How can we teach and assess with ChatGPT?

A guide to designing teaching and assessments that encourage students to learn with and about ChatGPT


TBS Education
22 Mar 2023
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ChatGPT, like all artificial intelligence (AI), will evolve and become more sophisticated, so we need teachers to promote responsible and cautious use of such AI writers – in other words, to guide students to learn with the tool and better understand its limitations.

ChatGPT provides human-like responses to questions by combing and analysing the data resources used to train it – currently 45 terabytes of data. The timeliness (trained on data until 2021), authenticity and accuracy of the responses is questionable and how and why these responses are generated is not explained. We can therefore see the limitations of the tool in its current form.

The potential negative impact of ChatGPT on higher education and assessment has been highly publicised. The problem is that students can simply copy and paste ChatGPT responses without critically analysing the accuracy, authenticity and source of the information being provided. While software firms are pushing products that they claim can spot AI-generated text (like plagiarism detectors), these products are in their infancy and their accuracy is not fully proven. It is inevitable that students will use ChatGPT and similar tools because, unlike Google searches or Wikipedia, ChatGPT provides exact responses to each question asked, which saves time.

Rather than debating the negative implications of ChatGPT, teachers should evolve, innovate, and redesign teaching to focus on how students can learn with ChatGPT. Teachers should stoke students’ curiosity and help them move deeper into interpretation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation of authenticity, usefulness and application of the ChatGPT responses.

1. Design activities that require reflection: Students should use ChatGPT so that they understand its capabilities and limitations in different contexts, and can critically analyse the relevance, accuracy and authenticity of its responses. For example, design activities in line with think-pair-share pedagogy, where students get a problem that could have multiple solutions. First, divide the class into two sections – one half uses ChatGPT to create solutions, the other half doesn’t. Next, in pairs or groups made up of students who have and have not used ChatGPT, all students discuss their solutions, reflect on each one, ask ChatGPT the best solution from the ones discussed and finally come up with a single response. This response can be a revised version of an existing solution, a completely new one integrating existing solutions, one that ChatGPT has selected, or the one agreed within the team. Each pair or group should present their final solution, explain the process of arriving at the solution, how they have and haven’t relied on ChatGPT, and what they have learnt from working individually, as a team and with ChatGPT. 

2. Link essay-type assignments to novel case studies: Instead of giving a ready-made familiar case-study from the web, teachers should formulate one that integrates details from several case studies. In doing so they create a novel scenario and increase the difficulty level. The questions that students are required to answer in case study-based assessments should require critical analysis, application and evaluation of taught concepts, construction and support of arguments, and generation, communication and articulation of new ideas. ChatGPT is not fully capable of doing that at the moment.

3. Ask for more in essay assessments: Teachers should impose a few house rules that might make it time-consuming and require more work if students use ChatGPT. We should make students explain what they have learnt and how they have satisfied the learning objectives.

a. Rule 1: Highlight everything in the essay where you have used ChatGPT responses. 

b. Rule 2: Write a reflection for each such instance, explaining how you have analysed the accuracy and authenticity of the information provided by ChatGPT. Say which sources have been consulted to critically analyse the information.

c. Rule 3: Explain briefly how using ChatGPT was either useful or not useful in your assignment.

d. Rule 4: If none of the above applies (ie, you have not used ChatGPT), please explain why you have not used it.

Imposing these rules will help students to better understand how to work with ChatGPT and promote responsible use of AI writers in their work. This will equip students with skills to support their professional development for future job roles, where human and AI tools will co-exist.

4. Discuss openly the importance of human skills in their future careers: Help students understand how ChatGPT and similar AI tools have and will continue to disrupt the graduate job market, human roles, responsibilities and tasks related to the course(s) you are teaching or their programme. Class activities and assessments should encourage students to harness and value their higher-order thinking skills.

ChatGPT and similar AI tools will disrupt organisations, careers and society in ways we cannot yet imagine. Teachers should therefore focus on engaging students to develop their critical-thinking, problem-solving and intuitive skills, and creative and emotional intelligence to construct and analyse knowledge. This will help students to value what, why and how they have learnt rather than the final outcome or solution, and to appreciate their own creativity and contributions to the learning process. 

Soumyadeb Chowdhury is associate professor and head of the TBS Research Center of Excellence, Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility; Samuel Fosso-Wamba is dean of research, both at TBS Education in France.

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