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Generative AI Resources for UNC Instructors

The CFE is engaging with faculty, staff, and instructors at Carolina and beyond to provide shared resources on emerging AI tools and their impact on higher education. A key concern is to ensure that we maintain the high academic standards and Honor Code that are central to a Carolina education and our campus community. Beyond the classroom, many are finding that these tools offer many possibilities and positive options that relate to general work and professional productivity. We are currently compiling specific teaching and assessment strategies developed and used by Carolina faculty and instructors as Field Notes for Teaching with ChatGPT.

On this page, you can find a summary of selected issues, resources, and potential effective uses and challenges or concerns for instructors and students. This resource is meant to be a starting point for faculty to explore the implications and applications of generative AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, and their impacts on teaching at UNC. However, these platforms, their applications in higher education, and their implications for teaching and learning, are evolving rapidly. We will endeavor to continue to update this page as information and best practices develop.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT, short for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a chatbot or type of language model based on transformer architecture and released by OpenAI as ChatGPT in late November 2022 and as Chat GPT4 in March 2023 for paid subscribers on a limited basis. It quickly became popular and the web app reached 100 million active users in January, making it the fastest-growing consumer app in history, according to Reuters. ChatGPT is a type of large language model based on transformer architecture developed by OpenAI (see Hussman article linked below). It uses deep learning algorithms and a massive amount of text data to generate human-like responses to natural language queries. However, there are ongoing concerns about factual content used, bias that is perpetuated from sources it uses, and limitations such as a lack of proper citations and lack of recent historical events.

What should I be doing now?

  1. Try using ChatGPT or other generative AI platforms. By experimenting with it yourself, you will begin to get a better feel about its potential and its limitations.
  2. Review your course and assignments and decide whether you need to revise any instructions or parameters for the assignment. Consider whether generative AI platforms would have a possible impact on how students could complete the assignment.
  3. Review guidance from the UNC Generative AI Committee. The UNC Generative AI Committee has produced guidelines for faculty in their work as instructors and researchers. The committee has also developed guidelines that can be included in your syllabus. These guidelines have been shared with deans across campus so that individual schools can tailor these guidelines for their own contexts. Copies of all the guidelines produced by the committee are now available.
  4. Have a conversation with your students. They will be looking to you for guidance about what course-related uses are acceptable for any use of generative AI platforms, like ChatGPT.
  5. Be informed. Read as much as you have time to about how it is being used and issues you should consider as you begin thinking about its role in your courses and professional life.

Constructive Ideas for Using Generative AI in Teaching and Learning

Instructors at Carolina have been engaging in dialogue and generating several constructive ways to integrate tools like ChatGPT into their courses and student assignments. Generative AI platforms can produce essays, poems, discussion prompts, contracts, legal documents, lecture notes, images, and computer code. They can also be used to help brainstorm, kick-start an essay or writing project, explain ideas, and provide feedback to writers and offer suggestions for improvement on initial drafts. Explore additional faculty-generated ideas in the CFE’s Field Notes for Teaching with ChatGPT.

Here are a few examples of using ChatGPT, and other generative AI platforms, in teaching and learning:

Instructors can enhance their productivity in designing various components of a course they plan to teach, such as:

  • Use ChatGPT to help you brainstorm or ‘draft elements of the Course Description (or the Learning Objectives) for an (undergraduate/ graduate) course on [course topic]’. Of course, you need to review the content generated to ensure the ideas align with your true intent and plan for the course as part of the departmental curriculum.
  • In some cases, you might ask ChatGPT to ‘draft an outline for teaching the course on (course title).’

Instructors can also be intentional to consider possible use of ChatGPT when designing the course. Tips to design assignments include:

  • In written assignments, require that students reference class materials and notes or sources not available freely on the internet.
  • Include visual prompts that students must respond to. Include alt-text with any images for accessibility.
  • Refer to current events or discussions in your field.
  • Ask students to make connections between their personal knowledge or experiences and course concepts or topics that are unique to their life experiences.
As you plan a course and decide what activities and assignments you will ask students to do to demonstrate their mastery of knowledge, concepts, or problem-solving ability, you can:

  • Ask ChatGPT to ‘Generate a list of assignments for a college course on (course title)’. Then you can review the initial result produced and compare it to your initial plans.
  • Ask ChatGPT follow-up questions to refine the types of activities you want to use and/or to clarify more detailed aspects and instructions you might provide to students on the assignment.
  • Review and remove any prior or new assignments that AI/ChatGPT could too easily complete on behalf of the student. Be aware that AI programs are evolving rapidly and an assignment you checked with ChatGPT 3.5 in January of 2023 may no longer be “AI-proof” with ChatGPT 4 and other rapidly evolving platforms.
  • Draft a prompt to ask ChatGPT to generate sample case studies or vignettes to use during class or for an assignment.
  • Allow students to use ChatGPT to help brainstorm or generate ideas for a paper, presentation, or assignment.
  • Have students draft prompts, and follow-up prompts, for ChatGPT to search for relevant articles or resources.
  • Create an assignment for students that requires them to use ChatGPT, generate output, then provide a written critique of the output in light of course concepts, theories, data or topics specific to your course materials.
  • Create an activity or assignment that taps into recent events as ChatGPT does not yet incorporate more recent events in history.
  • First, talk to your students about the importance of academic honesty versus misconduct (fabrication, falsification, plagiarism) or cheating, and remind them of the UNC Honor Code.
  • Instructors can use ChatGPT to draft emails, announcements, or course communications – then review and personalize those.
  • Have students use ChatGPT to generate questions related to an assignment or project, or for small group discussion, or sample test questions – and critique those.
  • Require students to provide proper academic citations — they will have to go above and beyond ChatGPT output which does not provide reliable academic citations.
  • Ask students to document and reflect on how they used ChatGPT, or another generative AI platform, in the completion of their assignment.
  • Use an AI Checker tool – these are being developed by and for ChatGPT and other AI tools to assess the amount of text likely generated by AI tools like ChatGPT. However, be aware that generative AI platforms are evolving so quickly that most tools cannot reliably identify AI-generated material.

