Teaching and Generative AI

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) systems such as ChatGPT, Bard, Stable Diffusion, and DALL•E2 are digital tools that generate content based on prompts provided by users. Given a user prompt, a GenAI tool uses algorithms to learn patterns from existing data sets (such as internet databases) and then produces new content - often in a matter of seconds. Designers have created GenAI systems that can generate natural language text, computer code, images, video, audio, and 3d models. Several hundred GenAI systems are now available, including tools that assist with scholarly research (e.g. ResearchRabbit, Semantic Scholar, or Consensus).

The wide availability of GenAI systems and the ease and speed with which they can generate content raises important considerations for teaching and learning in higher education. This resource provides instructors with suggestions and options for how to address AI use in their courses, plus links to additional resources. 

Because the GenAI field is fast evolving, this resource will be continually updated. We welcome suggestions for additional resources and information. 

Guiding Principles 

Learning-Centered: Like any tool students might use to engage in the work of a course—from library books to research databases to internet search engines—GenAI systems present opportunities for students to learn important skills, including creativity, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and discerning use of resources, among others. We encourage instructors to talk explicitly with students about the pluses and minuses of GenAI systems as they help or hinder learning in a course.  In this way, regardless of one's view of GenAI or concern with its implications, the emphasis is on learning and what might assist or inhibit the learning process.

For example, if a course learning objective is to help students develop their own voices and perspectives through reflective writing, then use of GenAI systems to produce text that ostensibly represents "personal voice" or "perspective" might undermine that objective. Alternatively, if a learning objective is to help students structure and refine the presentation of arguments in writing, a GenAI system might play a supportive role in the process of students' learning how to organize an argument in written form (which is not the same as a student trying to use a GenAI system to formulate the substantive claimwith accompanying reasoning and evidencethat is being structured in written form). 

Transparent: Faculty and GE instructors have flexibility in how they approach newly available GenAI tools, and this means students will shift among a variety of approaches in their different courses.  It is therefore essential for instructors to prioritize transparency so that students know clearly the GenAI policy in each individual class and the expectations for specific course activities and assignments, especially if the parameters for GenAI use vary among the latter.  In addition to including a GenAI course policy on the syllabus and explicit details about GenAI use in assignment instructions, we encourage faculty and GE instructors to talk explicitly with students about the rationale for their policy and expectations, including the relationship to students’ learning, as suggested above.

Course Policies

We strongly encourage instructors to have an explicit policy about GenAI in their course syllabus, including any relevant distinctions between GenAI use (as process) and GenAI content (as product). We also encourage instructors to reinforce their expectations in assignment instructions and in conversation with students. Based on helpful considerations articulated by Josef Brandauer and Melissa Forbes at Gettysburg College, the sample course policies below indicate a range of options that instructors can adapt depending on their specific course context and student learning goals.

Sample Course Policies
  • Require GenAI use for certain tasks or assignments: Learning to use GenAI tools [such as ChatGPT or whichever the course requires….], and recognize their pluses and minuses, are important emerging skills. Students in this class will thus be required to use specific GenAI tools to complete certain assignments. Instructions and guidelines for required GenAI use will be provided in class, and we will thoroughly discuss and debrief our class engagement with GenAI.

    Additions: In addition to a policy that requires GenAI use for certain tasks or assignments, instructors should determine to what extent additional GenAI use for other course activities or assignments is allowed, if at all. The policy ideas below provide a range of options that can be included for any GenAI uses allowed beyond those that are required.


  • Allow open GenAI use but require proper citation of GenAI content: Students may use GenAI tools in this class to help with course work and assignments. Helpful uses include brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, editing, and so forth. However, if you include in your assignment submissions any content that is generated by GenAI, such as text, images, graphics, etc., you must cite the GenAI tool that is your source, in the same way that you must cite any content you use from other sources, such as books, articles, videos, the internet, etc. In class and on Canvas, I will provide guidelines for how you need to cite GenAI as well as other sources. I will also provide helpful resources for how best to use GenAI to support your learning process and work. Although open use of GenAI is allowed in this class, be advised that GenAI suggestions or content can be inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise problematic; using GenAI can impact negatively the quality of your work and your grades.  I welcome questions and discussion about GenAI use in this course – let’s talk!


  • Allow open GenAI use but require documentation of use and proper citation of GenAI content: Students can use GenAI tools in this class to help with course work and assignments.  Helpful uses include brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, editing, and so forth. However, if you use a GenAI tool, you need to document your use, including the tool you use and when, where, and how in your work process you used it (for example: “I used ChatGPT to generate an outline for my paper, which I then revised before writing my first draft” or “I used slidesAI.io to create the slidedeck style for my presentation.” etc.). In certain cases, as part of your documentation, I may ask you to submit any GenAI results you obtained, so you need to keep GenAI-created drafts and logs of your interactions with GenAI tools; failure to provide such documentation may result in a grade reduction in certain instances. I will provide helpful resources for how best to use GenAI to support your learning process and work.

