Want to know how to use AI in your classroom today? Discover easy to implement, creative ideas in this article ‘Teaching with AI: Innovative Ways to Engage Students’
By Dr Nici Sweaney
AI is rapidly transforming the world, and the field of education is no exception. As educators, it’s important to integrate AI into our classrooms to show students how to use it responsibly and ethically. In this blog post, we’ll explore 7 ways to use AI in the classroom that you can implement today!
1. Instant Feedback
With AI, students can ask questions about subject matter using Chatbots like ChatGPT, or you can create a specific Chatbot that points students to subject-specific material, like previous lectures, workshops, or set readings. This provides instant feedback and promotes independent learning. If you’re interested in this, you can read this systematic review, which outlines how ChatBots are used in classrooms and an overview of their strengths in improving student learning.
2. Conversations with Historical Figures or Experts
With tools like ChatGPT, Hello History or Character.ai, students can converse with historical figures or experts in various fields. For example, students can chat with Einstein to understand relativity or quiz Mozart about his approach to music composition. This provides a unique and engaging learning experience.
3. Practice Exam Questions
After briefing AI on your subject and students’ level, AI can produce practice exam questions and provide feedback on answers. This allows students to share their questions and answers among peers and explain their approach and the feedback they received.
4. Evaluating AI’s Summary
Have students use AI to summarise a particular topic and then ask them to evaluate the output. This teaches students to critically analyse what AI provides. For example, students can ask AI to produce a short essay on the causes of flooding in southeast Australia, and then find peer-reviewed literature that supports the output and alternative opinions.
5. Text to Image Art
AI programs like Fotor, DeepAI and Artssy can produce text to image art. Students can describe something to AI and evaluate what is returned, teaching them to improve their communication. Did they give AI enough information to produce a valid image? Do they need to refine it? Was it what they expected? Why or why not?
6. Individual Pop Quizzes
Similar to practice exam questions, you can use AI to provide each student with a small subset of questions relevant to that day’s lesson/lecture/workshop. Students can receive instant feedback and talk through results with peers to deepen their understanding.
7. Personalised Lesson Plans and Assessment/Revision Tasks
Tools like CuriPod and CoPilot can generate individual lesson plans and personalised assessment/revision tasks. This increases lesson access and equity by providing individualised ways for students to show they have reached learning outcomes. Leverage AI to do this work for you, so you can concentrate on your students.
AI is an incredibly powerful tool that can revolutionise the classroom experience. By integrating AI into your teaching methods, you can provide your students with unique, engaging and personalised learning experiences.
Let us know if you use any of these methods and how you found it (and feedback from your students).
ChatGPT is easy to use, and is even set to be fully integrated in to the way we use the internet on a daily basis. So how does that impact classroom assessment? What can we, as educators, do to encourage deep learning by our students and ethical AI practice? Dr Nici Sweaney, one of TCC,…
Students often feel anxious during group work. Here, Nici shares a practical exercise to improve group work assessment for students. This article was also published as part of the ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching Newsletter, in October 2022. As research shows that social skills are regarded higher than content-related skills when it comes to…
The rise of AI, and specifically ChatGPT, is changing the game for educators across all sectors. We’re guessing you’re here because you’re wondering how AI might effect your assessment in class, and how on earth you can hope to manage its ethical use by your students. “The push-pull relationship between assessment and misconduct, is an…
ChatGPT is easy to use, and is even set to be fully integrated in to the way we use the internet on a daily basis. So how does that impact classroom assessment? What can we, as educators, do to encourage deep learning by our students and ethical AI practice?
Dr Nici Sweaney, one of TCC, outlines options below.
This article was also published in the Centre for Leaning and Teaching newsletter, Feb 2023
Effective assessment is a nuanced art. As educators we endeavour to create assessment that adequately evaluates student understanding, provides the opportunity for deep learning and reflection and enables constructive feedback. We also aim to assess in a range of ways to account for different ways of learning and in a manner that is equitable and fair, all while remaining relevant and in-line with the latest pedagogies and technologies. This ever-evolving landscape of assessment best-practice has meant the days of handwritten essays are all but over, and there is growing popularity for exams to be delivered online.
Now, of course, educators recognise the opportunity for misconduct in the online space. Historically, to combat this we have equipped ourselves with a range of tools, such as Turnitin, which detect and flag plagiarism. We have also adopted novel approaches to exams such as randomised questions, assigning students individual problems to work on, and posing case studies and theoretical scenarios. These tools, although not completely infallible, have largely preserved the integrity of assessments.
