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. 

ChatGPT: Using Chatbots in Higher Education

“[…] ChatGPT feels different. Smarter. Weirder. More flexible. It can write jokes (some of which are actually funny), working computer code and college-level essays. It can also guess at medical diagnoses, create text-based Harry Potter games and explain scientific concepts at multiple levels of difficulty.” Kevin Roose, “The Brilliance and Weirdness of ChatGPT,” NYTimes, 12.05.22.


The Latest Technology

Chances are you’ve heard about ChatGPT. Released late in 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has turned the heads of educational institutions and teachers in every field. From doomsday predictions to enthusiasm for creative and educational possibilities, there is a plethora of media coverage for the new Artificial Intelligence. Regardless of what they’ve heard, instructors will benefit from giving the tool’s capacities to generate readable prose some thought as they prepare their courses and assignments.

“ChatGPT is not without precedent. Souped-up spell-checkers such as Grammarly, Hemingway, and Word and Google-doc word-processing tools precede ChatGPT and are often used by students to review and correct their writing. Like spellcheck, these tools are useful, addressing spelling, usage, and grammar problems, and some compositional stylistic issues (like overreliance on passive voice). However, they can also be misused when writers accept suggestions quickly and thus run the danger of accepting a poor suggestion. Automation bias is in effect — we often trust an automated suggestion more than we trust ourselves. Further, over-reliance can mean students simply miss opportunities to grow and develop as writers” (Montclair State University, 1.08.22).

This post serves to introduce faculty to ChatGPT and link them to resources that will be developed by the CFC (see the bottom of this post for the FAQ page). These resources will be continually updated as this technology advances, best practices are developed, and research is published. Our next post will address ways to create and adapt assignments in the reality of a time where A.I.-powered programs are being used by students and faculty alike.

Here is what ChatGPT had to say when asked to write a blog post introducing itself to higher education faculty:

ChatGPT in Higher Education

ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI that uses natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to understand and respond to user input. ChatgGPT is capable of generating responses that are similar to those produced by a human, making it a useful tool for a variety of applications. In recent years, chatbots like ChatGPT have gained popularity in higher education as a way to enhance student learning and engagement.


One way that ChatGPT can be used in higher education is as a study aid. ChatGPT can be programmed to provide students with practice questions and quizzes to help them review and reinforce key concepts. ChatGPT can also provide personalized feedback to students based on their responses, helping them to identify areas where they may need to focus more attention.

Another way that Chatgpt can be used in higher education is to facilitate discussions. ChatGPT can be programmed to ask questions or prompt students to share their thoughts on a particular topic, helping to create a more interactive and engaging learning environment. ChatGPT can also be used to provide students with additional resources, such as links to relevant articles or websites, to help them explore a topic in more depth.

However, it’s important to consider the risks associated with using ChatGPT in higher education, including the potential for academic misconduct. ChatGPT can produce responses that are similar to those produced by a human, which means that it could potentially be used to cheat on assignments or exams. It’s important for educators to be aware of this risk and to take steps to prevent academic misconduct, such as using plagiarism detection tools and proctored exams.

While Chatgpt has many potential benefits in higher education, it also has some limitations. One limitation is that Chatgpt is only as good as the data it has been trained on, and may not be able to produce accurate responses to questions or prompts outside of its training data. ChatGPT is also not capable of demonstrating the same level of critical thinking or originality as a human, and should not be used as a substitute for traditional teaching methods.

(Written by ChatGPT as prompted by Ian Selig)





Have questions about the use of A.I. Chatbots in higher education?

Head over to our F.A.Q. on A.I. Chatbots

This post was written with content from Teaching Resources by Montclair State University Office for Faculty Excellence and the use of ChatGPT by Ian Selig

Spring Teaching & Learning Day Event

This workshop will take an intimate look at neurodiversity and many of the characteristics resulting from seeing the world through a very different lens. We will engage in several activities that will provide a glimpse into living with a learning disability and ADHD. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of this population along with their strengths and challenges. Come prepared to move around, share your thoughts, and participate in experiential lessons designed to help you better serve this dynamic population.

Save Your Spot!

Let us know if you are going to attend this exceptional workshop!

John Willson received a B.A. in Sociology in 1990 from Texas State University and an M.S in Outdoor Therapeutic Recreation Administration from Aurora University in 1993. John has spent over 30 years working in youth programs with an emphasis on youth diagnosed with learning and attention challenges. He has led hundreds of adventure courses throughout North America, Costa Rica, and Belize. He is currently the Executive Director of SOAR, a non profit residential academic boarding school, summer adventure camp, and Gap year program serving youth diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD.

Along with his responsibilities at SOAR, John is currently the Past President of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of North Carolina. He also served on the national board for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficiency / Hyperactivity Disorder).

He actively presents to teachers, parents and professionals at local, state and national conferences. In addition, he has been an adjunct professor at Western Carolina University and Mars Hill College teaching Outdoor Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, and Leadership courses. His certifications include Wilderness First Responder, PADI Rescue Diver, State licensed Recreation Therapist, and Nationally Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

Finally, and most importantly, he is an adult thriving with ADHD and the proud parent of two magnificent, creative, children living with learning and attention challenges.

Popcorn & Pedagogy Oct 25, 12:30 pm HL 186

Coulter Faculty Commons 

High Impact Practice (HIP) Educational Development Program: Popcorn & Pedagogy 

HIP focus: Collaborative Assignments & Projects 


Evidence shows that High Impact Practices (HIPs) offer educational benefits for students, including increased rates of student retention and student engagement. One of several HIPs includes collaborative assignments & projects. Join us in an interactive conversation about how two experienced WCU faculty members successfully use collaborative assignments & projects to strengthen intellectual skills and engagement of their students. The first in a series of conversations, we are pleased to roll out our new educational development program: Popcorn & Pedagogy. 


