Introduction to Teaching with Generative Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence generators use technology to draw information from various sources and create text or image-based outputs like those created by humans. ChatGPT, is one example of this technology, as are GPT4, Copilot, and Bard. Recent developments and dissemination of AI tools have led to both concerns and enthusiasm about possible uses among academics. ChatGPT is probably the best-known tool, and the most have been written about it.

According to a document published by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, “ChatGPT is a generative AI tool, specifically a so-called Large Language Model (LLM), which has been trained to detect patterns in language samples, and to build a predictive model from this input. This model allows it to generate new content based on a prompt provided by users interacting with it.” How do I teach in a world with Generative AI?

Similarly, according to the University of California/Santa Cruz Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, “ChatGPT is a tool that uses artificial intelligence and language models to generate conversational or more formal written text. It works by analyzing a large dataset of text and learning the patterns and relationships between words and phrases. When given a prompt or a starting point, ChatGPT can generate text that is similar to text it has seen before.” Let’s Talk About ChatGPT

More specifically, “Text-based Generative AI platforms, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, make it possible to quickly acquire information and generate original text in a variety of formats: essays, research papers, poems, outlines, short answers to exam questions, and even mathematical proofs and computer code.” Williams College Rice Center for Teaching

Managing the Use of Generative AI

Two points have been made repeatedly about using Generative AI in teaching. The first is that instructors must become familiar with the various tools, which entails not only learning about the different platforms, but also trying them out and finding out what they can do. For example, Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning recommends that the best way to learn about AI tools is to try them by signing up for accounts on several platforms and using them to do tasks you might do as an instructor. They suggested a few prompts to try:

  • “Ask the program to write a response to one of the assignments from your class.
  • Prompt the tool for help with a task you’re working on like writing an email or choosing the next step toward completing a project.
  • Choose an assignment one of your students has submitted to your class and prompt the AI tool to produce a response that is as close as possible to the student’s, entering follow-up prompts as necessary to bring the text closer to the student’s.
  • Ask the tool to teach you about a subject and then quiz you at the end.”

Northwestern University listed additional examples of possible requests of Chat GPT: (a) synthesize text from a large document; (b) generate a very specific writing sample; (c) translate something; and (d) respond to a writing prompt in a specific style.

A second frequently made point is that instructors should discuss with students the use of Generative AI in a course. They should both seek their input in developing policies and be clear and transparent with them about their expectations. This clarity and transparency apply not only to policies about Generative AI use but also to the reasons the course and each of the assignments are structured as they are. Students should know what skills an instructor wants them to learn as well as what knowledge they will gain by completing assignments. This means making sure that students understand the learning objectives on which their assignments and learning activities are based, so they can better evaluate whether using a Generative AI tool would get interfere with or assist them in attaining these objectives.

It is also helpful to ask students to reflect on how an assignment connects to their personal or professional goals or values. Students can be asked about their experiences using generative AI tools – what do they know about them? How have they used them? What do they think about them? Do they think there should limits on student use of generative AI in this course? If so, what should they be? The goal of these discussions is to build students’ investment in their learning and increase their motivation to use Generative AI appropriately.


University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence Adapting your course to artificial intelligence
University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence An instructor guide to easing into generative AI
Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation Generative AI Tools FAQ
Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation Generative Artificial Intelligence
University of California/Los Angeles Center for Advancement of Teaching Guidance for the Use of Generative AI
University of California/Irvine Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation Generative AI for Teaching and Learning
Northwestern University Generative Artificial Intelligence at Northwestern
University of Illinois/Champagne-Urbana Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning Generative Artificial Intelligence
Dartmouth University Center for the Advancement of Learning How do I teach in a world with Generative AI?, Dartmouth University Center for the Advancement of Learning and Guidance for Dartmouth Faculty on Teaching with Generative AI
University of California/Santa Cruz Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning ChatGPT
Williams College Rice Center for Teaching Managing the Use of Generative AI
Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning AI Guidance
University of Maryland Teaching & Learning Transformation Center Artificial Intelligence
Barnard College Center for Engaged Pedagogy Generative AI & the College Classroom
University of Virginia Center for Teaching Excellence Generative AI in Teaching and Learning
Mollick, E., and Mollick, L. (2023) Wharton Interactive Crash Course: Practical AI for Instructors and Students
Darby, F. (2023) Why You Should Rethink Your Resistance to ChatGPT

Additional Resources

Mollick, E. and Mollick, L. Practical AI for Teachers and Students=
Mollick, E. (2023) One Useful Thing blog
University of Michigan Generative Artificial Intelligence AI Tools
University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill Provost’s AI Committee Student Guide to Using Generative AI Appropriately