AI Statements for Course Syllabi

Instructors are encouraged to share their expectations regarding students’ use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools both at the beginning of a course and throughout the semester. Instructors may choose to communicate their expectations to students in a variety of ways such as via their syllabi, in Canvas and during course discussions and activities. Clearly communicating these expectations early and often helps to promote academic integrity and prevent confusion.

Below, instructors can find possible approaches to consider and sample syllabus statements that may be adapted for their own use.

Questions or Examples?

If you have questions about AI statements for course syllabi or would like to share a sample statement of your own, please submit via this form.

Possible Approaches and Basic Sample Statements

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Allow AI with documentation and citation

“You are welcome to use artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications (such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, etc.) in this class as they support the learning objectives of this course. Please be aware you are responsible for the information you submit based on an AI query (i.e. ensure your professor has allowed you to publicly post course content such as assignment or assessment prompts and that the AI generated results do not contain misinformation or unethical content). Your use of AI tools must be documented and cited to conform to this course’s expectations.”

If using this option, it is important to explain the steps students should follow – for example, how to cite work and whether students should turn in, or at least retain, chat transcripts. Encourage students to contact you with questions or concerns.

Allow AI in certain circumstances

“We may use artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications (such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, etc.) in some circumstances in this course as they support the course learning objectives. The specifics of when, where and how these tools are permitted will be included with each assignment, along with guidance for attribution. Any use of these tools other than where indicated is a violation of this course’s expectations and will be addressed through UW–Madison’s academic misconduct policy, specifically UWS 14.03(1)b (b) Uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise.”

If using this option, it is important to explain the steps students should follow – for example, how to cite work and whether students should turn in, or at least retain, chat transcripts. Encourage students to contact you with questions or concerns.

Prohibit AI unless specified otherwise by the instructor

“The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications (including, but not limited to, ChatGPT, DALL-E, and others) for course assignments and assessments does not support the learning objectives of this course and is prohibited. Using them in any way for this course is a violation of the course’s expectations and will be addressed through UW–Madison’s academic misconduct policy, specifically UWS 14.03(1)b (b) Uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise.”

If using this option, it is important to explain to students why AI is prohibited in the context of what they are learning, or are expected to learn, in the course.

UW–Madison Sample Statements

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Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Psychology, College of Letters & Science

All students are required to commit to the following statement: “I know that in this course I can use ChatGPT (and other AI models), but I must always apply critical thinking to anything ChatGPT (or other AI models) tell me AND I must always make a Gradebook Comment (not a Discussion Board post, but a Gradebook Comment) telling the instructor and TAs whenever I have used ChatGPT (or other AI models) and how I have used them.

Laura Grossenbacher, Technical Communication Program, College of Engineering

ChatGPT and other Large Language Models have become disruptors in the space of authenticity and attribution: We will be attempting to understand and even embrace the advent of text generators, exploring how they can help us learn more and write better. However, I am aware of the challenges: if you rely on a bot to write a significant part of your paper, that is not exactly the same as “copying from someone else” — you aren’t taking credit for any other specific person’s ideas, but you are benefiting from the collected and assimilated ideas that have been scraped from the “hive mind.” That hive mind is made up of untold numbers of texts that have been used to train the bot. Some training materials have been used without the permission of the original authors, and at times it could be that the bot has been trained on material that is non-verifiable and deeply flawed. When you use a bot to do your writing, you aren’t providing your own original ideas, either.

We’ll talk about how and when to use text generators like ChatGPT in this class. There are productive ways to use it to help (with both idea generation and with editing) that I will allow and in fact encourage, but this class is going to focus on your efforts to research, understand, synthesize, organize, evaluate, and ultimately write your own unique work. Use the class to develop your own writing, rather than seeking ways to avoid developing and educating yourself. You will know your technical projects better — and be able to speak publicly about those projects in a much more credible manner — if you’ve committed to the challenge of writing your own work. When you DO decide to use a text generator in some limited way, I will expect you to provide a detailed footnote or Appendix describing how and approximately where it was used in your work. Of course, my expectation will be that you’ve used it in a strategic and limited way, which we will discuss in class in more detail.

Nathan Jung, Technical Communication Program, College of Engineering

While we will have in-class workshops on responsible uses of AI text generation, and while all assignment prompts will have specific AI guidelines, it is also important to discuss the general approach to AI adopted in this class.

