I asked the ChatGPT AI writing tool to answer a writing task I previously taught in my Introduction to Literature course: comparing Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus” to Sylvia Plath’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Shakespeare’s Village. ChatGPT’s answer wasn’t perfect, but it would have been good enough to get a decent rating.

Students may be tempted to use AI to complete assignments automatically because these machines are free, fast, and relatively good at imitating an academic style. Whether artificial intelligence advances education or destroys it, faculty members need effective methods to teach in a world with easy access to these powerful machines.

I have tried my hand at various AI programs as a faculty member and director of Writing Across the Curriculum. I may incorporate this technology into future courses, but for now, here are my 10 strategies that prevent students from using AI.

  1. Make a policy. Since AI writing programs are relatively new, students may not know if using them is acceptable. A good policy is simple and concise for students, and also gives teachers flexibility if they choose to include it in their curriculum. This is my current curriculum policy: “The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to produce writing for this course is not permitted unless otherwise directed by the instructor. If a student is found to have used AI-generated content for an assignment, that student may fail the assignment or course.”
  2. get acquainted Right now, ChatGPT is free to use and other programs have free trials. Take advantage and experiment. It’s easier to spot AI-generated content after working with one of these machines for a day. I’ve found that AI programs tend to respond to my typing prompts in a similar way. Save everything these programs write to compare it with the students’ writing. Such typewriters will continue to improve and become less obvious to humans, but until we have robust AI detectors or other methods, faculty members will have to rely on our own abilities.
  3. Take a class field trip. AI programs are not yet capable of writing from real-world observations. In one of my assignments, students have to incorporate an art object from the campus gallery into their writing. In another task, students describe interactions between people on campus. Students not only enjoy these experiences because it takes them out of the classroom, but there is currently no way for an AI writer to write such documents. You can also incorporate service learning into your course.
  4. Requires course-based research. Interviews, surveys, experiments, and observations are challenging for students, but virtually impossible for AI. Incorporating one or more of those activities into a writing task will frustrate AI programs. However, be careful. These machines are capable of writing false results. To counteract this, ask students to turn in any raw data or documentation as proof of their efforts.
  5. Unplug. This is the obvious one. Ask students to write short reflections and discussions in class with a pen or pencil. Without a connection to a device or the Internet, students cannot trust the AI. Consider saving hard copies that can be used to compare with what a student produces on a computer.
  6. Use the test center. Such hubs may not be the most inspiring spaces on a campus, but they can be a great place to focus and can prevent students from using AI. Contact your test center to plan what can be used for your writing, including the Internet, print articles, textbooks, and other materials. Students may even find that writing in a test center provides a more focused and less distracting space to complete their work. If you don’t have access to a testing center, consider setting aside writing time inside your classroom.
  7. Assign content behind the paywall. ChatGPT and its competitors were extensively trained in open access Internet content. By using paid materials, these programs will have a hard time producing meaningful responses from that content. Most campus libraries have access to paid content, including newspaper articles, magazines, journals, and even TV series or movies.
  8. Ask the student to show and tell. A proven method of encouraging students to learn how to do math with limited or even no help from a calculator is to ask them to show their own work. The same method can be used in courses with writing assignments. Ask students to submit raw drafts, marks, and any other material along with their finished work. Ask students to explain their writing process, which can be done in person or on a separate assignment. If you really want to, ask students to use a screen recording tool to show evidence of their process. Although a student might brag against some of these tactics, it makes relying solely on AI much more difficult.
  9. Send students to the files. Archival materials can be rich sources of inspiration for writing. Such materials include physical objects, documents, photographs, audio, and video. The National Archives is a great place to start with curriculum ideas, but many museums and libraries have collections that students can explore in person or online. Because footage can be unique and esoteric, it’s harder for AI to write.
  10. Ask students about their own work. Imagine that you are a student who decides to use ChatGPT to write a paper. Read through the document once to check for major issues, edit it slightly, and then submit. You show up to class the next day or the next week and they give you a quiz on your own work. Can you remember the main points? Fonts used? What about basic factual questions about your topic? Can you even remember the opening paragraph, the body paragraph, or the conclusion? Quizzing students on their own work is a tactic used by writing programs when students are suspected of submitting paid or plagiarized work. And while most teachers don’t like to use this method, it works.

Do you have other strategies to control how AI is used in your classroom? Let me know what you think. The more we share our experiences with these new emerging technologies, the better we can use them as tools to help our students learn more in our classrooms.