Communicating with students about generative AI

Given the rapid growth in availability of generative AI tools, and different approaches instructors may take to them, it is helpful to talk with students about these tools, their benefits and drawbacks, whether students can use them for course activities or assignments, and why/why not. Discuss with students how such tools may be helpful or harmful for their learning and for achieving the learning goals of the course.

Another reason to discuss these tools is that there may be mixed views amongst students regarding the acceptable use of AI, with some confusion on whether and how using such tools would be considered academic dishonesty, some refusing to do so due to their own academic standards, and others being concerned that they may potentially receive a lower grade compared to their peers who used AI.

Thus, it is important to include specific guidelines, such as on syllabi, to indicate whether/how AI tools can be used in activities or assignments. If applicable, let students know how they should  attribute the use of such tools in their submitted work.

Examples

Greg Werker: COMM 443 and 449

Policy on Syllabus

Note on submitting AI-generated text in individual or group or memos: See Canvas for guidance on using ChatGPT or other such services. This topic is rapidly evolving and therefore can’t effectively be codified in the syllabus.

Policy for this class (posted to Canvas) – updated January 6, 2023

If you use ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to get ideas and/or partial answers for an assignment and/or to generate any text for a draft or final version of any part of an assignment, you must declare that you have used it, with a couple sentences describing the extent to which it was used, and you must save any generated text from this tool in case it is requested.

You will not be penalized for using this tool, but a TA or the instructor may ask you to provide the generated text in order to help with grading decisions. In this case, your (or your group’s) original contributions will be evaluated.

Failure to fully declare the use of this tool will be considered “unauthorized”. (See 3.b below)

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Rationale

Recently ChatGPT has become widely available, making it easy to generate text-based answers to pretty much any question. The quality of those answers varies considerably, depending on many factors. Using ChatGPT without the permission of the instructor is considered Academic Misconduct as per UBC’s policy (3. Academic Misconduct by UBC Students):

  • Section 3.1. “any conduct by which a student gains or attempts to gain an unfair academic advantage or benefit”
  • Section 3.b. “use or facilitation of unauthorized means to complete an examination or coursework”
  • Section 3.e. “committing plagiarism, namely submitting or presenting the work of another person as one’s own, without appropriate referencing.”

One might argue that it isn’t an “unfair academic advantage or benefit” if it is available to everyone, but the same argument could be made about most types of cheating, so I think it is pretty easy to reject. One might also argue that an AI tool is not a “person”, though the AI is definitely the work of people, so at least indirectly what it produces is the work of someone(s) other than you.

Regardless of the above UBC policy and any hairsplitting arguments one might concoct, in order to make things crystal clear, I have provided you with the policy for this class. A breach of this policy will be considered misconduct.

Note: If I update this policy (as the situation evolves), I will inform the class by Canvas announcement/email.

Dongwook Yoon: CPSC 344

344 Policy on the Use of AI Content Generators for the Coursework (ver 1.1, Jan 18, 2023)

Dear CPSC 344 students,

I am writing to inform you that the use of AI-based content generation tools, or AI tools, is permitted for assignments and project work in CPSC 344. However, it is not allowed during midterm exams and the final. Additionally, students are required to disclose any use of AI tools for each assignment. Failure to follow this policy will be considered a violation of UBC’s academic policy.

I view AI tools as a powerful resource that you can learn to embrace.

The goal is to develop your resilience to automation, as these tools will become increasingly prevalent in the future. By incorporating these tools into your work process, you will be able to focus on skills that will remain relevant despite the rise of automation. Furthermore, I believe that these tools can be beneficial for ESL students and those who have been disadvantaged, allowing them to express their ideas in a more articulate and efficient manner.

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We are aware that there are risks involved in allowing the use of AI tools in your assignment deliverables.

Therefore, we ask that you read this carefully and use the tools responsibly.

Firstly, it is important to note that AI tools are susceptible to errors and may incorporate discriminatory ideas in their output. As a student, it is your responsibility to ensure the quality and appropriateness of the work you submit in this course.

Secondly, please be mindful of the data you provide to these systems, as your assignments contain private information, not just your own but also that of others. For example, you should never enter the names of your study participants into ChatGPT.

Thirdly, there is a risk of inadvertently plagiarizing when using these tools. Many AI chatbots and image generators create content based on existing bodies of work without proper citation. Our plagiarism policy will apply to all assignment submissions, and “AI did it!” will not excuse any plagiarism. To prevent this, you can consider using more responsible tools that cite their data sources, such as Perplexity AI.

Lastly, be aware of the dangers of becoming overly dependent on these tools. While they can be incredibly useful, relying on them too much can diminish your own critical thinking and writing skills.

For every assignment submission, you are required to complete a form called the “AI use disclosure.”

Submitting this disclosure will help us understand and mitigate the risks associated with the use of AI tools in the course. The form will ask about your use of AI tools for the assignment and the extent to which you used them. You will be asked to submit the disclosure via Canvas.

If you do not wish to use these tools, that is a valid decision.

The use of AI tools in education can be messy and unpredictable due to the risks mentioned earlier. Some students may have moral confusion or concerns about the uncertainty associated with using AI tools in their coursework. If you do not wish to use them, that is a valid decision. This policy aims to anticipate and mitigate any potential harms associated with AI tool usage, rather than promoting their use.

We will not mark you down for the use or non-use of AI tools.

Grading will be done based on the rubric on an absolute scale, so students who do not use AI tools will not be at a disadvantage. Also, the use of AI tools will not negatively impact your grade. The instructor will be the only one with access to the submitted AI use disclosures, and TAs will handle the majority of grading.

Please note that the policy about the use of AI tools in CPSC 344 is up for change as the term progresses.

Best,
Dongwook Yoon
The instructor of CPSC 344 in 2023 Spring.
Computer Science
UBC, Vancouver