AI is a hot topic! Trends show that the use and discussion of AI in higher education has skyrocketed in the last five years (Chu et al., 2022), but with the introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022, the dialogue has just exploded. AI is not new to higher education, however; from earlier uses in detecting plagiarism and exam integrity to online discussion boards, course creation and more, AI has been around in the background for several years.
What is somewhat new is the emerging dynamic discussion on how AI (and more specifically chatbots like ChatGPT) is being used in the college classroom to enhance teaching and learning. Some questions at the forefront for instructors include:
- How does AI influence the teaching practice and how does it apply to the college’s Teaching Excellence Framework?
- How are students using ChatGPT to complete their assignments?
- And then, perhaps even more importantly, if AI is used by students, how can instructors adapt assessment to reflect this usage?
In the classroom, assessment can show up in many forms, including writing assignments, multiple-choice quizzes, presentations, and more, but days are long gone when a standardized pen-and-paper test is the norm. ChatGPT could be the chance to push assessment in the college classroom even further, potentially offering opportunities for creativity, critical thinking, and building trust (Fortane, 2023).
We don’t have all the answers yet, but some Lethbridge College instructors are embracing the use of AI in student work and rethinking traditional assessment methods to accommodate it. Exercise Science instructor Simon Schaerz finds ChatGPT can be useful for students to process already existing academic work, to help bridge gaps in understanding or readability, and to use as a study helper or even as an editing tool. He permits students in some of his courses to use ChatGPT as a tool to help them understand peer-reviewed research, ultimately informing their practice.
However, it is important students learn how to use the technology properly—and ethically. There can be a big difference (and yet a fine line) between synthesizing, rewriting, and editing an assignment in terms of ethical use. In terms of grading student work, Simon stresses the use of what he calls “audit trails” for students who use ChatGPT as a learning tool. Emphasizing transparency, and as an alternative to policing students, he requires that students submit “transcripts” or “audit trails” of the prompts they’ve input into ChatGPT to help them with their assignments. He can then follow the trail to ensure the student is using the technology properly and follow up on suspicious prompting if needed.
Simon’s assessment method ties in with his grading system as well. The audit trails are included in the rubric along with assessment questions about whether the student has used AI. “It is by no means perfect,” Simon says, “but it does get the student thinking about how to use it and what they need to do.”
For instructors aiming for the Engaged and Leading assessment levels in the Teaching Excellence Framework, adapting assessment strategies to reflect the realities of AI tools that students may be using is key. These strategies should be clearly communicated to students in an open discussion about the various generative AI apps, how they should (and should not) be used, how students will be graded, and how using AI tools intersects with the college’s academic integrity policies.
For that extra step, instructors exploring AI teaching and learning tools, like ChatGPT, might think about collaborating with colleagues to share their experiences—both good and bad. This is critical to developing updated, relevant and more appropriate assessment strategies to match how instructors and students are using AI.
To learn more about generative AI tools like ChatGPT and suggestions for assignment and assessment redesign, or to share your experiences, check out CTLI’s Emerging AI webpage.
Chu, H., Tu, Y., & Yang, K. (2022). Roles and research trends of artificial intelligence in higher education: A systematic review of the top 50 most-cited articles. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 22–42. https://ajet.org.au/index.php/AJET/article/view/7526/1906
Fourtané, S. (2023, February 28). ChatGPT: Reimagining Assessment in Higher Education. Fierce Education. Retrieved June 19, 2023, from https://www.fierceeducation.com/technology/chatgpt-reimagining-assessment-higher-education
Instructor, General Studies