Tips for Teaching (AI/ChatGPT Edition)

Artificial Intelligence is not a new concept, but it has recently achieved an ability impressive enough to spook the educational community. ChatGPT is leading the charge as a neural network machine learning model focused on natural language processing. A.K.A. it has some serious power to build text and “construct ideas” in human-sounding language patterns on seemingly limitless topics. The ability to back-and-forth with this AI and further develop responses gives it a unique ability that most haven’t seen in a bot before. There is clear potential for abuse in academic integrity and educational institutions must find ways to coexist with this new technology as it continues to get better and refine its ability to sound and think like us.

If you are willing to give this bot a try (and doing so will really help you understand what it is), you’ll see it can work for you just as well as it works for students. In this example, ChatGPT works as an instructional designer to assist a Physics Professor. Take a look at a productive conversation with ChatGPT about ChatGPT, where Judith Dutill got some great responses about the fundamentals of this AI and examples of how it can be used in Higher Education.

Coulter Faculty Commons is assembling ideas to consider as educators weigh the impact as more powerful AI becomes available. Whether or not you want to give ChatGPT a whirl, many of your students will. We encourage you to have a conversation about this tool with your students and consider updating your syllabus. Being transparent and explicit about your expectations is essential.

ChatGPT even has strategies it suggests you use for educating students on academic integrity: 

  • Clearly communicate your expectations for academic integrity in your course syllabus and throughout the course. This can include outlining the consequences for academic misconduct and the importance of citing sources properly. 
  • Discuss academic integrity with your students early in the course. This can help set a positive tone and establish a culture of academic honesty in your classroom. 
  • Use examples to illustrate the importance of academic integrity. For example, you can discuss real-world examples of academic misconduct or the negative consequences that can result from cheating. 
  • Encourage students to ask questions if they are unsure about what is acceptable. This can help students understand the expectations for academic integrity and avoid unintentional mistakes. 

Of course, you want to make sure you have the best assignments possible that help students learn and give you an accurate gauge of your students’ understanding, not ChatGPT’s. Here are some strategies that will help you design assignments effectively:

  1. Hyper-customize
    • Writing prompts that make use of class-specific material, such as reference to discussions in class or on Canvas, imagery, or video segments used in the course, and other unique or unusual material.
    • More personalized writing offers an opportunity to get to know students writing style and tone with content that an AI shouldn’t know.
    • Have students explain their thinking or describe the steps in their logic, problem-solving or writing process.
  2. Scaffolding/Iterative writing
    • Breaking major assignments down into smaller pieces creates a stronger end product and students are less likely to cheat.
    • Effective use of peer review requires students to evaluate other students’ work while also refining their own writing making use of AI more difficult.
  3. Alternate Assignments
    • The use of mind maps, organizers, vlogs, podcasts, debates, or interactive techniques provides opportunities for analysis, evaluation, and communication of thinking.
  4. Use ChatGPT
    • Put your prompts into ChatGPT and see what you get. If the response is good, consider revising the prompt or assignment.
    • Use the generated answer to your prompt as material for your students to critique. What does the answer miss? Where does it succeed? What biases are in the response?
    • Ask ChatGPT to refine your prompt, and offer suggestions for assignments that you could use, or that would be hard for students to use an AI chatbot on.
  5. Authentic Activities
    • Collect a diagnostic piece of in-person writing to compare to future essays.
    • Use of authentic assessments that require students to apply what they have learned to a new situation.

These are just suggestions and merely a sample of ideas.

The CFC is staying on top of this ongoing development! Check out our FAQ page on A.I. in Higher Education. We are regularly updating this page to encompass answers, suggestions, and resources for you. 


If you’d like to schedule a consultation the CFC is happy to help with your pedagogical needs.

Small Teaching: Connecting

4th post of 9 in the Small Teaching Series

Small Teaching by J.M. Lang presents methods for making small changes in your teaching practices (hence the name) that can significantly improve your students’ learning. Each chapter provides the research-based evidence behind the practices Lang proposes so you can have confidence that Lang’s ideas work. The Coulter Faculty Commons will be boiling the Small Teaching chapters down into blog posts to provide instructors with concepts they can apply to a lesson, a class, or a course.

Retrieving, Predicting, and Interleaving are all small teaching lessons that offer opportunities to help students acquire Knowledge. The next three lessons will focus on developing students’ Understanding, to help you foster active learning moments in your classroom. This post addresses using Connection to increase student understanding.


Far too often students have knowledge that exists in separate boxes from prior learning. Getting these discrete bits of collective knowledge to have relevance to each other and helping students to find meaning in their relationship is a difficulty for many educators. As an expert in your field, you have a dense network of neural connections between skills, facts, and concepts. It may be easy for you to slot new information into a fully developed network seeing connections with it and “dozens of other things [you] know” (Lang, p. 93). Your novice students may lack the abundance of connections, and consequently comprehension, with information as individual pieces that exist in certain contexts.



“Neurons form new connections with one another with every new experience we have: new sensations, new thoughts, new actions.”

(Lang, p. 94)






Building comprehension consists of helping students build interconnected networks of knowledge with other ideas, concepts, and information. With no ability to force students’ brains to make connections, our role is to create an environment that facilitates the formation of connections. Lang (2016) suggests the following tips to help enhance the connections students make:

  • Solicit Prior knowledge of your students at the beginning of the semester or individual class periods with brief written or oral questions or with whole-class knowledge dumps
  • Ask students to create concept maps that answer questions or solve problems; use concept maps multiple times throughout the semester with different organizational principles
  • Consider providing students with the scaffolding or framework of lecture material before class; let them fill in the framework with their connections.
  • As much as possible, offer examples or cases from everyday or common experience but also-and more importantly-give students the opportunity to provide such examples on their own.
  • Consider using the Minute Thesis or other in-class activities that help students see or create new connections prior to major assignments or exams

To help students “obtain the big picture-view” three principles should be kept in mind.

Provide the Framework – Make the framework/organization of the material visible. Showing how new information fits in regularly.

Facilitate Connections – Be present as the guide and expert in developing student knowledge networks, providing feedback on student discoveries, and correcting courses when they stray away.

Leverage Peer Learning Power – Use collaborative exercises to encourage students to help each other build bridges to disconnected knowledge.

Faculty lead the journey through the land of knowledge. Guiding students along the trails that connect experiences, content and Ideas. Skillfully revealing the mental map that has taken decades to build and crafting lessons that lead students to build their own network of connections.


As always, if you’d like to discuss these or other ideas with the Coulter Faculty Commons you can schedule an appointment at

Lang, J. M. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.