Tuesday October 25, 2022 

12:30-1:45 pm (Program)
2:00-3:00 pm (Optional Workshop) Stay for a while longer to draft a collaborative assignment or project for one of your classes. 

You bring a sandwich. We’ll make fresh popcorn! 


  1. Promote academic excellence by recognizing and celebrating outstanding faculty that engage in high impact practices (tied to WCU Strategic Goal 1.2.3).  
  2. Provide an easy access point for faculty who want to adopt or improve existing high impact practices in their classes (tied to WCU Strategic Goal 1.2.1).  
  3. Eat popcorn. 


WCU’s expert faculty are known for engaging students in high impact practices.  Two faculty members will share their expertise. You’ll have an opportunity to ask them questions. 


Rebekah Campbell

Rebekah Campbell, MS is a full-time instructor in Parks and Recreation Management in the Human Service Department.  Her passion is exploring and applying experiential learning methodologies to create a more dynamic and engaging learning process for students. 

Wes Stone, PhD is the Director and a Professor in the School of Engineering + Technology. His primary teaching duties are in product development, using a project-based learning (PBL) approach. His research interests are focused on outdoor gear design, analysis, and testing. 


Hunter Library 186 

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Identify the benefits of implementing collaborative assignments and projects for both students and professors. 
  • Examine collaborative assignments and projects used by experienced faculty. 
  • Determine how elements of collaborative assignments and projects might work in your own classes and programs. 

Program Deliverables: 

  • Connected learning with your colleagues. 
  • Space and time to think intentionally about collaborative assignments and projects in the context of your own courses and programs. 
  • Resources for further reading and exploration. 

Optional Workshop Deliverable: 

  • Draft a collaborative assignment or project for one of your courses. 


Look for more information about our next HIP conversation coming soon!  

“Feeling Seen and Appreciated”: Student Feedback Preferences

Guest Bloggers: Candy Noltensmeyer and Lisa Bloom

Feedback is an integral part of the learning process. Many studies have examined feedback from the instructor’s perspective to enhance student learning. However, there is less research assessing how students perceive different types of feedback and their usefulness. 

Feedback is often a struggle for professors as it can be quite time consuming. Additionally, faculty are often left not knowing whether students have reviewed the feedback. On the other hand, some of us have heard students complain about the lack of feedback from professors. This leads us to wonder what kind of feedback students actually want.

Well, we asked students the question, and they responded with only minimal reminders to complete our survey!  We asked students about 3 specific types of feedback, written, audio, and video, and what they liked, disliked, and how each type made them feel. Additionally, we asked them to rate whether the feedback was engaging, easy to access, and easy to understand. Participants from courses in Education, Communication, and Integrated Health Sciences responded to Likert-type questions on a scale of 1-5 as well as open-ended questions.  

What we learned

Overall, students reported a preference for video feedback. While accessibility and understanding were ranked slightly higher for written feedback, video and audio closely followed. Students struggled a bit with accessing audio files. Students mentioned that replaying audio and video files was a bit cumbersome when searching for specific feedback, while they preferred the ease of skimming written feedback. But when it came to engagement, students really preferred video feedback. Most striking is the overwhelming number of comments about feeling connection and care from the feedback, audio and video in particular.

Topic Audio   Video   Written  
The Feedback was… Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement
Engaging 4.40 86% 4.59 91.9% 4.12 78.7%
Easy to Access 4.05 76.2% 4.65 91.9% 4.67 93.9%
Easy to Understand 4.51 90.7% 4.68 91.9% 4.52 92.9%

Here is what the students told us.

Audio feedback

“It made me feel proud of my work and happy to do such a good job on it. I enjoyed hearing the professor’s enthusiasm.”

“I liked how I was able to hear your tone and it was much easier to understand compared to reading off feedback (sometimes it’s confusing on paper).”

“I enjoyed hearing my professor’s voice- especially with this course being delivered in an asynchronous, online fashion. I enjoyed the verbal insights!”

“It felt much more personalized. Rather than a few words, or sentences that seem pretty generic, the audio feedback really gave me that feeling that my work was being read and analyzed.”

Video feedback

“The video feedback just made me feel more seen and appreciated.”

“It made me feel like I was one on one with the professor and sometimes is hard to come by in college.”

“During COVID, it has been weird to not be able to see my professors’ faces, so it was nice to be able to fully see their faces. It also felt more personal and somewhat like a conversation even though the professor was the only one talking.”

“Made me feel like a student rather than just a number with a generic response.”

Written feedback

“I understand that professors can’t write a book of feedback every time they grade something, but it just never feels like enough to go off of. It feels like I am getting the bare minimum amount of help.”

“It feels detached from my work and I feel like there is not as much effort with written feedback.”


In summary, students do appreciate feedback.  They are looking for feedback not just regarding an assessment of their performance and how to improve, but feedback is also a vehicle for relationship building.  As you are grading your students’ work, consider the audio and video feedback options afforded by Canvas.  We found these options to take only a little extra time, and the results were definitely worth it. The benefit comes in building strong relationships with students which translates into more engaged learning and positive classroom environments.  Students perceived feedback as evidence that they have been seen, heard, and regarded as individuals amongst a sea of others.  So, while you might be swimming in ungraded assignments, remember, that your feedback has the potential to be the life preserver that keeps a student engaged.