Librarians have been helping both faculty and students cope with the challenges, temptations, and opportunities related to plagiarism for decades. In many ways, teaching during the age of AI and ChatGPT is simply an extension of those concerns, albeit packaged in new ways. The following tips were created by Coordinator of Library Instruction, Jennifer Lau-Bond, based on her experience in instructional design and helping faculty create effective research assignments. We hope they help you consider possibilities.
If you'd like to discuss further, we offer consultations with individual faculty or groups to discuss assignments and courses. Reach out to Jennifer or the liaison in your area to set up a conversation.
- Have explicit conversations about AI and how it works, what it can and can’t do, and what you expect from students. Students need to grapple with these questions, because they’ll face real-world choices about AI outside of school, too.
- Try to get a result for your assignment from ChatGPT. How did you have to phrase your request? What kind of results did you get? What’s missing? How can you change your assignment prompt, your grading rubric, or your lessons to make ChatGPT less useful for the students?
- Do an activity (individual or in groups) where students use ChatGPT and analyze the results to identify what it gets right, what’s missing, etc. (Keep in mind, there are many unanswered questions about privacy, ethics, and regulation you may want to consider before having students use the tool.)
- Place an emphasis on incorporating sources into writing (either outside sources or your primary texts). Currently, ChatGPT struggles to integrate sources effectively, although as the technology improves this may not remain the case.
- Have students turn in work along the way instead of just a final project. Require steps such as a topic proposal, a research question, an annotated bibliography, multiple drafts, etc. This helps you check that students are doing their own work, gives you a chance to offer feedback, and helps students spread out the work of a big project.
- Include self-reflection assignments, where students explain their thinking process and/or steps. This could take the form of a post-assignment reflection paper, a weekly progress journal, a research log, etc. This encourages metacognition, helps you verify student work, and is a type of writing ChatGPT can't really replicate.
- Focus on current events. Right now, ChatGPT has "limited knowledge of world and events after 2021" (from "ChatGPT FAQ"). Undoubtedly this will change eventually, but for now current events are an excellent way to discourage the use of ChatGPT specifically.
- Use time in class to work on assignments, either to write an in-class essay or simply to work on a part of a larger project. Circulate and check out student progress, answer questions, offer guidance, etc. This way you can see student work taking shape.
- Alter your grading rubric to prioritize skills that are harder for an AI to achieve, such as creativity/originality, connecting ideas to other class work, comprehensiveness, integrating sources effectively, etc.
- Get students to respond to something from class. For instance, require an essay to respond to an in-class discussion (consider providing an alternative for students unable to attend class), a YouTube video watched as homework, an on-campus speaker event, etc. Ask students to include specific details and engage critically with the event in a way an AI/bot can't replicate.
- Incorporate more group work. Obviously, this can’t prevent a group from using a bot to write an essay, but accountability to a team can cut down on the chances of it happening.
- Go beyond text when you can. Visual displays, posters, models, demonstrations, performances, infographics, debates, videos, portfolios, etc. are engaging ways to demonstrate learning as well as discourage the use of AI. (Keep in mind, if text is involved somehow, ChatGPT can probably still write it. For example, it understands prompts like “write a play about…” or “write a podcast script about…”.)
- Follow up on sources students cite. Track down the sources and see if they exist, if they’re properly represented, if quotations are accurate, etc. (ChatGPT often lists sources that are irrelevant or ones that don’t even exist.) You can even require students to submit copies of their sources with their work.
See "10 Ideas for Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism" from the Harper Academy Newsletter for more details.