But this, the push-pull relationship between assessment and misconduct, is an evolutionary arms race.
So what do we do when little Alice suddenly learns to run a whole lot faster?
Over the last couple of months, you may have heard of ChatGPT (and if you have not….you can guarantee your students have). Released in November 2022 by Open AI, ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot. It interacts with the user in a conversational way, with the ability to remember conversations, provide follow-up answers, challenge incorrect premises, and correct itself. It is currently completely free and open to everyone.
Alice just got a jet-pack booster upgrade.
This following text is written entirely by AI.
ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionise the way university students approach writing essays and other forms of assessment.
ChatGPT makes is easier for students to access and use writing resources. With the ability to understand and respond to natural language, ChatGPT can be programmed to provide students with information on specific topics, including sources of research and examples of well-written essays.
ChatGPT can also provide students with instant feedback on their writing. With the ability to understand and analyze natural language, ChatGPT can quickly and accurately grade essays, providing students with detailed feedback on grammar, structure, and content.
ChatGPT can be used to help students study for exams in a few ways. The model can be used to provide students with information and resources on specific topics, including summaries of key concepts, examples, and explanations. ChatGPT can also be used to generate practice questions and answers, which can help students to test their understanding of the material and identify areas where they need further study.
Now, back to me. Pretty impressive right? Maybe a touch daunting. Shocking. Exciting. All of the above?
However you feel about this tool – and its output – it’s here to stay and there’s no point pretending our students won’t know about it or be using it to assist them in their studies. And why shouldn’t they? It’s a really great search engine – compiling lots and lots of data points in to information that’s accessible and easy to understand.
But even if we accept that everyone will be using these tools, as educators we still have an obligation to ensure that our graduates leave University with the necessary skills and tools required in their chosen careers, and not just with great skills in using AI and pressing copy paste.
So what can we do about it?
I asked ChatGPT, and according to AI, there are four ways we can better design assessment to assess the student, and not the AI chatbot:
Use of open-ended or creative questions: One way to design university assessments so that students cannot use AI to help them is by using open-ended or creative questions that require original thought and personal interpretation. These types of questions cannot be easily answered by AI and require students to demonstrate their own understanding and knowledge of a subject.
Use of proctored exams: Another way to prevent students from using AI to cheat on university assessments is by administering proctored exams. Proctored exams are typically administered in a controlled environment, such as a classroom or testing center, and are supervised by a teacher or proctor. This makes it much more difficult for students to use AI to cheat.
Use of plagiarism detection software: A third way to prevent students from using AI to cheat on university assessments is by using plagiarism detection software. These software programs are designed to identify and flag instances of plagiarism in written work, making it much more difficult for students to use AI-generated content in their essays.
Use of hands-on or practical assessments: Another way to design assessments so that students cannot use AI to help them is by using hands-on or practical assessments that require students to demonstrate a skill or apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. These types of assessments cannot be easily replicated by AI and require students to demonstrate their own abilities and understanding. For example, in engineering or programming classes, an assessment that requires students to build a robot or code a program, will be difficult to replicate by AI.
In addition to these four ways, it’s also important to have a robust academic integrity policy in place and communicate it clearly to students. It would also be a good idea to train the educators and proctors on the usage of such software and technology to detect cheating, so they are able to spot any suspicious activity or use of AI by the students.
It’s Nici again.
So using in-person exams and practical assessment is a way around the use of AI. ChatGPT suggests using anti-plagarism software, but I’ll note that I have run some AI generated content through Turnitin and it did not flag plagiarism issues. Under current practices, it’s unlikely that this tool alone would enable us to pick up the use of AI.
AI is constantly evolving, and it will become more advanced and intuitive in the future – that’s the whole point of it. As of January 2023, you might be wondering if it’s possible to spot the use of AI in your students work.
Chat GPT has some hints:
Unusual patterns of language usage: AI-generated text often has patterns and characteristics that are different from those found in human-written text. For example, AI-generated text may have a higher frequency of certain words or phrases, or may have a more mechanical or formulaic structure. Educators can use software tools such as plagiarism checkers to detect these patterns and flag any suspicious text.
Lack of critical thinking and originality: AI-generated text typically lacks the critical thinking and originality that is expected in student assessments. Educators can look for signs of this, such as a lack of personal perspective or original ideas, in the student’s work.
Inconsistency in the work: AI-generated text may have inconsistencies in terms of tone, style, or level of detail. Educators can compare different parts of the student’s work to look for any inconsistencies that may indicate AI use.
Inconsistency in the writing style: Educators can compare the student’s work over time to look for changes in writing style that could indicate the use of AI.
