Writing and Artificial Intelligence

Three college students are working on a writing assignment. A robot is assisting them with their work.
“Three college students are working on a writing assignment. A robot is assisting them with their work.” Created from text prompt in Adobe Firefly, July 20, 2023

We’re including this guide to “Writing with AI” in Write What Matters because it’s clear that generative AI tools, including platforms such as ChatGPT, are beginning to transform what writing instruction looks like in higher education. As this emerging technology continues to reshape what it means to practice writing, there’s no real consensus on how these tools should be used—or  whether they should be used at all. Some students and faculty actively avoid generative AI in the classroom. Others are not yet familiar with the wide range of tools and capabilities available to students and instructors. And some are embracing these new tools and actively experimenting with them.

Regardless of how you are currently using or not using AI in your classroom, all of us are feeling the impact.

What this guide does not do

This guide does not offer suggestions for how students or educators should use large language models (LLMs)—such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, Microsoft Bing, or Claude’s Anthropic—in their writing process. As faculty ourselves, we understand the need to slow down and consider new tools critically. A deliberate and critical approach to generative AI is particularly important, since tools such as ChatGTP struggle with accuracy and hallucination, foster bias and censorship, and can easily become a substitute for thinking.

At this moment, most colleges are developing guidance or policies around AI use in the classroom. In addition, instructors may have careful wording in their course syllabus about what constitutes acceptable vs. non-acceptable uses of AI. Students should become familiar with their institution’s and instructor’s AI policies as they navigate the AI landscape.

For example, at the College of Western Idaho, school syllabi now include the following language:

Practicing academic integrity includes, but is not limited to, non-participation in the following behaviors: cheating, plagiarism, falsifying information, unauthorized collaboration, facilitating academic dishonesty, collusion with another person or entity to cheat, submission of work created by artificial intelligence tools as one’s own work, and violation of program policies and procedures.

Departments, instructors, and students will need to collectively decide how their specific “writing with AI” practices relate to this broad policy. For example, how should Quillbot’s paraphrasing and co-writing capabilities be classified? Should students be allowed to use Grammarly (or even Word’s build in grammar checker) to correct their grammar and syntax?

What this guide aims to do

The purpose of this guide is to offer an accessible introduction to writing with AI for dual enrollment and first-year college students. In the following chapters, students will:

  • understand how large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are trained to generate text;
  • understand the limitations, risks, and ethical considerations associated LLMs;
  • become acquainted with the range of AI platforms and applications that can assist writing;
  • better understand how to prompt LLM chatbots such as ChatGPT;
  • become familiar with how to cite and acknowledge the use of generative AI in the classroom.

Because this information is being presented to students within the context of a writing textbook, faculty who adapt this information may want to add to or revise this content so that it better fits their own academic discipline.

Updates to this textbook section

The practice of working and writing with AI is evolving rapidly. As soon as this section is published, it will be somewhat outdated. The affordance of OER, however, allows us to update this textbook more frequently than a traditional textbook. We intend to regularly maintain this section and will update as needed.


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Write What Matters Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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