying attention to the following factors:
- Does the source come from a reputable and trustworthy source? Is the information accurate and reliable?
- Does the source provide comprehensive and accurate information on the topic? Does it cover all aspects of the issue?
- Does the source present a balanced view of the topic, or is there bias towards a particular viewpoint?
4. Ask students to analyze each of the four sources, addressing the following questions:
- What is the main argument or thesis of the source?
- What evidence or data is provided to support the argument?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the source in terms of credibility, accuracy, and depth of information?
- How does the source compare to the other sources in terms of reliability, accuracy, and depth of information?
5. Finally, ask students to summarize their findings.
A large collection of educator-generated ChatGPT assignments can be found at Creating a collection of 101 creative ideas to use AI in education – #creativeHE
ChatGPT Applications in the Classroom
Below are some additional ideas for educational uses of ChatGPT aimed at both students and instructors (Miller, 2022).
Ideas for students:
- Use ChatGPT to generate writing prompts or to brainstorm new ideas. Encourage students to use ChatGPT to experiment with different writing styles, such as poetry or stream-of-consciousness writing.
- Use ChatGPT to expand their vocabulary and to find synonyms, antonyms, or context-specific vocabulary words. Students can also use ChatGPT to practice using new vocabulary words in context by creating their own sentences or paragraphs (ChatGPT, 2023)
- Use ChatGPT as a more complex, nuanced source of answers to student questions than Google.
- Use ChatGPT to remix student work into different genres (soap opera, playscript, sonnet, rap battle, sea shanty, Jedi Code, etc.)
- Use ChatGPT to summarize texts students are reading. This can help them understand what they just read or serve as a review.
- Use ChatGPT to provide in-the-moment tutoring and coaching for students.
Ideas for instructors:
- Use ChatGPT to revise lesson plans, craft learning objectives, or brainstorm new ideas.
- Use ChatGPT to adjust instruction/learning to make it more personalized to student needs.
- Ask ChatGPT to give your students immediate feedback on their writing.
- Use ChatGPT to automate some teaching tasks, such as writing quiz questions and discussion prompts.
Azaria, Amos. (2022). ChatGPT Usage and Limitations. ResearchGate 10.13140/RG.2.2.26616.11526.
ChatGPT, personal communication, February 16, 2023.
Dillard, S. [@dillardsarah]. (2022, December 5). Augmenting think-pair-share with ChatGPT [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/dillardsarah/status/1599780722297872384.
Miller, M. [@jmattmiller]. (2022, December 19). ChatGPT doesn’t just write your students’ essays for you: 20 ways ChatGPT can help you teach/learn. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/jmattmiller/status/1604848234614120448
Southern, M. G. (2023, January 11). OpenAI’s CHATGPT update brings improved accuracy. Search Engine Journal. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/openai-chatgpt-update/476116/#close
van Dis, E. A. M., Bollen, J., Zuidema, W., van Rooij, R., & Bockting, C. L. (2023). ChatGPT: five priorities for research. Nature (London), 614(7947), 224–.
Watkins, R. (2022, December 19). Update your course syllabus for chatgpt. Medium. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://medium.com/@rwatkins_7167/updating-your-course-syllabus-for-chatgpt-965f4b57b003
Xiao, Y., & Wang, W.Y. (2021). On Hallucination and Predictive Uncertainty in Conditional Language Generation. ArXiv, abs/2103.15025.