Nine months ago, The Atlantic ran an article entitled “The College Essay Is Dead,” identifying generative AI (GAI) as the cause. Most people who have used ChatGPT or other Large Language Model (LLM) chatbot will see why: these tools are very good at generating human-like texts. They have already fundamentally changed the way many students learn and the ways many students generate their written work. Other software products generate all manner of digital objects, from images to music.
Academic institutions have responded in many and differing ways, ranging from all-out bans to immediate curricular integration of GAI. Our campus has a new AI Working Group charged with providing recommendations for how we will adopt and adapt to GAI across the enterprise. The Working Group, co-chaired by Nir Kshetri (Department of Management) and Andrew Hamilton (Associate Vice Provost), has been charged by Provost Storrs and Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Terri Shelton to:
- Bring together a representative group of faculty and staff, including representatives from Faculty and Staff Senates, to identify needed policies or changes to existing policies, identify best practices, potential training, and other ways we can support our faculty, students, and staff.
- Make recommendations on policy changes by December 4.
- Solicit ideas from existing groups such as the Research Advisory Council, UTLC, and the Provost Council, in addition to others to inform recommendations.
- Keep campus informed of progress throughout the Fall 2023 semester.
- Provide guidance and support to faculty in their teaching and research endeavors given the AI tools available to all of us.
The Working Group meets regularly, and has, identified four broad areas of focus:
- Research Opportunities
Where are our strengths that might make us competitive for research grants? Where do we have significant contributions to make to the many conversations around generative AI in the literature or for advancing these technologies?
- Student Success
New research suggests that AI may present new pathways toward student success via tutoring and other learning/study aids. Indeed, many students seem to prefer AI tutors to humans. Are there ways for us to build AI into our existing learning support infrastructures?
- AI in The Teaching Environment
How do we use AI in ways that support learning and train students for their future career and scholarship needs? What are some best practices we can share with our peers? What are some practices to avoid? Do we have the right set of information and training available?
- AI Policy and Guidance
Students and faculty alike are seeking clarity on appropriate uses of AI in the production of academic work. Do we have the right policy guidance? In particular, do students have what they need to learn using AI without falling afoul of the Academic Integrity policy? Do faculty who use GAI in their scholarship and creative activities have useful guidance?
The Working Group is most urgently addressing issue #4 and will finalize a set of academic policy and student guidelines recommendations by the beginning of November, in an effort to better support faculty who are teaching spring courses. The Working Group will make further recommendations by December 4. The Working Group anticipates that its work, especially on issues #1 and #2, will continue through the Spring 2024 term. Discussions and recommendations will be approached collaboratively, in conversation with the relevant campus administrative offices and the Faculty Senate.
In addition to Kshetri and Hamilton, the Working Group is composed of:
Martin Andersen (Department of Economics)
Amy Brown (University Teaching and Learning Commons)
Ian Beatty (Physics and Astronomy)
Steve Cramer (UNCG Libraries: Research, Outreach, and Instruction)
Cristiane Damasceno (Communication Studies)
Kristie Davis-Collins (School of Nursing)
Casey Forrest (Information Technology Services)
Art Fridrich (Information Technology Services)
Ana Hontanilla (Languages, Literatures and Cultures)
Heather Moorefield Lang (Library and Information Science)
Maggie Murphy (UNCG Libraries: Art & Design)
Anita Warfford (College of Arts and Sciences)
The Working Group welcomes input from the campus community. Please feel free to contact co-chair Andrew Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.