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AI in Higher Education

Ideas for Incorporating its Use

With clear instructions and a transparent process, it can be possible to incorporate Generative AI (GenAI) into your instruction. From using fully-constructed essays as a beginning and not the end point, to using AI to generate topics or outlines for writing, teachers are beginning to develop ways to live with and leverage the possibilities that GenAI presents. Here are a few ideas:

  • Deconstructing an AI-constructed text

    • Ask students to identify core features of the text and critique and improve upon the AI

  • Grading the AI

    • Given a chatbot-generated essay, have students grade it against a rubric used in the course

  • Verifying information

    • Have students attempt to verify factual claims in a text, using trusted resources

  • Create counterarguments

    • Students ask the chatbot to provide counterarguments to their thesis in order to strengthen their own arguments.

Ideas for Limiting its Use

No writing assignment where students have internet access will be entirely ChatGPT-proof. That said, here are some ideas for crafting assignments that will prevent its wholesale use by students:

  • Process writing/Scaffolding

    • Have students complete scaffolded assignments in which they turn in multiple drafts, create outlines, converse about their writing, etc. The Writing Desk can be a great resource for students who are revising their writing.

  • Local and primary sources

    • Local and primary sources such as newspapers, archival and museum collections, and original interviews are often not known to ChatGPT. Crafting assignments that ask students to use such sources can be one way to ensure students produce original writing.

    • St. Olaf's College ArchivesSpecial Collections and Flaten Art Museum possess wonderful possibilities for devising student writing and research assignments. 

  • Personal reflection

    • Have students write reflectively about their own experiences -- for example, observing how a plot of land changes over the course of the semester or writing about some aspect of their life as a student at St. Olaf.

  • Presentations/Oral exams

    • Having students present their writing and research to you and their classmates can be one way to ensure that students have learned and reflected on the topic at hand.

    • Consider adding an AI policy statement to your syllabus to the effect of: Students suspected of using AI in their written work will be asked to answer the relevant question or prompt orally to confirm their understanding of the material.