AI in teaching and learning | Digital Learning Office

The recent emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as the open AI chatbot called ChatGPT, has many instructors wondering how access to such a tool can affect student work. The Office of Digital Learning has put together the following information to help instructors understand the tool and how it can be used, as well as some ideas for adjusting assignments and activities to discourage students from submitting AI output as their own work.

ChatGPT: What is it?

ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot that has been trained to interact with users in a conversational, dialog-based format. Users can ask ChatGPT complex questions and the AI ​​will provide long, human-quality answers in a matter of seconds. You can learn more about the tool and try it yourself here.

What can you do?

Some of the things that ChatGPT can do include the following:

  • Answer questions posed in conversational English.
  • Write short essays (up to 700 words)
  • Answer college-level math questions, including showing the work done to arrive at an answer
  • write computer code
  • Write questions, titles and descriptions.
  • Summarize or paraphrase the text provided

What are your limitations?

Not even AI can do it all. Some of the currently recognized limitations of ChatGPT include:

  • Some answers sound plausible, but may be wrong or inaccurate.
  • Can be excessively detailed and reuses some phrases.
  • If the question asked is not clear, ChatGPT can simply guess what the user meant and provide an answer, instead of trying to clarify the question.
  • ChatGPT (currently) only has access to information up to 2021.
  • It has a limited capacity; when too many people are using the tool at once, you may have to wait.
  • You may provide answers that are biased against certain groups (eg, women).
  • You cannot formulate a response to video, images, audio, etc.
  • You cannot create video, images, audio, etc. in your output/response to questions.
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Students and ChatGPT

The question on many instructors’ minds is: How can I make sure my students aren’t delivering AI-generated content in my class? Also remember that, like any other form of cheating, you most likely cannot combat student use of such a tool. However, we do provide some approaches you can take to try to discourage inappropriate use of ChatGPT by students and to rethink how to creatively incorporate this new technology into your course.

available tools

Respondus Blocking Browser: All college courses can use Respondus LockDown Browser for assignments, quizzes, and tests via WebCampus. When students take a test using the LockDown Browser, they cannot copy, access other programs/applications (such as a browser with ChatGPT), or take screenshots.

Turnitin: The Turnitin Originality tool can supposedly detect some AI-assisted writing; however, not much information has been provided about this ability. Turnitin plans to improve AI detection in 2023.

External detection tools: The following tools are new on the scene and are not supported by the Digital Learning Office.

Review of tasks and activities.

Another option would be to reimagine your course or assignments to make using ChatGPT difficult or useless.

Review the types of questions you ask

  • Current Events: Ask questions about very recent events. ChatGPT is only based on information from 2021 and before.
  • Local or Class-Specific Concepts: Ask students to reflect on a specific lecture or search speaker, or a campus location or event.
  • Questions about process or rationale: ChatGPT cannot easily explain its rationale. Questions like “Which solution to Problem X is most appropriate and why?” Ask students to explain their reasoning behind the answer.
  • Source Integration: Ask students to include textual evidence from applicable readings or sources, and explain how the citations they use support their argument. Direct them to the University Writing & Speaking Center’s page on integrating Quote for help.
  • Image, video or audio analysis: ChatGPT does not accept multimodal input (as of January 2023), so you will not be able to analyze anything other than written text.
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Review task types and sequences

  • Scaffolding assignments for students to build on previous work as they progress through the semester. Learn more about University of Michigan Sequencing and Scaffolding Assignments page.
  • Employ metacognitive reflection on the writing process, asking students why they chose the topic they chose, why they made the choices they did, what was difficult or easy in the writing process, what they would do differently if they started the task over , etc.
  • Include lectures (instructor-student or small group) where students have an opportunity to discuss their work and demonstrate their understanding while getting valuable feedback from you and/or their peers.
  • Assign presentations in which students explain their work and then answer proactive questions from their peers and the instructor.

Put ChatGPT to work for you!

Another option might be to consider how you can make ChatGPT work for you and your students in your class. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, and giving your students the opportunity to use it responsibly can prepare them for a future where AI may be ubiquitous.

  • Demonstrate asking ChatGPT for additional help with difficult topics or to provide additional examples of concepts.
  • Direct students to ask ChatGPT a question on a topic, then correct the output provided or provide feedback on how well ChatGPT responded to the question.
  • Use ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool or initial research assistant to help students get started on an important task.
  • Demonstrate providing ChatGPT with a piece of writing and asking for suggestions for improvement (bonus tip: have students submit ChatGPT suggestions and reflect on why they took or didn’t take the suggestions provided in their reviews).
  • Ask students to create their own response to a given message and have them submit the same question to ChatGPT; then compare and contrast the two answers.
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Resources consulted

Cannity, D. (2022, December 28). GPT CHAT. [Online forum post]. Educause educational technologies.

Center for Teaching and Learning of the American University of Armenia. (2022). ChatGPT (AI) in education: an overview.

Wu, G. (2022, December 22). 5 Big Problems with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Use.

additional resources

Alexander, B. (2022, December 15). Resources for exploring ChatGPT and higher education. Bryan Alexander.

Trust, T. (n.d.) ChatGPT and Education. Google Docs.

Academic and Collaborative Technologies from the University of Toronto. (2022, January 9). AI readings.

Watkins, R. (2022, December 18). Update your course syllabus for ChatGPT. Medium.