April 22, 2024

I’ve been thinking about how to shape my syllabus policy regarding AI generated writing, so of course I had to consult ChatGPT.

First I asked it to write a policy for the use of AI writing:


This policy defines the standards and expectations for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in college essays at [Institution].


The objective of this policy is to ensure that AI is used responsibly as an educational aid in the composition of college essays at [Institution], with respect for academic integrity, instructional quality, and protection of student data privacy.


This policy applies to any and all instances of AI use in college essays at [Institution]. AI tools and services include, but are not limited to, grammar and spell checkers, content generation tools, and plagiarism detection services.


1. AI tools and services must be used within the limits of academic integrity.

2. Students must not use AI services or tools to generate original content for their work, and must not plagiarize or misappropriate the work of others.

3. Students must take reasonable steps to ensure the security of their data in the use of AI tools and services.

4. Students must use AI tools and services responsibly and in accordance with applicable data privacy laws and institutional policies.

5. Students must use AI tools and services to the highest possible academic and instructional standards.

So vague, so many words with so little meaning. I do, however, like the line “must be used within the limits of academic integrity.” I just think my students would need me to define what I mean by that.

Next, I asked ChatGPT to write a syllabus policy for the use of ChatGPT material in college essays:

Syllabus Policy: Use of ChatGPT in College Essays

Course Name: [Course Name] Instructor: [Instructor’s Name] Semester: [Semester] Course Code: [Course Code]

I. Course Description: This course aims to develop critical thinking, research skills, and effective communication through the exploration and analysis of various topics in [Course Field]. As part of the coursework, students may utilize ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language model, for assistance with their college essays.

II. Purpose of ChatGPT Integration: The inclusion of ChatGPT in this course is intended to provide students with an additional resource to support their writing process. ChatGPT can be used to generate ideas, clarify concepts, and obtain suggestions for structuring and improving their college essays. It is important to note that ChatGPT should not be considered a substitute for students’ independent thinking and research skills, but rather a tool to supplement their efforts.

III. Guidelines for Using ChatGPT:

  1. Academic Integrity: All students are expected to adhere to the principles of academic integrity while using ChatGPT. Plagiarism or any form of dishonesty in presenting someone else’s work as their own is strictly prohibited.
  2. Responsible Use: Students should use ChatGPT responsibly and maintain control over their own writing. While it is acceptable to seek assistance from ChatGPT for generating ideas, grammar suggestions, or organizing thoughts, the final essay should reflect the student’s original thinking and voice.
  3. Collaboration and Feedback: Students are encouraged to collaborate with peers and seek feedback from their instructor and classmates during the writing process. However, it is essential to acknowledge and give credit to the contributions of others, including ChatGPT, in the appropriate manner.
  4. Citation and Referencing: When incorporating information or ideas obtained from ChatGPT into their essays, students must appropriately cite and reference the AI system. Clear guidelines will be provided regarding how to cite AI-generated content in accordance with academic standards.
  5. Critical Evaluation: Students should critically evaluate the responses provided by ChatGPT. While the AI system can offer valuable insights, it may occasionally produce inaccurate or irrelevant information. It is the students’ responsibility to discern the reliability and relevance of the suggestions provided and make informed decisions about their inclusion in their essays.

IV. Instructor Support and Monitoring: The instructor will be available to address any questions or concerns regarding the use of ChatGPT. The instructor may provide guidance on effective use, offer clarification on academic integrity, and assist in evaluating the suitability of suggestions provided by ChatGPT. The instructor may also monitor students’ engagement with ChatGPT to ensure compliance with the guidelines outlined in this policy.

V. Assessment and Grading: Students’ essays will be evaluated based on their originality, critical thinking, research, coherence, and overall quality of writing. The use of ChatGPT will not negatively impact the grading process as long as students adhere to the guidelines provided in this syllabus policy.

VI. Amendments to the Syllabus Policy: The instructor reserves the right to modify or update this syllabus policy as deemed necessary throughout the course. Any changes will be communicated to the students promptly.

By continuing with this course, students acknowledge that they have read, understood, and agree to adhere to the guidelines and policies outlined in this syllabus.

Note: This syllabus policy is a general framework, and it is important to consult with your course instructor to determine the specific guidelines and policies in place for the use of ChatGPT in your college essays.

Once again it contains so many words that the students will not read, and it is written in such generalized syllabusese. I do like “students are expected to maintain control over their own writing,” but I think I will go for the more direct “students are expected to do their own writing.” I also like the idea of requiring citations for anything that comes from an AI source. And I like the idea of reminding students that it’s okay to seek out initial ideas from a tool like this, as I have done in asking it for syllabus policy ideas, but from there the responsibility for the research and writing is their own.

I will probably stick with a few simple principles:

  • AI generated writing should only be used in an assignment with the express consent of the instructor.
  • Any AI generated writing included in an assignment should be cited as coming from the specific AI tool used.
  • AI generated writing, even with the consent of the instructor, should be contained to small percentages of the overall assignment. In general, that means no more than 10% of the overall writing should be AI generated.
  • Any AI generated writing used without the consent of the instructor, without citations, or in amounts that detract from the overall originality of the writing will be treated as academic dishonesty.

This is obviously a work in progress. Everything related to ChatGPT and other LLMs will be a work in progress for some time. Meanwhile, I will be interested in looking at real syllabus policies written by real colleagues.

Please feel free to take anything from this post to use in your own policies. Most of it is not my own writing anyway, but I’m happy to share the part that is.

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