Remember that when you are using generative AI platforms to create any type of instructional materials, you should openly and transparently document that use. Being open with how you are using the platforms can help students understand the uses and limitations of the platforms, and also learn how to properly cite its use. Read more in the Teaching Use Guidance for Generative AI produced by the UNC Committee on Generative AI.

Challenges to Integrating ChatGPT and AI in Higher Education

It seems that instructors in higher education can either embrace that new resources like ChatGPT exist and assume students already know and use it, and/or will learn quickly as college students. If you assume they know or will use AI tools, then there are concerns about revising prior courses, adjusting assignments, and taking the use of AI tools into account. However, some also are trying to protect classic approaches to education and to require students to write with no technology assistance. While on the surface that sounds appropriate, how often in the workforce or their future careers will they be asked to work without tapping into available open resources?

Per a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, “ChatGPT is Everywhere.” Whether you love it or hate it, they argue we cannot ignore that the technology exists and is freely accessible for now.

So the question becomes who actually wrote any written assignments used in a class, the student or ChatGPT? If we assume students are going to use ChatGPT, how much training should we provide on using the tool well? How do the Honor Code and campus academic policies relate to this subject? Can we use AI detectors to identify possible plagiarism or cheating?

Limitations with Generative AI and ChatGPT

AI and ChatGPT are prone to have many errors that the user would have to identify or verify
ChatGPT does NOT provide academic citations; the user can ask it to search for resources, and may list those, but that does not reflect that an academic search of the literature was actually conducted.
Since these tools pull from large data sets of existing resources from the past, they will likely by default include certain implicit or tacit bias that may have been assumed or built into prior works.
Like most technologies, there may be an inequity in relation to who has access, can fund, and receives training in how to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

UNC Resources on ChatGPT

Can ChatGPT rewrite the rules of higher education? (3/6/2023)

  • Panel included staff from:

UNC Center for Information, Technology and Public Life (CITAP)

  • Feb. 3, 2023 Event: ChatGPT in Context PANEL
    Alice Marwick (Communication)
    Shashank Srivastava (Computer Science)
    Heesoo Jang (Journalism and Media)
    Chad Bryant (History)
Generative AI and Academic Writing

  • What UNC students need to know about using ChatGPT.
Mark McNeill, Professor of the Practice, Kenan-Flagler Business School

UNC Campus Policies

CFE is partnering with many groups and individuals across campus as part of the UNC Generative AI Committee that has been commissioned by the Provost to develop additional guidelines and resources for faculty and staff at UNC.  For more information about the committee and its charge, please contact Mark McNeilly.  

See the Office of Student Conduct in Student Affairs
Review the section “For Instructors

The University Honor Code cites General Responsibilities for every student at Carolina to:

  1. Obey and support the enforcement of the Honor Code;
  2. Refrain from lying, cheating, or stealing;
  3. Conduct themselves so as not to impair significantly the welfare or the educational opportunities of others in the University community; and
  4. Refrain from conduct that impairs or may impair the capacity of University and associated personnel to perform their duties, manage resources, protect the safety and welfare of members of the University community, and maintain the integrity of the University.

It also defines Academic Dishonesty as: It shall be the responsibility of every student enrolled at the University of North Carolina to support the principles of academic integrity and to refrain from all forms of academic dishonesty including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Plagiarism in the form of deliberate or reckless representation of another’s words, thoughts, or ideas as one’s own without attribution in connection with submission of academic work, whether graded or otherwise.
  2. Falsification, fabrication, or misrepresentation of data, other information, or citations in connection with an academic assignment, whether graded or otherwise.
  3. Unauthorized assistance or unauthorized collaboration in connection with academic work, whether graded or otherwise.
  4. Cheating, in the form of gaining or attempting to gain an undue advantage on examinations or other academic work, whether graded or otherwise, including but not limited to the following: a. Using unauthorized materials and methods (notes, books, electronic information, telephonic or other forms of electronic communication, or other sources or methods), or b. Representing another’s work as one’s own.

Explore more details on the UNC Student Conduct and Honor System webpage.

College of Arts and Sciences

The UNC College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Undergraduate Curricula offers a section on Teaching and Evaluation with:

  1. Syllabus Guidelines and Academic and Policy Syllabi Statements
    • Attendance Policy, Honor Code Statement, Acceptable Use Policy, Late Submissions, Data Security and Policy, Syllabus Changes, Grade Appeal Process
  2. Services and Student Support Syllabi Statements
    • Accessibility Resources and Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Title IX Resources, Policy on Non-Discrimination, Diversity Statement, Undergraduate Testing Center, Learning Center, Writing Center

Other Resources