I work from three core assumptions: first, many of you use applications like ChatGPT, and will continue to use them in the future, professionally and otherwise. Second, these applications have some legitimate utility. And third, these applications have some significant liabilities.

Given these realities, one of the core learning objectives for this class is to develop your capacity to responsibly use AI text generation both now and moving forward.

Here are some key thoughts on AI text generation that I believe must be balanced in any “responsible use” of AI in this course and elsewhere:

AI text generators are sources, just like websites or other sources, and they should be treated as such. Transparency is the key here – always make sure readers know how and where you are getting your information. This can be done in an acknowledgments section, a methods section, in the body text, and/or through direct quotation/citation.

Writing is cognitively valuable. If you have someone else do pushups for you, you will not get the muscles. If you want the muscles, you need to do the pushups yourself. The same goes for writing. Research shows that it is critical for professional identity formation!

That said, lots of writing is formulaic and template-driven, and there is no intrinsic problem with using relevant models from AI text generators or elsewhere as a starting point.

This course emphasizes argumentation, localization, and audience – all of which require good decision-making practices on the part of the writer. AI cannot make good decisions – about writing or about anything, really – without good prompts from the writer.

AI text generators will steal anything you put into them, which limits their professional use.

In brief, in this course, you will learn to work WITH algorithmic writing applications – to verify their content, to adapt and paraphrase and quote as appropriate, and to use this instance as an opportunity to think more broadly about AI’s potential impacts on our personal and professional lives.

If I intuit that AI text generators are negatively affecting your writing – by making it too boilerplate, for example – we will have a conversation about how you have used them and how you might use them better in the future.

And if you have questions about whether a particular use of algorithmic writing is acceptable, bring the question to me after class, during class, over email, or during office hours. I’m actively seeking them!

Jeremy Morris, Communication Arts, College of Letters & Science

ChatGPT and other AI/Large Language Models (LLMs)

As we’ll learn in this class, new technologies rarely replace old ones; they co-evolve and co-exist. So, until AI robots fully replace us, this class aims to teach you how to critically analyze, think about, and work with a variety of technologies, including ChatGPT and other AI. Some assignments and activities will explicitly ask you to use ChatGPT while others may forbid it. For each assignment, we will provide a statement about how/when AI might be used, and what it might be used for, like idea generation, writing assistance, fact finding, etc. (though no assignment will *require* it). The most important thing is to be transparent and ethical about your use of LLMs, since AI raises issues of intellectual property, academic integrity, misinformation and more. Just as the links to YouTube videos you use in your projects or citations of Wikipedia and academic articles allow us to assess where you sourced your information from, including a statement about where and how you used AI during your assignments helps us see the work you’ve done (e.g. prompt engineering, collaborative writing, idea generation, etc.). Example statements will be provided at the start of the semester. And as with the other sources you use for your writing and projects, you are solely responsible for the quality, accuracy, legality and validity of the content of anything you submit.

Peer Institution Sample Statements

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Lisa Messeri, Yale University

Given the topic of this seminar (Anthropology – Technology and Culture), you may experiment with ChatGPT in your assignments. While there will be a week in the course where we directly address generative AI, should you want to play with it beforehand, please follow these general guidelines. For any part of your assignment where you use ChatGPT or a different AI assistant, add a footnote and explain how you used it, why you used it, and whether it was helpful or not (see example below in “A Word About Academic Honesty”). Please be alert to the fact that while answers might sound authoritative, there is nothing on the backend of this technology (other than you) that fact checks the results.

Ryan Gagnon, Clemson University (adapted version)

Artificial Intelligence Policy: Are all of our classes now AI classes?

I expect you to use AI (e.g., ChatGPT, Dall-e-2) in this class (Advanced Quantitative Analyses). In fact, some assignments will require it. Learning to use AI is an emerging skill, and I will provide basic tutorials about how to leverage it for our work. However, be aware of the limits of these software systems:

AI is vulnerable to discrimination because it can inadvertently (or intentionally) perpetuate existing biases present in the data it is trained on.

AI can be a valuable tool for augmenting human decision-making and critical thinking, but it is not a replacement. AI is a tool, just like a pencil or a computer. However, unlike most tools you need to acknowledge using it. Pay close attention to whatever information you use in your own work that is produced from Ai, and explain how/what you used at the end of assignments.

Note…some of this was written with Ai; OpenAI. (2021). GPT-3 API. Retrieved from https://beta.openai.com/docs/api-reference/introduction