Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Teaching and Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Teaching and Learning

Table of Contents
The ISU Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching developed this resource to provide instructors with recommendations and best practices regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) in teaching and learning. This resource will remain a work in progress and will be updated as use cases and engagement with ChatGPT technology evolve.
ChatGPT Teaching Talk Series written in white lettering on a cardinal red banner with a group of students in the upper right corner

Teaching Talks: Interested in exploring more about AI in teaching and learning? Attend an upcoming talk in our ChatGPT Teaching Talk Series or review a previous one.

CELT-Help: For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss the implications of AI in your course, please get in touch with the CELT team at


ChatGPT is one of a broader set of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies capable of generating new content, including, but not limited to, text, writing and debugging code, and producing images and videos in response to user prompts. This product represents a major development in natural language processing, or the ability for a machine to respond with relative accuracy and fluency. There are limitations with the product, and users cannot rely on ChatGPT for the complete accuracy of the content. Although there are many other AI tools available, ChatGPT is currently garnering attention in higher education and other sectors because it is 1) relatively effective and 2) free for the time being.

Several disruptive technologies have historically impacted education (e.g., calculators, word processing software, the Internet, cell phones, etc.) Artificial intelligence is the next technology progression and will continue to evolve. As a university of science and technology, we develop, use, teach, and research new technology. And because of that, we want students to develop the ability to use technology responsibly and understand its advantages and limitations.

This newest advancement in AI has the potential to impact many existing policies and practices at Iowa State as well as norms and expectations within academia, such as: defining co-authorship; citation and contribution practices; plagiarism; and academic integrity. These examples are not an exhaustive list, and other issues will continue to emerge as technologies evolve. Refer to the Dean of Students Office summary of academic misconduct for an overview of the Iowa State University policy.

Guidance for Students: Syllabus and Assignment Recommendations

Students want to know your expectations for using AI tools in your course. Provide transparent information about your expectations and how these expectations align with course goals and scholarly values. Include information in the syllabus and on assignments, particularly if there is variability in when or how much AI use is allowable. As AI tools become increasingly embedded in existing technologies, students may be in situations where it is unclear how the use of the tool relates to your expectations of them. If the students are unsure, please ask them to contact you for clarification.

Sample syllabus or assignment language:

  • When content-generating AI is not allowed. This course assumes that all work submitted by a student will be generated by the student or as part of an assigned group. Any substantive portion of an assignment done by someone else, including AI-generated content, is not allowed and will be treated as academic misconduct.

  • When content-generating AI is allowed with appropriate attribution. In all academic work, the ideas and contributions of others must be appropriately acknowledged. AI tools, including ChatGPT, are permitted in this course for certain assignments, and specific instructions will be included with each assignment. When submitting work, students must clearly identify any writing, text, or media generated by AI. Students should indicate how AI tools informed their process and the final product, including how AI-generated citations were validated. Failure to properly acknowledge the AI-generated contributions will be treated as academic misconduct.

  • When content-generating AI use is allowed in limited instances. Students may use AI tools to help prepare for assignments and projects (e.g., to help with brainstorming, concept development, iterations of an idea, etc.). When submitting a final product for grading, students must indicate how AI tools informed their process and the final product, including how AI-generated citations were validated. Students are responsible for the accuracy of the generated content.

  • When content-generating AI use is encouraged broadly. Students are encouraged to use AI tools in this course. When submitting work, students must clearly identify any writing, text, or media generated by AI. Students are responsible for the accuracy of the generated content. Failure to properly acknowledge the AI-generated contributions will be treated as academic misconduct.

Assignment and Assessment Implications

Several strategies can be employed when developing assignments and assessments to help ensure students submit original work and discourage academic misconduct.

