ChatGPTeach: Assignment Ideas for the Age of AI

Over the past year, ChatGPT has been making waves in the world of online education, creating a bit of a stir as educators and students grapple with the idea of introducing artificial intelligence into the virtual classroom. Initially met with a mix of curiosity and hesitation, the sentiment surrounding ChatGPT has undergone a noticeable shift. What was once viewed with trepidation has recently transformed into enthusiasm.

Today, some of the most trailblazing instructors in the world lead the charge to find inventive ways to incorporate this AI tool throughout the learning process. By breaking down the complexities and fears associated with AI integration, educators can explore turning this disruptive force into an opportunity for educational innovation. 

Portrait of a woman on a video call with laptop and headphones while working from home.
Image by Freepik

Assignment Types

Educators worldwide have found many creative ways to use ChatGPT in their courses that address a variety of different scenarios. In order to make these ideas as approachable as possible, we will take a collection of these assignments and break them into three categories, each describing a different type of student submission: 

  • Type 1 (Doc) — A completed document (assignment, essay, etc.) where ChatGPT was used to research, revise, refine, and complete drafts 
  • Type 2 (Speech) — A presentation, debate, performance, or speech where ChatGPT was used for a set amount of time to research and prepare 
  • Type 3 (Chat) — A transcript of an entire chat with ChatGPT 

Type 1 Assignments 

  1. Submit an argumentative essay where you make the best possible argument you can for an opinion or belief you do not hold, using ChatGPT as one of your resources. Then analyze the evidence used in the essay. (Type 1) 
  1. Submit a list of examples where a concept gone over in class may show up in real life, either in a contemporary manner or across history, and explain your reasoning. Use ChatGPT as a resource. (Type 1) 
  1. Submit a critical evaluation of ChatGPT’s response to a question or prompt. (Type 1) 

Type 2 Assignments 

  1. Give students a topic for an in-class discussion and let them prepare for 10-20 minutes using ChatGPT. (Type 2) 
  1. Challenge students to win an in-class debate against each other with a random topic and 5 minutes to prepare using ChatGPT. (Type 2) 
  1. Have students perform a song, poem, monologue, or speech on a course topic that they wrote using ChatGPT. (Type 2) 

Type 3 Assignments 

  1. Provide ChatGPT with a pre-written piece, then prompt it to transform the piece (“turn my essay into a song,” “take this script and rewrite it from the perspective of the main character’s wife,” etc.), then review the quality of its changes. (Type 3) 
  1. Provide ChatGPT with a concept, then prompt it to generate three applications of that concept. Review what it created and find any flaws in its depiction of the concept. (Type 3) 
  1. Engage in a debate with ChatGPT about climate change. Minimum of 10 prompts in the chat. (Type 3) 
  1. Complete a 5-question interview with ChatGPT responding as Albert Einstein. Make sure to follow proper prompt engineering rules. (Type 3) 
  1. Provide ChatGPT with an advanced concept (quantum computing, chaos theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, etc.) and prompt it to explain the concept as if you were a fifth grader. Review its response for flaws, then explain how they could be fixed without making the explanation more complex. (Type 3)  

There are many other assignment options out there, and more are being created by teachers every day. However, there are some key principles to keep in mind: you will want to add a reflection component to a ChatGPT assignment where students can describe what their experience was like using the tool. This is one of the important ways we can track the learning experience of students and get a better understanding of how well they understood the assignment. 

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Image by Freepik

Harnessing ChatGPT

ChatGPT provides instructors with a new way to challenge students and reveal their level of mastery. I encourage educators to create or adopt assignments that will help find the gaps in students’ understanding of core concepts. Push students to explain every step of their reasoning so that later they can build on what they know. As Dr. Sean Nufer says, “if we are teaching out students to write like robots, we cannot be surprised when robots can complete their assignments.” 

Now more than ever, it is of the utmost importance that we are always finding a way to reward the process of learning for our students. There are many people who feel that ChatGPT has ruined the learning experience, but many more are beginning to believe that it has revealed some flaws in our teaching. A history of heavy reliance on multiple-choice quizzes and 10-page essays will make it difficult for some to adapt, but those who make the jump into AI assignments will find that they are engaging their students in a completely new way, which will lead to unforgettable learning experiences for those students, and a sense of comfort with tools that will become essential in their future careers. 

Kieron Williams is an Instructional Design Consultant at FIU Online. He helps faculty reimagine their courses using innovative course tools and pedagogical frameworks to inspire and engage their students. Outside of instructional design, he loves to play tabletop RPGs and cook for his friends and family. Kieron is most passionate about the power of storytelling; specifically its ability to transform the lives of people and culture.

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