Monday, August 7, 2023

While the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) over the past year is changing the way we work, teach, and learn, the university’s mission to provide a transformational educational experience that prepares our students for success remains the same.

How can you, as an educator, most effectively respond to AI in the classroom? Here are a few steps and tips to guide you as we approach the fall 2023 semester:

Understand the Capabilities of AI

In addition to being able to put together an effective essay or solve problems, emerging AI features such as internet browser plugins can help generate answers to assessment and homework questions.

However, AI technology does have its limitations. AI-generated text can sometimes lack the appropriate context, invent false information, produce biased responses, or provide inaccurate citations. It is crucial students learn how to use AI tools effectively and ethically, and for instructors to facilitate this learning.

The Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology (OTLT) and the Center for Teaching (CfT) have compiled resources to help faculty adapt to the evolving role of AI in the classroom. These include guidance on how to incorporate AI tools into assignments, recommendations for developing AI-resistant assessments, and tips on maintaining academic integrity.

OTLT and CfT will begin convening an AI in Teaching Community of Practice that will meet monthly to explore the implications of generative AI, such as ChatGPT, in higher education. Members will discuss ideas and practices related to generative AI in the classroom. 

Develop Clear AI Policies

Provide your students with clear instructions about permissible AI uses that align with your course goals and values. The Artificial Intelligence Tools and Teaching webpage has sample policy language for the use of AI tools in a variety of contexts that you can incorporate into your syllabus. The Chronicle of Higher Education also recently shared advice on what to consider when drafting course policies on students’ use of tools like ChatGPT.

It's important to discuss the appropriate use of AI tools in the context of learning materials and policies related to academic integrity. Instructors also should initiate ongoing conversations about these policies throughout the semester. Students must understand how they can appropriately use AI tools and other resources in their work, as well as how to cite or acknowledge their use of these tools.

Adapt Assignments and Assessments for AI

While it will be challenging to make assignments completely "AI-proof," focusing on ways students can demonstrate their learning can make this task more manageable. Assignments that are closely tied to specific information shared during the course and that focus on the students' own learning are less likely to be completed successfully by AI.

Suggested strategies for AI-resistant assessment include:

  • Developing specific prompts tied to course materials
  • Scaffolding assignments to include several stages
  • Incorporating a metacognitive component where students describe their process and what they learned from it
  • Focusing assessments on current events and recent classroom discussions not included in AI training datasets

Before finalizing an assignment, explore how AI like ChatGPT responds to your prompt and consider whether you need to alter it to ensure that students demonstrate their learning in an authentic way.

Assess AI’s Role in Your Teaching Strategy

Have you explored whether AI tools can enhance your teaching and student learning? It is possible to use AI tools to assist students with tasks without compromising learning objectives. For instance, students at the Tippie College of Business learn to use ChatGPT as a research and writing tool. If an AI tool can enhance learning without compromising academic integrity, it may be a valuable addition to your course.

Consider ways to integrate AI purposefully into your teaching, like assignments that prepare students to interact with AI in their future careers. Then review the impact of AI on your teaching and students' learning. Encourage feedback from your students and be open to making changes.

Continue to Monitor the Impact of AI

The UI is closely monitoring the impact of AI and is actively taking steps to address concerns related to AI use.

Academic leaders and faculty from across the university recently formed a new committee to explore the impact of AI on academics. The committee will assess and provide guidance to faculty, staff, and students about the opportunities and challenges of AI in the academic setting.

The university also is providing new tools and guidance in response to some of the latest AI features, like browser plugins that students could use to complete assignments or answer quiz questions. ITS efforts include monitoring developments, escalating AI issues and opportunities with instructional technology vendors, blocking known plugins that threaten academic integrity on university-managed computers in Instructional Technology Centers and testing centers, and adding messages to instructors on ICON’s quiz page to inform them of the latest developments.