Lack of understanding of the subject matter: Educators can also ask students to explain or elaborate on their work to see if they have a deep understanding of the subject matter, which is unlikely if the work is generated by AI.
It’s important to note that these methods are not foolproof, and the use of AI may not always be obvious. However, using a combination of these methods can help educators to detect and address any instances of AI use in student assessments.
As educators, we will need to say informed of the advancements in AI and adapt our assessment methods accordingly. If we want to assess our students understanding and provide constructive feedback that ensures our graduates excel in life outside university, we need to be creative and likely step outside our own comfort zones.
If you have been looking for a reason to re-design your assessment ahead of semester kicking off, this might just be it. You might even want to use ChatGPT for some inspiration.
Students often feel anxious during group work. Here, Nici shares a practical exercise to improve group work assessment for students.
This article was also published as part of the ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching Newsletter, in October 2022.
As research shows that social skills are regarded higher than content-related skills when it comes to employability, conveners are increasingly using group work as an assessment tool to equip their students for life beyond their degree. However, students can be apprehensive about working with others, and often experience social anxiety when faced with group work, particularly when they do not know their group members. Add in the fact that after two years of remote learning and lock-downs, young adults are particularly at risk of increased social anxiety, and that first year students are more likely to already be suffering feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and we suddenly have a pretty challenging scenario when wanting to facilitate effective group work.
As the convener of a large first year course at the Australian National University, I acknowledged these challenges and used research in psychology to increase students’ sense of belonging in their groups. The outcome surpassed even my expectations and my approach has led to some wonderfully effective in-class collaboration.
Using science to foster friendships
Wanting to encourage students to grow their teamwork and social communication skills, I introduced a group project to my course this year. Students were randomly assigned to groups of 5–6 peers and were tasked with working together all semester on a contemporary Australian environmental issue of their choice. The challenge was how to get these students to work together collectively and to feel comfortable doing so. As a scientist, naturally, I looked to science for help.
In 1997, Aron and colleagues published a psychology study outlining a procedure to ‘generate interpersonal closeness’. The study quickly attained notoriety and has been touted by many pop magazines and papers as ‘The 36 Questions to Fall in Love’. But it’s not really about falling in love. The paper is really about accelerating a feeling of closeness between strangers by asking a specific series of questions. These questions encourage you to share and disclose personal information – a practice which can establish the building blocks of true friendship. I recognised the questions’ potential for helping my students.
In the first workshops of the semester, when students were assigned to their groups, I asked everyone to complete a survey asking how comfortable they felt working with their group members, and how close they felt to others in their assigned groups. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than half of the students said they felt either uncomfortable or neutral about working in their group, and a whopping 92.5% said they did not feel close to their group members.
I then had students perform the exercise outlined in the 1997 paper: the students would take turns in asking each of their group members a series of 36 questions. This exercise lasted for almost an hour. I was nervous that students would be shy and would not engage with the activity. My tutors were ready to help prompt conversation and on the lookout for groups that weren’t interacting. But once the exercise started, to my surprise, the whole room was filled with laughter, and students were talking and sharing. The tutors and I just stood back as no one needed prompting. All 167 students were engaged and open and making real connections. It was incredible to watch.
The proof is in the numbers – students felt more comfortable and closer to their group members
After the exercise, students were again asked how comfortable they felt working in their group, and how close they felt with group members. After only an hour spent with each other, 90% of students said they felt comfortable or very comfortable working with their group members, and 61% said they felt close or very close to their group members (with a further 31% feeling neutral). Remarkably none of the 51 students who said they “did not feel close at all” with their group at the outset of the exercise, felt that way after performing the exercise.
The takeaway – using research-led practices to enhance social communication is key
Using targeted practices to help foster important social skills can be extremely effective and successful. More than this, applying such practices can provide fun and engaging ways for students to build relationships. Having the skills to build relationships not only makes our students more employable, it also increases their feelings of belonging and enjoyment while at university. It is important to create a sense of community amongst our students. After all, university is about so much more than the content, and many of these students will be colleagues one day.
The rise of AI, and specifically ChatGPT, is changing the game for educators across all sectors. We’re guessing you’re here because you’re wondering how AI might effect your assessment in class, and how on earth you can hope to manage its ethical use by your students.
“The push-pull relationship between assessment and misconduct, is an evolutionary arms race. So what do we do when little Alice suddenly learns to run a whole lot faster?
—Dr Nici Sweaney
Nici, one of our TCC founders, recently was part of a panel discussing how ChatGPT will shape the future, and what we can do as educators to respond.