When deciding on using AI tools for assignments it is important instructors do not assume learners know how to use them. Students need to learn to use the tools responsibly and they may need instructor guidance to do so. To support this, instructors should add proper language to their syllabi concerning academic integrity standards that specify how the AI tool should be used in the course, or in a specific assignment.
When assigning work with ChatGPT or any AI tool, make sure there is a clear connection between the activity and the learning goals, and that all the steps are clear and easy to follow from the learner’s perspective. It is also recommended you experiment with the tool before implementing it, so you can get to experience it and reflect on different uses for your courses. For ideas on how to get started, check pages such as the ChatGPT documentation website which includes strategies for getting better results.
When using AI tools, there are several important considerations:
- Ensure that all activities align with the learning objectives of a module or lesson and the tool needs to be used in a meaningful way that enhances and optimizes student learning.
- Include a clear explanation of the purpose for using the tool as part of each assignment description in the syllabus.
- Include clear instructions or provide links to information on how to use each tool.
- Include detailed instructions for individual tasks that provide clear parameters for how the tool may and may not be used.
- Provide prompts to be used with an AI tool to scaffold students’ learning. These may help them learn to use the tool and/or guide them through an activity. Good prompts are essential for attaining good results.
- Teach students to write good prompts that include clear instructions.
- Teach students to divide complex tasks into simpler tasks, when necessary.
Sample student use cases for Chat GPT:
- As a search engine
The instructor gives an individual or group assignment which requires students to collect information/data on a specific topic or prompt question, and students then compile the information to share with group members or the whole class. This could be step one into a larger written or group discussion activity.
- As a language learning tool
The instructor gives a word to students they need to find the translation for in Chat GPT and examples of contexts in which that word could be used in. Then, in class, the instructor can give some themes where they could apply that word they looked for and ask them to generate a sentence or a short paragraph using that word under the defined theme by the instructor. After students generate their own sentences or paragraphs, they can ask Chat GPT to check for accuracy of their sentences. The sentences can be shared in class so the instructor could discuss how accurate Chat GPT was in its feedback to students and discuss that with learners.
- To build interview skills
The instructor gives an assignment where students will have to practice their interview skills to get a job in the field, they want to using Chat GPT. This activity could be done either using just chat GPT as a role-play simulation of an interview, or the activity could be done in pairs, where the AI can be used just to curate a set of questions that could be asked to the person being interviewed. Students can first do a primary search to see what questions they could be answering, and then the instructor could have students work in pairs for a simulation.
- For resume or cover letter revisions
The instructor asks students to enter their resumes and/or cover letters in Chat GPT to improve the organization or language used. Ideally it would be important that students understand the basics of writing a resume and a cover letter before they use the tool. The instructor can segment the experience by breaking the steps down to students and asking them to record their process. One example would ask the students to copy a part of the cover letter into the AI tool and then ask Chat GPT to improve the quality of writing of a given paragraph, suggesting modifications and explaining why this would need to be modified. Students could then compare their version to the ChatGPT version reflecting if the tool provided a better or worse version of their original work. This activity could help students develop critical thinking about their own writing, as well as the suggestions provided by the AI tool.
- For suggestions for grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure
The instructor tells students to copy and paste a passage of an essay/ written assignment into the tool and then students enter a prompt in the tool such as “improve the writing on this paragraph to ensure I am using the correct grammar”. Students are then asked to compare their initial text paragraph with the one generated by ChatGPT and discuss the modifications in class as a group discussion, or a whole class discussion.
- To provide feedback on essays (structure)
The instructor asks students to paste an essay onto Chat GPT and then give learners prompt questions so they can input into the AI asking for specific questions, like looking into feedback regarding the structure of the essay. It is important that the request is focused as opposed to a general one, for cognitive load reasons. Questions with more details will ensure the tool will be more specific with the responses. This could be a good starting tool for peer feedback. Students can then re-write based on the AI suggestions and then submit for a review of a classmate.
- To generate ideas on a specific topic or generate writing prompts
The instructor asks students to use the tool as a brainstorming tool to generate ideas for class discussion or even to create an outline for an essay or even a writing prompt when students have no ideas. It could be used in early stages of group work, when the team members are deciding on a topic or outline.
- For debate/discussion generation
The instructor can ask ChatGPT to create a claim or argument and ask Chat GPT to refute it and use the rebuttal in order to strengthen the original argument. “This is feedback focused on content, which could help during the writing and revision process.”
- To create writing samples for revision
“An interesting exercise could be for students to strengthen a ChatGPT response by experimenting with elements of syntax, tone, and different types of diction that are more authentic to their writing voice. Or students could focus on content by adding claims, evidence, or analysis or reorganize the structure. An important part of the activity would be a metacognitive element on the how and why of changes made.”
- As a study tool
Students can ask questions to ChatGPT on muddy areas for them. But again, students should tell the AI to cite its sources, because the tool makes mistakes and can give false information. Students should verify the information on Google or in the class materials provided. The instructor could use the tool to document issues and bring awareness of the limitations of the tool for the learners.
It’s important to note that while ChatGPT can be a valuable resource, it should not replace the role of teachers or human interaction in the classroom. Its use should be integrated alongside traditional teaching methods, with teachers guiding students in utilizing the model effectively and critically evaluating its responses.
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