What Detroit Mercy Faculty Need to Know about ChatGPT

In the last few months, numerous articles and media discussions have speculated on the societal effects of artificial intelligence. The release and rising popularity of ChatGPT-3, an AI tool that can be tasked with writing essays and answering homework questions, has put educators on alert, but the use of AI in higher education is not a new phenomenon. Student services experts, for example, have employed AI technologies to improve retention and enrollment for several years. Nietzel (2022) reports college leaders have used AI to “address some of their largest and most persistent challenges – including such bottom-line issues as increasing enrollment, improving student retention, and allocating financial aid.” While campus leadership can use AI for large-scale projects, such technologies have been employed at the course level for a variety of tasks from digitizing workflows to creating calendar items. 

So, why focus on Chat-GPT? In long form, ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is a chatbot created by OpenAI (a non-profit AI research company) in 2022.  According to OpenAI, ChatGPT has been trained to interact with users in a “conversational way.”  Per the descriptions on the OpenAI website, “The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.” The concern is that students have already begun to use the technology to create essays and other written assignments (constituting academic dishonesty) and that students will leverage the technology more frequently as knowledge of it becomes more widespread.

One of the best ways for educators to understand ChatGPT is to explore its capabilities by giving it prompts and tasks. You can access ChatGPT by clicking here.  ChatGPT’s landing site provides users with a list of examples of tasks the AI can complete; it also is “trained to decline inappropriate requests” though the site does not clearly state which types of requests are deemed inappropriate. The site clearly states the limitations of the application, noting that the information generated may be incorrect and may be biased (because it is pulling content from online sources, which, as scholars know, can be both biased and incorrect). 

While many brace for negative outcomes, other scholars are searching for ways to employ this technology in their service. ChatGPT can be tasked with completing duties that can help educators with their time management. Some of these more general tasks include:

  • Leveraging ChatGPT as a mode of tutoring/guided help for student questions, etc. 
  • Creating rubrics.
  • Tasking the AI with creating writing samples or other projects for students’ analysis (rather than the instructor creating those materials).
  • Responding to emails.
  • Creating and managing appointments and calendar events.
  • Locating and collating a repository of helpful materials. 
  • Offering simple feedback on formative assessments. (This would likely be best when working with assignments that are less subjective; the AI may lack the finesse to score a creative writing project, for example).
  • Writing letters of recommendation (educators can plug in the key qualities/attributions of a particular student and have the AI draft the letter).

For Further Reading

Below, you can connect to a variety of articles and resources regarding AI technology including ChatGPT. 

On AI and Composition

The College Essay is Dead

Now AI can write students’ essays for them, will everyone become a cheat?

AI and Learning

How AI is Changing the Way Students Learn

Scores of Stanford Students Used ChatGPT on Final Exams, Survey Suggests

The impact of artificial intelligence on learner–instructor interaction in online learning

EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Did ChatGPT Write This Report?

AI to Manage Tasks

ChatGPT Advice Academics Can Use Now

Exploring The Impact Of Social Robots And AI Used In Higher Ed

Student-Created App Can Determine if Essays Were Written By AI

How Data Could Personalize Education

Exploring The Impact Of Social Robots And AI Used In Higher Ed

Can ChatGPT Be a Blessing? (posted in Cynthia Alby at the Course Design Institute)

AI, Equity, Ethics, and Inclusion

Does AI Raise Ethical Concerns? 

Clear Bias Behind this AI Art Algorithm

Artificial intelligence in education: challenges and opportunities for sustainable development

Challenges and Possibilities

ChatGPT: Understanding the new landscape and short-term solutions

Why AI plagiarism can be hard to prove