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Faculty Guide: AI and ChatGPT

General Approach

As educators, we can either work with or work against Artificial Intelligence.  Peer-reviewed research so far is limited, but it is possible to craft assignments to utilize AI as a helpful tool. 

The library is prepared to help craft such assignments.  Contact your department's librarian to talk about possibilities.

Assignment Tips

  1. Integrate writing throughout the course rather than just at the end.
  2. Make sure syllabus allows adequate time for the assignment to be completed.  Students often resort to ChatGPT when they feel a time crunch.
  3. Use scaffolding liberally:
    • Submit a proposal (topic idea with rationale and 2-5 initial verified sources)
    • Submit working outline
    • Submit rough draft
    • Submit final paper
    • Include a final reflection on what was learned through the assignment
  4. Have students keep a research diary showing how their thesis idea changed, research strategies, what sources they found out later that they needed, what was difficult, and what was surprising about the research itself.
  5. Make the assignment interesting enough that students will not feel such need to rely on a ChatGPT box.
    • Personalize it.
      Instead of writing strictly on a topic like "Should households be allowed to direct their school taxes to private schools?", ask students to include how their position would affect their demographic as a first generation student, as an international student, as a member of a certain ethic group, etc.
    • Localize it.
      General: How does reapportionment affect voting?
      Local: How would reapportionment affect voting in Texas?
  6. Require students to consult with a librarian at the library research desk.


More:  A ChatGPT Cheat Sheet, ACU Adams Center

Different Assignment Types

  • Create an Infographic.

It can be surprisingly hard to condense a big topic into something that can be read at a glance.  Requires finding data and citing, making judgements about importance, summarizing succinctly, persuasive storytelling, and design skills.

  • Create a video.
  • Create an annotated bibliography.

Annotations should go beyond merely summarizing to indicate how the source would contribute to the overall argument.

  • Give a presentation in class.
  • Hold a debate

Debates have flexible time limits and require real time responses, a good way of encouraging deeper understanding.

Sample Assignment Prompts

Alex Gil (Yale) Introduction to Digital Humanities: Computational Approaches to Culture

The final paper for this class may be the strangest final paper you have submitted for a grade in your whole life. You won’t be writing this one alone. You won’t be writing it with another person either, not directly in any case. You also won’t even be writing the first draft. No, AI will do that. The way this works is simple: pick a topic related to your current research. Using GPT3, or GPT4 (if it’s out already) you will have the machine write the first pass. Your job is to correct and edit the work to bring it up to your standards. You will submit the original AI draft, and your final version.

Bonus:  To earn the bonus round points—an additional 20% that all but guarantees you will receive the highest honors in this class—you must convince me of a use for AI text or image generation in Humanities research.


ChatGPT: Threat or Menace? Inside Higher Ed Blog

ChatGPT redefines what expertise means.  Humans must be able to do things AI cannot do.  Here are the new skills that ChatGPT will cause to be most in demand, along with an example assignment for encouraging those skills.

1.  Know what Questions to Ask

The real skill is identifying knowledge gaps and figuring out how to learn what one needs to know.  With AI, responses hinge on proper prompts.  The clearer the prompt, the better the information returned.

Assignment:  Learning What Questions to Ask:

You need to generate a 5 paragraph essay on a topic relevant to the lessons you have learned in the class so far, but you are going to have an AI do it for you. You will also generate at least 1 illustration to go with your essay.  Generate at least 5 prompts, and they had to write a reflection at the end on how the AI did. (full guide at My class required AI. Here's what I've learned so far on One Useful Thing).

2.  Go beyond crowdsourced knowledge.

AI will inevitably contain errors from a general knowledge pool.  The ability to spot inaccuracies and to know when reliability should be verified will be highly valued.

Assignment:  Reading Critically

Ask students to identify a major question or challenge in the field.  Have them use chatGPT to write a response to their question or challenge.  Ask students to reflect on chatGPT’s output (e.g., what is correct, incorrect, what they don’t know if it is correct or incorrect, what should they look up elsewhere to verify, what should they ask chatGPT next) and use a different color text to insert where a citation might be needed, what should be verified, where the logic is flawed, etc. (full guide at Update Your Course Syllabus for chatGPT by Ryan Watkins,

3. Leverage AI-generated insights into decisions and actions.

Artificial intelligence gives general information but cannot apply it or evaluate it.  The real future skill will be using knowledge to address and improve a problem.

Assignment:  Problem-based assignment

For an environmental science class:  Identify an environmental issue that affects Abilene (recycling, water quality, wildfires, etc.)  Research the problem and why it is an issue locally.  Identify a possible solution to help mitigate the problem (media campaign for public awareness, change in local policy, government incentives, etc.)  Create an action plan with accompanying artifacts and pitch your idea to the rest of the class or to a panel of departmental professors who will act as the city council in considering your plan.