Teaching with Artificial Intelligence

This presentation and faculty conversation occurred on February 13, 2024.

Panel Presentation

This session explored how Melanie Haas (Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition) and Regina Luttrell (Public Relations) incorporated AI tools into their college writing and public relations courses. They shared their experiences with projects, ethical considerations, and lessons learned about integrating AI effectively.

Melanie Haas: Freshman Writing and AI Ethics

Professor Haas’s freshman writing course focused on artificial intelligence. Students completed three major writing projects exploring AI ethics, biases, and societal impacts.

  • Project 1: Defining Ethical AI Use: Initial drafts primarily focused on pros and cons rather than true ethical considerations. Students used ChatGPT to generate drafts, highlighting the importance of covering writing skills and revision strategies alongside AI use.
  • Project 2: Connecting AI to Autonomy and Power: Students read about inherent biases in AI and explored how these issues connect to concepts like autonomy and power.
  • Project 3: AI and Perpetuating Oppression: The final project challenged students to consider whether AI should be used at all, given its potential to perpetuate oppression and biases.

Regina Luttrell: AI in Public Relations

Professor Luttrell also presented on incorporating AI into her public relations course. Students tackled AI-powered ideation, article writing, and visual design challenges.

Key Findings from AI Integration:

  • Explicit Ethics Instruction is Crucial:  Professor Haas found that students needed clear instruction on ethical considerations before using AI for writing. Without this, they tended to focus on benefits and drawbacks rather than ethical implications.
  • AI-Generated Essays Require Attention:  Professor Haas noted that AI-generated essays often lacked quality, containing cliches and redundancy.
  • AI Detection Challenges:  Current detectors for AI-generated work proved unreliable, highlighting the need for alternative approaches.
  • Controversial Prompts Discourage AI Use:  Professor Haas observed that students were less likely to use AI for assignments with controversial prompts, as AI tools tend to avoid taking stances on sensitive topics.
  • Low-Stakes Assignments Promote Exploration:  Low-stakes assignments provided students with opportunities to develop ideas with less reliance on AI.
  • Confidence and Time Factors:  Professor Haas identified that students were more likely to use AI when feeling overwhelmed or lacking confidence in their writing abilities.
  • AI in Public Relations Capstone:  Professor Luttrell incorporated AI into her PR capstone course through assignments and an in-class “text prompt engineering hackathon.” Students worked in groups, utilizing AI for image and text generation to complete a marketing campaign.

The presentation concluded with faculty members raising questions about integrating AI into their own disciplines. These questions centered around addressing biases, potential job displacement due to AI, and developing human expertise alongside AI tools.

Question and Answer

The Q&A session focused on the challenges and opportunities presented by AI writing tools in academic settings. Here are the key takeaways:


  • Potential for plagiarism
    • Lack of critical thinking if misused
    • Difficulty in distinguishing acceptable from problematic AI tools

Potential Benefits and Solutions:

  • Targeted policies and open communication about AI use
    • Integration of AI tools into learning objectives, ensuring they support critical thinking development
    • Focus on teaching responsible AI use and critical evaluation of AI-generated content

Teaching with AI: Key Insights

The presenters offered valuable insights on teaching with AI and the associated challenges:

  • Establish Ground Rules: Clear expectations are essential, such as requiring students to highlight any AI-generated text in their work.
  • Hands-on Experience: Incorporate assignments and activities that utilize AI tools, such as ChatGPT for drafts or Stable Diffusion for visuals.
  • Bias Awareness: Discussions and readings on biases in AI are crucial for students to understand potential issues.
  • AI as a Supplement: AI should be used to enhance learning, not replace core skills like writing, critical thinking, and analysis.
  • Curriculum Adaptation: The curriculum and assignments may need to be adapted as AI capabilities continue to evolve.
  • Human Expertise Development: Despite the power of AI tools, fostering human expertise and skills remains crucial.
  • Ethical Use Through Assignments: Incorporate assignments that encourage students to consider ethical concepts like autonomy, agency, and power dynamics when using AI.

By sharing their experiences and practical tips, Professors Haas and Luttrell provided a comprehensive look at both the opportunities and challenges of integrating AI tools into education.