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Academic Rigor in the Age of AI

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

In recent months, educators have raised reasonable concerns about generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, Claude, Google Bard, and Bing Chat. While these tools have almost endless possibilities, like any other teaching tool, it is still important to carefully plan and consider how these technologies are leveraged to enrich instruction rather than replace it (Carvalho 2023.).

Below are a few strategies faculty can implement to help challenge students to think critically beyond just using AI-generated responses:

  1. Require Analysis and Evaluation - Ask students to assess the strengths and limitations of ChatGPT’s summaries, feedback, etc., and write a reflection explaining where they agree/disagree and with the output and why (Carvalho 2023).

  2. Make Connections to Course Materials - Require students to cite specific course readings, lectures, etc. to support or contradict the AI-generated responses.

  3. Prompt for Deeper Explanations and Connections - Don't let students simply submit a ChatGPT response. Require them to explain concepts in their own words and make connections to current events or even their own experiences.

  4. Apply Concepts to New Contexts - Provide students with case studies or problems that you have faced in your area of expertise. Then, ask students to use course concepts and Generative AI to analyze and evaluate the scenario citing course materials (Anders 2023).

  5. Synthesize Ideas and Provide Honest Evidence - Ask students to use generative AI to aid in the completion of certain assignments. Meanwhile, have students keep a running record of the outputs and information they receive from the AI as a shared Google Doc. Students can then combine the responses and sources into an integrated analysis. Don't allow cherry-picking (Anders 2023).

  6. Group Discussions - Have students share and compare their analyses of the AI tool’s responses and collaboratively reach evidence-based conclusions.

  7. Alternative Assessment - Allow the use of generative AI tools for some draft work but require students to create presentations, videos, etc. that allow them to share what they have learned with each other.

  8. Monitor Progress - Review multiple drafts over time to ensure students develop their abilities and are meeting the course expectations. Consider allowing students to create first drafts using generative AI tools more heavily.

The key is to thoughtfully design assignments that encourage students to actively engage with course materials, think critically, and demonstrate their reasoning skills. Rather than a final product, AI-generated content should be a launch pad for deeper learning. Requiring students to analyze, synthesize and evaluate AI outputs pushes them to move beyond superficial reliance on technology. With deliberate effort, faculty can maintain high academic standards while also allowing responsible, ethical uses of AI that enhance the learning process.

NOTE: Portions of this post were written with the assistance of generative AI.


Anders, B. (2023). The share technique for designing assignments and assessments in the age of ai. C2C Digital Magazine (Spring/Summer 2023). [LINK]

Carvalho, L., Martinez-Maldonado, R., Tsai, Y.-S., Markauskaite, L., & De Laat, M. (2022). How can we design for learning in an AI world? Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 3, 100053. [LINK]



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