GPT and Teaching

At the end of last semester my department asked me to hold an info session about using GPT in the classroom. I went ahead and prepared this document for them. While it is a fast changing set of issues, I think this is still a good introduction for folks who are just beginning to think about how GPT will impact their classroom.

Andrew’s 10 Tips for GPT Transparency

1. Make GPT part of the classroom. Students know about it, students are using it, bring it into the discussion. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist!

2. Take GPT for a test run on your material. How does GPT do answering your questions? Test it on class discussion questions, tests, essays, etc. Get comfortable with what it sounds like but also how your assignments fare in a GPT world.

3. Assess GPT for accuracy with your students. Students are often unaware of the hallucination problem, i.e. that GPT makes up information (including citations). Show them when it goes off the rails and when to trust it (if ever). Use concrete examples from your material! (Don’t paint AI with a broad brush, it’s complicated.)

4. Use GPT as a tool of critical reflection. Sometimes I ask GPT questions and then we analyze the answers together. This can be in the domain of close reading, creating stories, or analytical exercises in reasoning. It can be productive to look at someone else’s writing (even if someone else is an AI). 

5. Decide on your AI writing policy. (See mine at the end of this document.) AI can be used for brainstorming, writing, and editing. Decide how you feel about the use of AI for each of these activities. What are your trying to test? When can the technology help students be more thoughtful and creative and when does it substitute for creativity and thinking?

6. Treat AI writing like any other form of plagiarism. The simplest version is to treat AI generated text as citable discourse, i.e. students are not allowed to include it in their assignments without proper citation. Everything else is considered the same as any non-authored text (copied, written by someone else, etc). It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re concerned, then just do more in class writing. They can’t use AI with a pen (not yet anyway). This is the simplest of all options.

7. Remember there are a spectrum of opinions out there. They range from one pole that says we should be training students to utilize AI to solve problems. Thus, they should be learning with AI in all of their assignments, including writing. The other end of the spectrum says that AI pollutes the growth and development of student thinking. We need to keep it out of their hands until they’ve demonstrated proficiency in a given area. We don’t have data yet to support either of these positions. For now keep an open mind in both directions! 

8. Modularize your assignments so you can see their work at every stage. This is more work but break down writing into discrete parts so they can engage in more long term reflective and constructive thinking (i.e. the hallmark of writing). Maybe we just need to dedicate more class time to this now. It certainly wouldn’t hurt!

9. Share your experiences. Everyone is in the dark on this. We’re all affected. Share successful and unsuccessful exercises and share when you’ve had concerns about the authenticity of student work. What led to it and what did you do?

10. Be sympathetic towards the ambiguity of the situation. Students face a very uncertain intellectual and disciplinary landscape when it comes to AI (teachers too!). Right now they will encounter different policies and beliefs in every class they take. Give them the benefit of the doubt and take the stance that you are helping them (and yourself) become more comfortable with this technology. When is it useful and when do we want to put it aside? Bring them into that conversation!

AI Writing Policy I include on my syllabi:

GPT Disclosure Agreement:

This class maintains a policy that you may use AI writing tools to assist you in the writing process but that all artificially generated text needs to be explicitly labeled. In handing in your assignment you agree to disclose the extent to which you used #chatGPT or other AI writing tools in your assignment. All text written by AI must be quoted with the source of the model in parentheses (chatGPT). At the end of your paper please include the following statement. Failure to adequately disclose your AI use will result in a 0 for the assignment.  

“This paper used (did not use) AI for the following components of the writing process:” 

Choose none to three of the following: brainstorming, editing, sentence generation