    Along with documentation of your GenAI use, you are also required to cite GenAI if you use any GenAI-created content in your work submissions, for example text or images or graphics generated by GenAI tools. That is, you need to treat GenAI just like other sources such as books, articles, videos, etc. I will provide guidelines for how you need to cite GenAI tools as sources.  


  • Allow certain GenAI uses but prohibit GenAI content: Students can use GenAI tools in this class to help with certain aspects of course work and assignments. This includes brainstorming ideas, creating a paper outline, or summarizing research findings of articles. However, you cannot use content such as text or graphics created by GenAI tools in your work; rather, you must be the author/creator of your work submissions. For example, you can use a GenAI tool to suggest a paper outline based on a draft you provide it, but you cannot submit a paper with text generated by GenAI as if the text is your own writing. Be advised, in accordance with UO policy, if I believe you’ve handed in work created whole or in part by GenAI tools, I may submit a report of suspected academic misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for that office to make a determination of responsibility and, if warranted, assess a grade penalty. So, if you are in doubt or have questions about a particular GenAI tool and if its use is okay, check in with me and let’s discuss!

    Variation: Instructors allowing certain GenAI uses can also require documentation using the sample language above.  In addition, instructors can list explicitly which GenAI uses are allowed and which are not allowed.


  • Allow GenAI use only with explicit permission for very specific tasks or assignments: Students may use GenAI tools in this course only with explicit instructor permission for certain tasks or on certain assignments. I will clearly indicate when you can use GenAI and provide clear guidelines for which GenAI tools are allowed and in what ways you can use them. I will also indicate how you will document your use of GenAI. In accordance with UO policy, if I believe you’ve handed in work created in whole or in part by GenAI tools used without permission, I may submit a report of suspected academic misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for that office to make a determination of responsibility and, if warranted, assess a grade penalty. The bottom line is, unless permission has been given, you should not use GenAI in this course. If in doubt, ask!

    Variation: Instructors can specify the exact uses allowed in the course policy statement, although it may be advantageous to communicate such uses in more detail in task or assignment instructions, in accordance with the course policy statement, as in the example here.


  • Do not allow GenAI use or content: Students may not use GenAI tools in this course to produce course materials or assignments in whole or in part. All work you submit for this course toward completion of course requirements must be your own original work done specifically for this course and without substantive assistance from others, including GenAI. Work you’ve completed for previous courses or are developing for other courses this term also should not be submitted for this course.  In accordance with UO policy, if I believe you’ve handed in work created all or in part by GenAI, I will submit a report of suspected academic misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for that office to make a determination of responsibility and, if warranted, assess a grade penalty. If you have any questions or doubts, please ask!


Note: If inclusion of content produced by GenAI is allowable under your course policy, here is possible language for indicating how to cite GenAI:

You may use content produced by a GenAI tool in your assignment submissions, but you must quote or cite it like any other source you use and reference in your work. Please use standard [APA or MLA] citation guidelines for GenAI, as indicated here: [MLA Style Center] [APA Style Blog].

We also encourage exploration of the Syllabus Resources from the Sentient Syllabus Project, which offers a variety of considerations and example policies that can be used or adapted. Instructors can also find dozens of sample course policies at this crowdsourced document, including an option to search by discipline and course topic.

Course Assignments and Class Activities

Instructors are experimenting with a variety of ways to include use of GenAI systems in their courses, including both classroom activities and assignments. Below are a few ideas to consider, including examples from UO instructors, and we also list a few ideas for those wanting to mitigate use of GenAI.

