Chat GPT

By Annette Finley-Croswhite

For many in higher education, new technologies involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT in particular have raised concerns about misuse, abuse, and plagiarism. Even so, some instructors have embraced the new technology with excitement. At the Center for Faculty Development, we’ve been exploring how ChatGPT and DALL●E 2 can be used as effective learning tools.

Through our research of many recently published articles on the use of AI in the classroom and discussions with colleagues at ODU and elsewhere, we have identified a number of faculty at various institutions who are embracing AI in the classroom. One history professor, for example, believes that innovations in AI will reduce the time it takes to conduct basic historical research. The professor asked students to use ChatGPT to create a series of summaries about several treaties made between the US Government and Indigenous peoples in the 19th century. Students accessed the basic information quickly and thus moved more swiftly into analysis of the treaties having already digested the key facts.

An English lecturer produced several AI generated essays and then asked students to analyze them for style, voice, tone, and diction. The class then explored what was missing from the essays in terms of rhetorical structure and content.

A math professor asked students to use AI to solve difficult “big math” problems and then as a group they explored the steps the AI chose to solve the problems.

An art professor asked students to answer the following prompt: What is unique about Rembrandt’s works? The professor then showed the students how to use the AI tools to create images in Rembrandt’s style. This strategy helped the students to answer the prompt more quickly.

A computer science faculty member developed an AI tool to grade and provide feedback on coding assignments. It automated and scaled a tedious and time-consuming task, providing high-quality and timely feedback to thousands of students taking the course around the world. Students were highly satisfied with the feedback and couldn't tell the difference between automated and human feedback.

Other suggestions are not disciplinary-specific. For example, many instructors use “think, pair, share” as an active learning strategy in the classroom to get students talking and collaborating on low-stakes assignments. A new model suggested is think-pair-ChatGPT-pair-share. In other words, after students share an idea with classmates, they also explore what ChatGPT has to say about the topic and then discuss ChatGPT’s response.

We live in a world where Fake News is a major problem, and more and more people are struggling to distinguish factual information from propaganda. Some AI generated material may be incorrect. For example, according to ChatGPT, I’m a professor of Soviet history. I’m not, and I don’t speak Russian! As such, crafting AI assignments and having students work to determine what AI-generated material is correct and what is incorrect can teach basic skills about critical evaluation and incomplete or inaccurate information.

There is a long history of technology revolutionizing educational practice. One can simply point to the invention of the Printing Press around 1453 and the access it gave the world to inexpensive books as an example. Thereafter teachers no longer needed to read aloud to their students from the one book in the classroom because students could buy their own inexpensive copies. In so many ways, ChatGPT is another such technology that is causing faculty to explore different methods of teaching, in this case, with AI. Undoubtedly there will be an explosion of research tied to AI-pedagogy within the Scholarship on Teaching and Learning (SoTL). As we move away from straightforward prompts and standardized assignments, the use of AI in general may lead faculty to become more inventive in their own pedagogical strategies. Jenna Morton-Aiken, Senior Associate Director for Writing and English Language Support at Brown University notes, “The good news embedded in all this uncertainty is that good teaching practices (such as those that support critical thinking, knowledge acquisition, and skill proficiency) already position us to productively engage with ChatGPT.”

At the Center for Faculty Development, we’d like to learn more about how you are using AI in your courses. If you have time, please take the survey to tell us more about your own strategies and course assignments using AI.