Published on Feb. 2, 2023
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an artificial intelligence text generator which gathers information from online sources like textbooks, websites, and social media to respond to human questions. It can produce a variety of texts including short essays and computer code based on user prompts. ChatGPT-3 mimics natural writing styles and learns from extended questioning by the user.
- Watch this video, ChatGPT explained in 5 minutes via Youtube which includes examples of what ChatGPT can and cannot do.
Recommendations for teaching writing
As ChatGPT and other AI writing tools evolve, a focus on the connection between writing and learning becomes even more crucial. To help combat misuse, CWP encourages instructors to highlight the ways that writing is a vehicle for learning content to establish a culture of academic integrity that prioritizes critical thinking. ChatGPT and other AI writing programs produce essay frames, but they do not include the discipline-specific elements of writing–i.e., voice, appropriate evidence and citation, and deep analysis–which make WI courses powerful learning experiences.
Practically, instructors can take ChatGPT into consideration by:
- Designing assignments that involve producing and analyzing AI-generated writing to examine the strengths and weaknesses it displays
- Engaging students in the process of writing by requiring students to submit steps of the essay generation process (e.g., proposal, outline, essay introduction, source summary/comment on use) and receive feedback on those steps to build the complete draft
- Increasing use of in-class writing–both informal writing for learning and formal writing for assessment
- Requiring students to include specific evidence (ex: course readings, peer-reviewed articles, or a specific set of sources provided to students) in their writing assignments.
- Expanding the genres and modes of assigned student writing. Consider asking students to produce a multimodal or multimedia text (ex: podcast, infographic, map, animation)
These resources contain other useful considerations and suggestions for instructors adapting writing assignments:
- AI Text Generators and Teaching Writing: Starting Points for Inquiry (WAC Clearinghouse, Colorado State) – A crowdsource document of all things ChatGPT from writing program administrators across the world.
- Tea for Teaching Podcast: Chat GPT (Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, State University of New York at Oswego) -“Since its release in November 2022, ChatGPT has been the focus of a great deal of discussion and concern in higher ed. In this episode, Robert Cummings and Marc Watkins join us to discuss how to prepare students for a future in which AI tools will become increasingly prevalent in their lives.”
- ChatGPT Advice Academics Can Use Now (Inside Higher Ed) – “Resist asking conservative questions such as, ‘How can we minimize negative impacts of AI tools in writing courses?’ Instead, go big. How do these tools allow us to achieve our intended outcomes differently and better? How can they promote equity and access? Better thinking and argumentation? How does learning take place in ways we haven’t experienced before?”
- ChatGPT and the AI Writing Arms Race (Powernotes) – “If AI detection software is destined to lose the arms race to cheaters, what then becomes of the college essay? The college essay can live on, but it requires a shift from focusing on examining the essay’s content for clues as to its authenticity.” Join Mizzou Libraries and CWP for a functional PowerNotes training session on January 31 at 12 pm or February 15 at 1 pm.
ChatGPT Information Sessions & Workshops
Please join the Campus Writing Program and Teaching for Learning Center for the following sessions to learn more about ChatGPT and the college classroom.
- Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 – ChatGPT Session 1: AI/ChatGPT: What is it? How does it work? (Recording link: https://youtu.be/vsOI3RMXqFY)
- Monday, Feb 6, 2023 – ChatGPT Session 2: “Prompt Engineers” Across the Disciplines – Get in the Sandbox.
- Thursday, Feb 9, 2023 – ChatGPT Session 3: How to Develop and Implement Meaningful Writing Assignments.
Register for these sessions on the Teaching for Learning Center Gateway by clicking on the link for the session(s) you are interested in attending.
Reach out to the Campus Writing Program at https://cwp.missouri.edu/contact and we’d be happy to sit down with you and chat about what ChatGPT means for your classroom.