Examples from UO Instructors:
  • Instructor Kara Clevinger, English: Students use ChatGPT to foster critical literacy, argumentation, and writing. Specifically, they assess the strengths and weaknesses of ChatGPT-generated prose; consider how they would provide revision feedback on such prose (as if it were a classmate’s work); and then use AI text as a departure point for analysis and articulation of their own thesis and argument.  You can view Kara’s ChatGPT assignment activity here.
  • Professor Mattie Burkert, English: Students use ChatGPT as part of the essay writing process to learn best practices for when and how to use GenAI, including proper citation of AI-generated text. Students also reflect critically on the ethics and potential dangers of new technologies such as AI.  You can view Professor Burkert's midterm assignment here, plus read the article that inspired it.
Promoting analysis and critical thinking:
  • Ask students to draft a thesis statement and submit it to ChatGPT so that it uses the statement to generate a persuasive essay. Then, ask students to evaluate the essay according to the expectations outlined in the rubric. Where does the essay meet or fall short of the criteria in the rubric? As a key component of their evaluation, students are to assign the essay a grade and provide a written explanation of their decision that references the specific language in the rubric for support. Instructors teaching online looking to add a more personal, humanized touch can ask students to record a video in which they explain their evaluation. This assignment can be adapted to encourage student-to-student collaboration; organize students in small groups and task them with sharing their respective thesis statements with the goal of choosing one to be entered into ChatGPT. Upon entering the chosen thesis statement and generating an essay, members of the group work together to evaluate the essay according to the expectations outlined in the assignment rubric. Groups then share their findings with the whole class. 
  • Students can also practice analyzing and synthesizing texts using ChatGPT. For example, the instructor can task ChatGPT with generating a comparative essay that analyzes the gendered norms in “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin, and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Once the essay is generated, students can analyze its synthesis of the two stories and identify opportunities for improvement. Where might the essay’s argument be expanded or improved with more details from the stories or from researched support? In what ways is the essay’s argument or synthesis insightful and/or flawed? Do you find the essay’s synthesis to be persuasive? Why or why not? The activity can be adapted to multiple genres of texts as well as online formats. For example, an instructor teaching an online class could submit a ChatGPT essay to a social annotation tool like Hypothesis or Perusal, at which point students can use the annotation tool to discuss their thoughts and findings with their peers.  
Assisting research and brainstorming:
  • Use Chat GPT to generate a list of terms and concepts relevant to a particular text or topic. Students can use these terms as the first step in a multi-tiered research process. Which of the terms sparks your curiosity? Which of the terms seem essential to our understanding of this text, argument, or even their rhetorical and/or historical context? Which would you be interested in researching further and why? What types of sources do you think are best suited to defining or explaining a given term? In a supplemental step, students could also use ChatGPT to generate definitions and/or explanations of these key terms. After doing so, students could conduct their own research to fact-check the ChatGPT answers and even compare/contrast their findings with those of ChatGPT. 
Contributing to writing and revision:
  • ChatGPT can also be useful in supporting critical revision activities. For example, students can submit an essay rough draft to the AI and ask it to generate an outline of the essay. With the outline in hand, students can evaluate the organization of the outline or their essay with the goal of identifying opportunities to clarify key points or expand particular paragraphs or lines of thought. Students might also use the outline as a discursive map that helps them plan where in their essay they could address potential counterarguments or include researched support.  
Facilitating icebreakers:
  • Instructors can also turn to ChatGPT to construct engaging icebreakers that build community and illustrate the limits of AI-generated content. For instance, students can be paired with a partner or a small group of peers; each student or group is responsible for interviewing a peer and constructing a list of their “favorites.” What is your favorite book? What is your favorite memory? If you could only eat one ice cream flavor for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Once a short list of “favorites” has been drafted, students can input them into ChatGPT and ask the AI to describe the student’s personality. Students can either discuss the AI’s results as a group, noting what they find interesting and/or what the AI gets right and wrong, or they can present the AI’s conclusions – as well as their thoughts about those conclusions - to the class, either in-person or by using a Canvas discussion board. 
Mitigating use of GenAI:
  1. Have students reference course-specific moments and materials such as lectures, discussions, labs, notes, handouts, or sources not otherwise available on the internet 
  2. Have students respond to image-based or sound-based texts in your assignments, albeit be certain to include alt-text for accessibility.  
  3. Ask students to apply or connect personal experience and knowledge in relation to key concepts or topics. 
  4. Have students use social annotation tools such as Hypothes.is or Perusall to engage with texts. 
  5. Consider having students submit audio files, a podcast, a video, infographics, or other multimedia texts instead of written essays. 
  6. Chunk major assignments, such as essays, into multiple due dates for key steps, such as an outline, notes on sources, drafts, etc. 
You can find additional ideas for assignments and activities in this resource on ChatGPT Assignments to Use in Your Classroom Today, as well as this resource on Teaching with Text Generation Technologies.  Also consider this helpful decision tree for reviewing your course assignments, at the University of Michigan Course and Assignment (Re-)Design page.

Data Privacy and Security Considerations

UO Information Services reminds all faculty, staff, and students that: 

The University of Oregon does not have a contract with popular AI systems such as ChatGPT, Bard and DALL•E2, which would include the security compliance assessment of such systems to gauge whether they satisfy requirements associated with the university academic, operational, business and research needs. In addition, the privacy policies associated with the use of these systems, requires the users acknowledge that the data input into the AI system will remain a part of the environment. As such we recommend that users exercise caution when interacting with these systems, to avoid unintended release of intellectual property, copyrighted materials or trade secrets. 

We therefore strongly recommend that instructors who ask or encourage students to use any AI system remind students that they should avoid providing any personal or other sensitive data to AI prompts. We also advise that instructors consider making AI use voluntary or, if AI use is part of a required course assignment or activity, include an opt-out alternative for students who do not want to create an account with an AI system or interact with them. Such a recommendation is in alignment with UO’s policy on external vendor digital tools, for instance use of social media such as blogs as part of course assignments, which must include an option for students to keep their information and identities private.  

Tools and Resources

The following tools and resources can help instructors learn more about GenAI systems, how to use them, and better prepare for how they might address GenAI in their courses.

How to Cite GenAI
How to Prompt GenAI
  • AI Prompts for Teaching is a compendium of prompts that instructors can use to discern how GenAI would respond to their course assignments, materials, etc. It also includes prompts for how students can get GenAI feedback on various aspects of their work.
  • What is a Prompt Engineer? provides a basic conceptual introduction to prompts and prompt engineering, by Ramón Alvarado, UO Assistant Professor of Philosophy
What GenAI Is and How it Works
Helpful Articles