Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education

Ideas to help design assignments

Move away from the five paragraph essay. Chatbots can follow this format easily. Encourage your students' originality by moving away from this formulaic format.

  • Tip: If you want to stick with the five-paragraph essay, test out your prompt on an advanced chatbot like ChatGPT. Greene (2022) writes, "If it can come up with an essay that you would consider a good piece of work, then that prompt should be refined, reworked, or simply scrapped... if you have come up with an assignment that can be satisfactorily completed by computer software, why bother assigning it to a human being?"
  • Sticking with essays? Warner (2022) suggests focusing on process rather than product. Scaffolding learning and allowing students to explain their thinking and make learning visible along the way are strategies that may help you confirm student originality: "I talk to the students, one-on-one about themselves, about their work. If we assume students want to learn - and I do - we should show our interest in their learning, rather than their performance."

 

In the short-term, you can have your students write essays in class and on paper

  • This isn't a good long-term solution for a few reasons:
    • For longer research papers, students will have access to chatbots outside of class.
    • Students may need to use online resources for their writing.
    • You won't be able to use the LMS feedback tools for annotation, rubric scoring, and grading.
    • Note: Some students may have accommodations to type their work rather than handwrite it. Make sure to follow student accommodations when assigning work. 

 

Use collaborative activities and discussions to mitigate the use of chatbot responses in your class. While students may generate ideas from a chatbot, they will need to discuss with one another whether they want to use the chatbot responses, if they fit the prompt, and if they are factually accurate.

  • These strategies can work for online courses with a few tweaks. For discussions, ask students to post a recording rather than text. While students may generate a response using ChatGPT, creating their video will require more interaction with the content than copy-pasting a text response would.

 

Engage your students in meaning-making activities to demonstrate their learning. This could include: Skits*, Drawings and Sketches, Concept Mapping, Infographics*, Digital Storytelling*, or Write* or revise Wikipedia articles (Wiki Education). Other ideas from:

* Note that a chatbot can provide an outline for these activities.


 

Brain dumps are an ungraded recall strategy. The practice involves pausing a lecture and asking students to write everything they can recall about a specific topic. Read more at:


 

During or after writing, students explain their process or thinking. Students could:

  • Use Comments in Word or Google Docs;
  • Create a video explaining their change history on a Google Doc;
  • Use Track Changes to show their revisions.

 

Consider using planned or impromptu oral exams. You may consider including phrasing in your syllabus about conducting oral exams if you suspect plagiarism through the use of a chatbot.


 

When selecting readings, consider sourcing more obscure texts for your students to read. Chatbots may have less information in their training data on obscure texts. As an example, the New York Times reports that, "Frederick Luis Aldama, the humanities chair at the University of Texas at Austin, said he planned to teach newer or more niche texts that ChatGPT might have less information about, such as William Shakespeare’s early sonnets instead of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'" (Huang, 2023). 

(Note that ChatGPT is currently trained on data through 2021. Some educators suggest using newer writings and research, but this strategy isn't foolproof since the training models for chatbots are updated frequently.)


 

Field Observations: Coordinate times to take your class to conduct field observations; students can note their observations and write a reflection about their experience.


 

Recommended readings

References for Assignment ideas