AI in the Classroom

The impacts of Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) on higher education is perhaps most greatly felt in the classroom, and AI only promises to have an even greater impacts as companies like Zoom, Canvas and Microsoft, develop AI features for their tools. Gen AI technology challenges our assumptions about the boundaries between human and machine capabilities, causing many to question whether our students’ critical reasoning, creativity and application of ideas are uniquely their own (see Oregon State’s Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy [PDF], which outlines the distinct human capabilities at each level of cognition). As a result, faculty must reconsider how they approach each facet of their courses to account for AI-- assignments, activities, policies, to name a few. 

Please read through this guide for ideas about how to engage your students in conversations and activities around AI as well as how to teach with AI.

Open book with a human glowing brain

Engaging Students

However you plan to address AI in your course, whether that is to disallow or incorporate AI, you should remain grounded in how students think and feel about AI and how they use it. For example, Chan & Hu (2023) found that students were concerned about data privacy, ethics and the impact of AI on their personal and professional development. These concerns stand in stark contrast to the all-too-common view that students are using AI dishonestly, and they show a need for instructors to discuss AI with their students.


  • Have conversations with your students about Academic Integrity at SF State throughout each semester and the impacts of honesty in your discipline of study.  

  • Emphasize to students how AI may or may not be used in your class. Consider adding a statement about Gen AI usage in your syllabus.

  • Encourage students to ask you questions about your Gen AI policy and additional questions about Gen AI usage throughout the term (University of Pittsburg, 2023). 

  • Discuss best practices in areas of authorship, attribution, intellectual property and how Gen AI can be inaccurate and biased. 

  • Consider discussing different areas where Gen AI may provide supports to students while still requiring them to develop their critical thinking skills to determine accuracies in their work; e.g., brainstorming ideas, getting immediate feedback on student writing, and gaining access to Gen AI multimedia (Chan & Hu, 2023). 

“One of the most effective ways to deter all forms of plagiarism, including illegitimate AI use, is to create student buy-in. ‘Buy-in’ means helping students understand the purpose and benefits of assignments.”  

- Jennifer S Trainor, CEETL Faculty Fellow and Professor of English

  • Do away with or de-emphasize busy-work; instead focus on assignments that are purposeful and connected to the course learning objectives 

  • Discuss the purpose of assignments and activities so that students know how they are connected to learning goals and their own development

  • Emphasize the process of learning by asking students to annotate their work, create drafts, and submit process notes; deconstructing assignments in these ways deter AI use

  • Engage students in knowledge creation by challenging them to apply learning to real-world cases and contexts, especially those that are connected to their lives

To see more suggestions for creating student buy-in, check out the AI Guidance Document.

Teaching with AI

There is not a single, right way to teach with AI. Teaching with AI should reflect your own values and interests with AI, especially as they are informed by your students’ thoughts around AI. It should also consider ethical concerns with AI such as the pedagogical appropriateness of the tool and students’ rights. Below we have outlined a few ways that you can approach teaching with AI, whether that is to deter AI or use it in your class. You can even use AI to prepare course materials! 



  • Become acquainted with and use a variety of AI tools and resources.

  • Consider if you would integrate AI tools in your own teaching practice and if so, how?

  • Prepare how you will discuss AI in your classes.

  • Share your encounters using AI with your students. What were some of the pros and cons that you experienced?

  • Accentuate AI ethics and student responsibility around using AI in learning.

  • Reflect if you would demonstrate how AI tools can be used to develop better understanding of texts, to build on rough drafts, and shape comprehension of complex processes (Darby, 2023).

There are at least three approaches instructors can take to designing syllabi policy statements on AI: prohibition, transparency and incorporation. These approaches are exemplified in the syllabi policies created by Jennifer S. Trainor, CEETL Faculty Fellow and Professor of English, for writing courses.

We recommend that in addition to crafting a syllabus policy, you engage students in discussing the ethics of AI and academic integrity and honesty.

Three Approaches to Syllabi Policy Statements (via Lance Eaton's Classroom Policies for AI Generative Tools Google Doc)


Sample syllabus policy: 

Writing is integral to thinking. Therefore, in this class, all writing must be your own. AI text-generating tools are prohibited.  

  • You are free to use spell check and grammar check.  

  • You may not use entire sentences or paragraphs suggested by AI without providing quotation marks and a citation, just as you would to any other source.  

  • You may not use text generators such as ChatGPT to search the internet for you. If you need information to complete an assignment, use resources such as Google Scholar or library databases. 

  • You may not have an AI program write a draft (either rough or final) of an assignment for you. 

