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Generative AI & Your Teaching

The evolution of generative artificial intelligence, or AI, raises questions about how we ask students to think, what skills they will need, and which assignments and course policies can best support your teaching.

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CETLI staff are available for individual consultations for instructors and can host a workshop for your program or department to facilitate conversations about this technology. Contact CETLI to learn more. 


What is Generative AI?

Generative AI creates text, images, computer code, and more in response to user prompts. These tools can adapt their responses based on user feedback in a conversational style. AI can enhance teaching and learning through its capacity to analyze and quickly respond to large amounts of data. However, AI has limitations, such as producing inaccurate or biased responses. Each user’s human judgment plays a large role in their ability to use generative AI effectively.


Determining Where (or if) AI Fits Into Your Teaching

You may be eager to incorporate AI into your teaching as a way to help students gain knowledge, practice skills, or develop proficiency related to working with AI. Alternatively, you may find that it gets in the way of what you want your students to learn. Whatever you choose, be sure to design assignments and communicate your policies to students according to the ways you expect students to use or not use AI. This decision is dependent on your course goals and is worth reexamining regularly as a part of your teaching practice. To guide your decisions, consider:

  • What do I want my students to learn? Reflect on your primary course goals, the most vital takeaways from the course, and the types of thinking students need to do to accomplish them. These goals should guide your choices surrounding AI use in your course.
  • What type of work is essential to achieving the learning goals? For example, the idea-generation phase of a project may sometimes be more critical than the final written product, while at other times, crafting polished academic or discipline-specific writing is fundamental. Design your assignments to emphasize vital knowledge and skill development.
  • How might AI support or detract from students’ engagement in your course? AI has countless applications, such as serving as a dialogue partner to engage with course material, but certain uses may impede vital community-building and human interaction. Develop your AI policy around the knowledge and skills students should build without AI assistance.


Penn AI Guidance and Policies

Generative AI raises concerns related to privacy, intellectual property, academic integrity, and equity. Continuous improvements to generative AI’s capabilities and changes in the way these tools are regulated will impact these policies and uses of the tools.

Penn’s Office of Privacy notes that instructors are responsible for protecting students’ privacy using AI. It also mandates the following AI use restrictions for the protection of student data:

  • Do not enter any information that could identify a student. This includes names, ID numbers, or email addresses, as well as detailed descriptions of student work or engagement in class that could be identifiable to others.
  • Do not enter student work (e.g., papers, projects) into an AI tool without the student’s permission, even if it is anonymized. This work is part of the student’s confidential academic record.
  • Do not require students to enter their own work into an AI tool or use AI in assignments. You may present this as an option for students, but they must consent and cannot be penalized for opting out.

Individual instructors determine their own policies related to generative AI and academic integrity. If you have questions or concerns about AI and academic integrity policy, visit our Course Policies & Communication page for more information. For questions about a potential academic integrity violation, contact the Center for Community Standards & Accountability (CSA).

Not all generative AI models are equally strong, and some of the most powerful tools require paid subscriptions. If you ask students to use AI in your course, consider ways to ensure that all students have access to the same tools.

Information Systems and Computing (ISC) has additional guidance on AI use for members of the Penn community: