I was honoured to join a TEQSA/CRADLE panel on June 5th, the third in a series on the implications of ChatGPT (or Generative AI more broadly) for higher education. In my contribution to a previous panel from March, I had flagged the absence of any evidence about whether students have the capacity to engage critically with ChatGPT. So many people were proposing to do interesting, creative things with students – but we didn’t know how it would turn out.

The story so far

In the past 3 months, all over the world, we have seen 3 main strands of activity:

  • Discovering what Generative AI can currently do – via demos of ChatGPT’s capabilities and systematic evaluations of that capability
  • Turning it into a student activity – with proposals for how this can enable engaging student learning by integrating ChatGPT into student tasks
  • Piloting and evacuation – showcasing a small but growing stream of educators’ stories from the field, and with peer-reviewed research about to hit the streets

Where are we now?

At UTS, we have been engaging with AI in a way that’s both effective and ethical. Educators now have the ability to articulate the range of critical engagement that their students are displaying. Here are a couple of examples of how UTS academics have been introducing assessments integrating ChatGPT. 

Case study: Dr. Shibani Antonette (TD School)

For Applied Natural Language Processing (Master of Data Science and Innovation), students were asked to write a critical summary and visual map of ethical issues in NLP applications. They were encouraged to use ChatGPT for starter text or to improve their writing, then reflect on their use of it for learning. The most able students could engage in deep conversations with AI using excellent prompts (and follow-up replies). Less able students used simple prompts to access content on the topic and did not have a deeper discussion with AI.

Case study: Dr. Baki Kocaballi (FEIT)

As part of Interaction Design, students used ChatGPT to develop user personas and scenarios, ideate new design solutions and reflect critically on the results. The most able students could use ChatGPT effectively to get desired outputs: rich scenarios vividly describing personas’ problems and future scenarios. For deeper engagement, there could be clearer guidance on effective, critical, and responsible use of AI, plus more examples and in-class activities.

The student voice

In terms of next steps, we need to track how well these and other proposals for AI-informed learning and assessment translate across diverse contexts, but we also need to ensure there’s an open dialogue with students.

Building on last year’s Student Partnership Agreement and a newly established Artificial Intelligence Operations Policy, we initiated the Student Partnership in AI with two workshops on Generative AI and Predictive AI. These workshops included briefings from UTS experts, online discussions and face-to-face workshops.

Student workshop on AI with five people at a desk on laptops

From these sessions, 3 key things that UTS students told us they wanted was for us to:

  • Equip them to use ChatGPT for learning
  • Adapt more assessments so they integrate ChatGPT
  • Tread carefully if using detection tools to accuse them of going against academic integrity
3 things UTS students told us in our workshop: Equipus to use ChatGPT for learning, more assessments integrating ChatGPT, Turntin? Handle with care

You can access my full slides, and view a recording of the webinar below – it jumps to my 12-minute talk, but watch the whole panel!

I urge us all to harness the diverse brilliance of our student community in navigating this system shock. What have you learned from your use of AI, adapting of assessments and student experience of ChatGPT in Autumn session and how has it shaped what you have planned for Spring? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments box below.

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