  • Clarify your objectives and scaffold the assignments. Identify the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities that each assignment is helping learners develop. Then build in scaffolding, requiring a proposal, outline, rough draft, and final draft as a part of the process. CELT’s Course Design Institute or Plan Your Course worksheet (docx) can aid instructors in this process.
  • Examine your course schedule and be flexible with due dates. Too many assignments, with too little turnaround time, can lead to students looking to take shortcuts, especially when coupled with stringent late policies. Use the Rice University Course Workload Estimator to assess the anticipated time investment of students and adjust due dates if needed.
  • Partner with an Iowa State librarian. Invite an ISU librarian to discuss information literacy and proper citation of AI tools in your course. The specific citation will depend on the citation format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) used in your course. For guidance, please contact your subject librarian, or email Jeff Kushkowski, Head of Instruction Services, at
  • Implement mitigation strategies. Consider using AI detectors, adapting existing assignments, or embracing AI to improve learning. The Berkeley Center for Teaching & Learning provides an excellent summary of “Opportunities and Threats of Using ChatGPT for Teaching and Learning.

Adapt Existing Assignments

Adapt existing assignments to discourage student use of AI tools. Review CELT’s suggested instructional strategies and consider which assignments might be revised to reduce the risk of academic misconduct. A few ideas are listed below.

  • Required References: Alter assignments to require students to reference a certain number of current events or recent articles that would not yet be included in the AI’s database.
  • Reflection: Require students to reflect on their research and writing process, what they learned from it, and how they would approach a similar task in the future.
  • Mind Maps: Have students create a visual ‘mind map’ to illustrate the connections between ideas, concepts, approaches, or theories.
  • Debates: Have students debate a major question or challenge. Even short debates can deepen learning and get students to look at topics from varied perspectives.
  • Written work tied to specific course materials: Design writing prompts that require careful analysis of multiple course materials specific to your class.

Embrace AI to Improve Learning

Note: When developing assignments and projects, it is essential to recognize that not all AI tools are designed for universal accessibility, which may limit their use for students.

If you are interested in experimenting with AI in your course, explore the assignment suggestions in Update Your Course Syllabus for chatGPT by Ryan Watkins and Understanding AI Writing Tools and their Uses for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley by Berkeley’s Center for Teaching & Learning. The examples below are adapted from those resources and provide methods to incorporate ChatGPT into your course assignments.

  • Prompt Competition (working in pairs or individually): Identify a major question or challenge that ChatGPT could write about. Ask students to create a rubric to assess the ChatGPT response, then judge the responses of other students and rank them based on a set of criteria.
  • Reflect and Improve: Identify a major question or challenge in your discipline and prompt ChatGPT to write about it. Ask students to reflect on the output (e.g., what is correct, what is incorrect, are there sections of the output where they don’t know if it is correct or incorrect, what should they look up elsewhere to verify, describe why they chose that resource as a reliable source of information, etc.). Have students edit the output using a ‘track changes’ feature to improve the ChatGPT response.

Use Caution if Applying Tools to Detect AI-generated Content

Similar to using TurnItIn software to detect plagiarism, there are tools designed to detect AI-generated content. However, it is important to note that there are limitations to using these tools, and there is no guarantee they are fully accurate. Further, their use may create an adversarial relationship with students and have other unintended consequences. A blog post by University of Mississippi instructor Marc Watkins describes this issue and shows examples of output from multiple detection tools.

The list below includes some of the tools currently available. (Note: Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of the product by Iowa State University.)


  • Center for Teaching and Learning. (2023). Understanding AI Writing Tools and their Uses for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley. University of California Berkeley.
  • Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation. (n.d.). ChatGPT. University of California at Irvine. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
  • Nature Editorial. (2023, January 24). Tools such as ChatGPT threaten transparent science; here are our ground rules for their use. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from doi:
  • SFCC Library. (2023). Faculty Help: ChatGPT’s Impact on Higher Education. Santa Fe Community College. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
  • Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing Podcast. (2022, December 7). ChatGPT, Explained: What to Know About OpenAI’s Chatbot [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
  • Watkins, M. (2022, December 14). Guest Post: AI Will Augment, Not Replace. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
  • Watkins, R. (2022, December 18). Update Your Course Syllabus for chatGPT. The Medium. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from