ChatGPT and generative AI: 25 applications to support student engagement

In the fourth part of their series looking at 100 ways to use ChatGPT in higher education, Seb Dianati and Suman Laudari share 25 prompts for the AI tool to boost student engagement


Charles Darwin University
17 Oct 2023
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A robot acting as a lecturer

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To help higher education professionals understand, in practical terms, how generative AI could support their work, we are presenting 100 applications of ChatGPT over a five-part series. We have already shared an introduction to prompting generative AI for teaching and learning, followed by 25 prompts relating to teaching and assessment and 25 to support administrative tasks. Here, we focus on the AI tool’s potential to enhance student engagement. Below, you will find 25 examples of prompts that show how generative AI can help keep students interested, connected and motivated.

1. Summarise long-read articles and texts: Summarise this research paper on “Students as partners” [insert up to 3,000 words]. Give me a list of dot points and include in-text references and a reference list. 

2. Generate study materials, resources and in-class activities: Can you create study materials and resources for a third-year course in thermodynamics, including and in-class prompts for high-achieving and low-achieving students? Develop a specific resource for both cohorts. 

3. Provide historical context: Provide historical context for the development of psychology. Outline the primary schools of thought for a first-year psychology course. Outline in chronological order, with the leading theorist of each thought identified. Provide a table of such and leave some answers blank. Provide solutions upside down for students to check their answers. Furthermore, generate story prompts from this to develop a new intro video for students to get them interested in the history of psychology. Make it engaging. 

4. Generate social media strategies and student marketing campaigns for an upcoming event: Can you create a plan to increase student attendance for this extracurricular event on student employability? Identify the resources, timing and planning of the event that is due to be delivered in March 2024. Now, with the list of 18 recommendations provided above, develop a detailed plan and timing for each and put it into an Excel output file to share with others. 

5. Develop interactive presentations and alternatives: Develop a slide deck on authentic assessment for a professional development workshop. Include headings and subheadings to each slide, and include references and five dot points for each slide. Identify the best font, size and format. Also, list a series of PowerPoint alternatives and online websites such as Canva and Prezi. Now, identify which ones are free to use. 

6. Evaluate online learning resources tailored for universal design (UD): Ensure that my study materials on academic integrity [insert your own resource] meet universal design principles using the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) principles of universal design. 

7. Provide homework support to students or as an academic adviser: Act as an educational support adviser for students and provide support for students on the issue of marginal utility theory and explain it more simply and succinctly for a ninth-grade student. Develop a cheat sheet guide to different types of utility theory and compile a series of 10 questions and answers to help guide students. 

8. Create simulations or games: Develop a learning game or simulations on any particular issue. 

9. Develop virtual classroom breakout room activities: Develop a series of activities on ethics in health tailored for breakout rooms in Zoom, Teams or Blackboard Class, which are short but require collaborative input from all students. 

10. Develop classroom-management strategies: Function as an academic teaching first-year master’s students in applied linguistics from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Set up a week-by-week strategy to help international students engage, collaborate, participate and be inclusive.

11. Create an engaging student-facing public speech: Create an engaging and informative script that leverages generative AI capabilities to enhance student engagement. Design the script to capture and maintain student interest in a topic related to work-integrated learning placement opportunities to all first-year students. Incorporate strategies for active participation and interactivity. Conclude with a thought-provoking question or discussion prompt to stimulate classroom engagement and dialogue. 

12. Student Excel assistance: Can you help me grasp the concept of Excel’s data validation feature? Could you provide guidance on recording and tweaking macros in Excel? Can you show me how to efficiently organise, analyse and evaluate my schoolwork using Excel, especially when it comes to spotting trends? 

13. Provide an essay outline for this issue: Act as a lecturer and provide an outline for any essay on [insert details] and what are the 20 most important things to consider when developing an essay. 

14. Create and solve maths problems: Use this regression of y = 3x + 15 and act as a maths teacher to help identify the main issues students have with this equation. Provide an explanation for each step and provide real-world examples of how this formula is important. 

15. Teaching writing skills: Help my students understand the difference between active and passive voice and how syntax and structure can improve their writing; here is an example paragraph, identify explicitly where they need to improve on and how to do it. 

16. Algorithmic decision-making: Help my students make better decisions using AI. Suggest that they are an academic manager facing a difficult decision in the university. Use this scenario and generate a list of potential solutions, explaining the underlying algorithm used to determine these options. 

17. Quiz error detection and question formatting: Can you identify if my multiple-choice questions are incorrect, inconsistent, obvious, repetitive, distracting or double-barrelled? Do not give me answers to the questions; please check the wording of the question itself. 

18. Analyse student report writing based on a rubric: Act as a teacher of a first-year business course and critique the following library database search for journal articles assessment from this student [ChatGPT derived] using this rubric provided by Flinders University. Advise how the student could improve their writing to address assessment requirements adequately. [You can ask students to paste a couple of paragraphs from their essay or report into generative AI to analyse the writing.

19. Ideas on responding to discussion posts: Respond to this student’s remark on the discussion post and offer three ways of looking at the problem. Be friendly and casual in your tone. Be supportive of their posts and outline a sentence that was interesting. Develop a follow-up question based on the post to generate more discussion for others to reply. 

20. Gamification: Assist me in designing games tailored for the course [please specify the course name and context]. Provide illustrative examples, formulate detailed lesson plans and enumerate tasks for both instructors and students. Additionally, highlight critical considerations to ensure the successful execution and integration of these games. 

21. Provide instruction on assignments: Help me develop a list of instructions for the following task [specify the task] for my undergraduate students, the majority of whom speak English as a second language. As well as generating ideas, instruct students on homework for the following week and the list of learning outcomes relating to this task. 

22. Support with online technologies: Help my students understand the following concept on civil engineering using AutoCAD. Explain the steps they need to follow on the program to get them started, including how to download, install and edit using the tool. 

23. Foster creative writing: Can you generate 10 unique writing prompts or story ideas to inspire students’ creativity and help them overcome writer’s block on any particular issue? 

24. Summarise YouTube lectures and videos: Take this YouTube transcript from this one-hour professional development workshop and identify what are the 10 main key points. Now, turn these into questions in dot points for a presentation. 

25. Unpack terminology and public discourse: Summarise the current understandings of neoliberalism and offer several perspectives and political ideologies relating to this provocative term. 

In our next resource in this five-part series, we will share 25 uses of generative AI that can support research and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Please note that prompts and applications of AI output should adhere to the fundamental values of the International Centre for Academic Integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage.

Seb Dianati is an academic lead for digital learning initiatives, and Suman Laudari is a digital learning designer, both at Charles Darwin University.

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