How Do I Consider the Impact of AI Tools like ChatGPT in My Courses?

How Do I Consider the Impact of AI Tools like ChatGPT in My Courses?

Robot staring at a board of computational figures

"Artificial Intelligence & AI & Machine Learning" by mikemacmarketing is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Students may be interested in using artificial Intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT (an AI tool that can immediately craft text in response to users’ prompts) to enhance their own writing. Conversely, faculty may be apprehensive of students’ AI use in demonstrations of their learning, such as through writing research papers, creating code and scripts, or solving problem sets. However, some instructors may even be interested in using AI tools in their courses to create novel learning experiences. As you navigate where you might fall on this continuum, we encourage you to review the following strategies and examples when considering AI use in your courses. 


  • Examine Privacy and Data Collection Practices. Before encouraging or asking students to use AI tools in their work, investigate how these tools collect personal information and data, including reading any privacy policy linked with a particular AI tool. Some tools may use log-in data, tracking, and other analytics (Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, 2023). This same advice applies to you, as a faculty member. Should you want to input your existing writing prompts into an AI tool to see the output, consider your own data privacy. Instructors who may want to make use of ChatGPT or other technology tools in their classes should note that, as with any online service that is not contracted by the university, in view of FERPA regulations, students must not be required to identify themselves to third parties.
  • Write a syllabus statement that clarifies the expectations of AI use. The Faculty Senate Rules Committee has made a determination that, absent any guidance from the instructor, the use of ChatCPT and similar AI text generators is prohibited according to the Academic Honesty Policy. Instructors do have the discretion to allow for the use of such tools, however, and must do so explicitly if they want to allow it. Stating what you expect students to use (or not use) in their work helps to answer any questions around what extra support is permittable. Depending on your pedagogical values and course expectations, consider adopting or revising one of the statements below for your syllabus. (All statements adapted from Artificial Intelligence Tools and Teaching by Iowa University’s Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology.) 
    • AI is prohibited: [This course] assumes that all work submitted by students will be generated by the students themselves, working individually or in groups. Students should not have another person/entity do the writing of any substantive portion of an assignment for them, which includes hiring a person or a company to write assignments and using artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT.  

    • AI is allowed with attribution: Use of AI tools, including ChatGPT, is permitted in this course for students who wish to use them. To adhere to our scholarly values, students must cite any AI-generated material that informed their work (this includes in-text citations and/or use of quotations, and in your reference list). Using an AI tool to generate content without proper attribution qualifies as academic dishonesty.  

    • AI is encouraged with certain tasks and with attribution: You can choose to use AI tools to help brainstorm assignments or projects or to revise existing work you have written. When you submit your assignment, I expect you to clearly attribute what text was generated by the AI tool (e.g., AI-generated text appears in a different colored font, quoted directly in the text, or use an in-text parenthetical citation). 

  • Communicate your perspective about AI use. In addition to syllabus statements, consider talking with your students about AI tools like ChatGPT.  
    • Different levels of familiarity: As an emerging technology, students will have differing levels of familiarity with these tools. For instance, while ChatGPT can write a grammatically correct paper or appear to solve a math problem, it may be unreliable and limited in scope. Discuss with students the uses and limitations of AI tools more broadly in addition to your perspective on their use in your class. 

    • Connect to critical thinking skills: AI tools have many implications beyond the classroom. Consider talking with students about how to be engaged consumers of AI content (e.g., how to identify trusted sources, reading critically, privacy concerns).  

  • Adapt assessments. AI tools are emerging and it can be incredibly difficult to make any assessment completely free from AI interference. Beyond a syllabus statement, you may also consider adapting your assessments to help reduce the usefulness of AI products. However before revising any assignment, it’s helpful to reflect on what exactly you want students to get out of the experience and share your expectations with your students. Is it just the end product, or does the process of creating the product play a significant role? 
    • Create assessments that allow students to develop ideas over time. Depending on your class size, consider scaffolding assessments to be completed in small components (e.g., proposal, annotated bibliography, outline, first draft, revised drafts). 

    • Ask students to connect their writing to specific course materials or current events. Students can draw from the course textbook, additional readings on Moodle or Blackboard, and even class discussion boards or in-class discussions.  

    • Incorporate personal experiences and reflections. Provide students with opportunities to connect what they are learning to their own lives and experiences—stories unique to each individual. 

    • Incorporate Multimedia Assessments. Consider developing or adapting assessments to include multimedia submissions (e.g., audio or video components). VoiceThread is a UMass Amherst supported tool that allows students to leave audio, visual, and video content.  Also, consider UMass-supported social annotation tools like Perusall or Google Docs for students to use when responding to assigned readings or other materials.  

    • Use class time. Ask students to complete writing assignments during class time (e.g. complete reading reflections at the beginning of class, or use exit tickets). Asking students to organize their ideas by writing during class may also support student engagement in other class activities such as discussions and group work.  



Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology. (2023). Artificial Intelligence Tools and Teaching. Iowa University. 

Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (2023). Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools. Georgetown University. 

Office for Faculty Excellence (2023). Practical Responses to ChatGPT. Montclair State University.