Message to the WSU teaching community
Thinking about pedagogy in an era of rapid development of technologies, like OpenAI’s GPT-2, GPT-3, GPT-4 (Chat GPT), Google’s Bard, and the rapid advancement of new assistive technologies, like Phind, Taskade, or LiterallyAnthing is both exhilarating and a bit unnerving. The possibility for enhancing pedagogy via these technologies is vast and will enable customized solutions. In what has been a relatively brief period, a range of technologies have emerged to assist in developing presentations with Slidesai, summarizing material with PDFGPT, streamlining text to speech with murf.ai, and generating and troubleshooting code with Github’s Copilot and Replit’s Ghostwriter. These are but a small sampling of what is available, and it seems almost weekly there are new solutions and updates.
In thinking about how best to introduce the topic of pedagogy in the era of these generative AI technologies, know that Washington State University is committed to supporting faculty and students. The suggestions provided are grounded in a philosophy of clarity, consistency, and conciseness and commitment to building a community of support.
Preparing to teach
Faculty have autonomy over how they design their courses, including how they choose to approach the use of generative AI in their courses. Yet the dynamic nature of AI-powered tools poses a unique challenge: their continuous evolution makes it complex to discern AI-generated student submissions. In response, we offer a collection of strategies that empower instructors to navigate this evolving landscape, fostering an environment where students’ growth takes center stage. These approaches help educators effectively communicate, set expectations, and craft assignments that not only bolster students’ motivation but also cultivate their originality and skills.
- Clear Expectations: Establish a clear policy within your course regarding the utilization of AI-generated text, such as ChatGPT. Articulate this policy through your syllabus or assignment prompts. Transparently communicate the protocol you’ll follow if AI-generated work is identified. Be mindful that students will be navigating a range of messaging from their other instructors that can cause confusion about what is, and is not, allowable in different situations. Course policies can differ greatly, and students can be confused because what is allowed in one course is against policy in another course. Communicate expectations clearly and often. Inflexible policies can increase the likelihood of academic dishonesty. If a syllabus does not allow for late work, extensions, or other flexibility, students in a bind may make the decision to engage in academic dishonesty.
- Holistic Learning: Encourage a broader perspective on learning’s significance. Engage students in conversations about the enduring relevance of the course content, even in contexts beyond their immediate career plans. Highlight how the skills they acquire today can seamlessly transition to unforeseen career paths.
- Embracing Challenges: Foster a culture where intellectual challenges are celebrated as intrinsic to the learning journey. Emphasize that genuine learning transpires beyond familiar territory. Using AI tools for shortcuts hinders true growth – a missed opportunity to become astute thinkers and adept writers.
- Process-Driven Assessment: Transform assessment dynamics by de-emphasizing high-stakes evaluations. Leverage formative assessments with lower stakes to underscore the gradual learning process. Demonstrating the value of learning over time discourages shortcuts. Interrogate your assignments (especially high-stakes assignments) and policies. Explain to students why the assignment is valuable and contributes to their learning. Help students make connections between the assignment and the world outside of the classroom.
- Synthesis of Knowledge: Design assignments that demand the synthesis of diverse elements: course content, class discussions, and personal experiences. This intricate blend challenges AI-based tools’ ability to connect the dots between multifaceted sources of knowledge.
- Teaching Through AI: Explore the potential of AI-based tools in education. Delve into how these tools can enhance students’ learning experiences and equip them to navigate AI thoughtfully in their personal and professional spheres. Encourage critical thinking about digital literacy, information credibility, and effective communication.
For those of you interested in contributing to a larger effort on the topic of AI and pedagogy, you can contribute to http://sentientsyllabus.org/.