Students who violate academic integrity policies may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

TWO: TRANSPARENCY (#19 and 22, adapted)

Sample syllabus policy: 

AI text generators derive their output from previously created texts and from other sources that the models were trained on. Thus, when you use it, you must cite it, and the sources it draws on. Not disclosing your sources, including AI tools, is a form of academic dishonesty.  

After each assignment, we will write process notes (or an acknowledgements page or methods section) describing the process you undertook in writing your essay, the rhetorical choices you made, including tools used, and analyzing how those choices affected your rhetorical goals. Process notes / acknowledgements pages / methods sections, work like source citation practices to increase your credibility as a writer and provide transparency for the reader. They also help you learn which writing processes work for you and why. 

Remember, you are responsible for the words, ideas, and knowledge under your byline, including content created by AI. AI tools can be an aid in the research and writing process. But they can contain misinformation, problematic simplifications, bias, and discriminatory language. Those problems become your problem when using AI in your writing. Being accountable for what comes after your byline means doing your best to make sure that your writing conforms to your own ethical standards, and it means being prepared to answer to readers for any problems you (or AI) may have created. Citing AI and being transparent about your use of it in your process notes is a way of taking responsibility.


Sample syllabus Policy:

In this class, we will have opportunities to explore and analyze AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Writers and academics routinely use a variety of tools to accomplish their intellectual, artistic, and professional work. Tools like ChatGPT are just that: tools, albeit new and powerful ones. Learning to use them responsibly, and to be critical of their limitations and the ideologies behind them, is an important part of your education.

At the beginning of the course, we will co-create a class agreement on the use of AI tools that ensures everyone who wishes to has equal access to such tools and knowledge of their benefits and limitations; everyone understands the appropriate use of them; and everyone is clear on policies and procedures for their use.

Our class agreement will begin with three assumptions: the first is about the importance of ethics in academic and professional contexts. Ethics means that writers must be transparent about and accountable for the words under their byline. We will learn strategies for being transparent throughout the semester. We will revisit the agreement and SF State’s academic integrity policies throughout the semester to ensure all students have a shared understanding of expectations and policies, and we will discuss how to align our use of technology with those policies. Ethics also means making sure our writing upholds principles of social justice, including linguistic justice.

A second assumption is that students are free to opt-out of using such technology at any time. Thus, no student is required to sign up for an account with an AI company. Assignments will always include options for students who prefer to opt-out.  

A third assumption is that writing is a means of inquiry, discovery, creativity, self-expression and learning; your voice, ideas, and learning must always come first.

You can use Gen AI in your classroom by:

  • Asking students to rewrite or critique a paper that AI produced 

  • Using AI to critique student writing and suggest revisions; ask students to analyze the suggestions: do they agree with them? Why/why not?

  • Asking students to use ChatGPT to come up with discussion questions and then having students rank and rewrite the questions as needed

  • Asking students to debate ChatGPT

  • Generating three solutions to a problem using AI and having students rank the solutions and provide reasoning about their ranking

  • Querying two different AI platforms to write a paper and then having students evaluate and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each paper

For those who would rather deter AI use, please review the AI Guidance Document Section One on creating Student Buy-In. Suggestions include emphasizing the purpose of assignments, breaking down and focusing on the step-by-step processes in completing assignments, connecting activities and assignments to students’ lives, holding students accountable to their own learning goals and more.

You can check how SF State Faculty teach with or about AI at this crowdsourced slide deck. We encourage you to join the conversation with other SF state faculty and share how you are using AI in your course by filling out a slide template and sending via email to

To date, AI detection tools are relatively inaccurate. Turnitin's AI-detection feature has a 4% false positive rate (Chechitelli, 2023). During AY 2022-2023 at SF State, over 86,000 assignments were run through Turnitin; with a 4% false positive rate, that means that nearly 3,500 assignments may have been falsely flagged as being AI-generated. And, AI detection is significantly faultier for English language learners. A recent study by computer scientists at Stanford showing that AI had a staggering ~60% false positive rate for papers written by English language learners (Liang et al., 2023; Myers, 2023).

Much of the recent discussion on AI in higher education has focused on student uses of AI, but there are many ways instructors can use AI to assist their own instruction. SF State English Professor Jennifer Trainor and CEETL staff suggest using AI to support your teaching in the following ways: 

  • Generating new activity ideas for a lesson you have taught before 

  • Generating a lesson plan based on your learning outcomes, which you could use as a first draft to build upon and modify

  • Creating ideas for an assessment, which you can then refine

  • Generating ideas for course development by asking AI to identify modules based on your course description

  • Generating ideas for discussion questions and inductive lessons

You can find more ideas in Dr. Cynthia Alby’s AI Prompts for Teaching: A Spellbook.