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July 25, 2023 | View as Webpage | academicinnovation@mason.wm.edu

Integrating Generative AI In Your Syllabus

Generative AI can potentially change the way you teach, engage students, and design assessments. Welcome to our third edition of Innovation Insight where we explore just that and offer considerations for your syllabi.

We have taken our first steps by introducing generative AI and exploring how to use it effectively. Now we invite you to consider a new challenge: How might we integrate these powerful AI systems into our classrooms in a way that enhances learning while also maintaining academic integrity?

The possibilities are endless, yet they require thoughtful planning. Generative AI can be an incredible asset in the learning process, serving as a tool for students to generate new ideas, understand complex concepts, or even draft documents. However, its use should be structured and purposeful, to ensure that it augments rather than replaces the critical thinking and creativity that lie at the heart of education.

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One key decision is how and to what extent to incorporate generative AI into course assignments. Mason’s Generative AI Task Force has created content you may want to consider for your syllabus. This will help students understand how you expect them to use (or not use) generative AI in your course.

It's important to strike a balance between empowering learners to leverage these tools, while ensuring that they still engage deeply with the subject matter. In this issue, we will explore: 

  • Considerations for whether to require, allow, or restrict the use of generative AI in assignments;
  • The potential benefits and drawbacks of generative AI in teaching and learning;
  • Ethical implications; and
  • Suggestions to guide your decision-making process.

Preparing students is essential. Educating them about the strengths, limitations, and ethical implications of using generative AI can foster a responsible and informed approach. A component of your course could be dedicated to this, promoting open discussion about the role of AI in academia and in society at large.

Keep in mind that generative AI is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it may not be suited to every course or every assignment. As with all pedagogical decisions, its use should be guided by what will best support your learning objectives and enhance your students' overall educational experience.

As you move towards finalizing your syllabus for the upcoming semester, we urge you to contemplate these considerations. In the following sections, we will explore these topics more deeply and offer practical insights to assist you in your planning process. Our objective is to inspire you to reflect on the potential of generative AI in your classrooms, sparking deep and valuable conversations around the topic.


Mason Faculty

Virtual Office Hours

Thursdays 12:00 Noon

July 20 - August 24, 2023

Zoom link

Hosted by Academic Innovation, McLeod Business Library and Center for Online Learning. Browse to tinyurl.com/masonmeet/ and drop in Zoom to join the discussion.


from Mason's Generative AI Task Force

The following categories were built to aid Mason instructional faculty in communicating their policies to students about AI usage in their courses. We hope these categories will provide a degree of consistency across business programs. 

Developments in AI technology are advancing rapidly. Of note, it is anticipated that many software platforms (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite) will soon have AI embedded. Instructional faculty will need to remain vigilant and provide the degree of specificity on AI usage that best aligns with their course.

Category 1 – No AI Assistance

You may not receive help from any AI tools including editing applications (e.g., Grammarly), generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT), or AI tools integrated within software platforms (e.g., Microsoft Office). All work must be 100% your own. It is an honor code offense to use AI tools for assistance on this assignment in any way.


Category 2 – AI for Learning and Practice

You may use AI tools for learning and practice. This means you can use AI to learn concepts, practice problem-solving, and enhance your understanding of the course material. However, any work submitted for grading must be 100% your own and not the result of AI assistance (i.e., the final work produced must be solely your own). It is an honor code offense to submit work for grading that was produced with the aid of AI.


Category 3 – AI for Brainstorming Only

You may use AI tools on your assignments for brainstorming only. This means that you can use AI to generate some initial ideas or inspiration. However, you must not copy or submit any content produced by AI as your own work. You must clearly indicate in your citations when and how you used AI for brainstorming purposes. It is an honor code offense to use AI tools for more than brainstorming without explicit permission.


Category 4 – AI for Limited or Specific Tasks

You may use AI tools as outlined by your instructor in the assignment guidelines. You must clearly indicate in your citations when and how you used AI for these purposes, and you cannot use AI to generate or assist in generating content beyond that outlined in the assignment. It is an honor code offense to use AI tools for more than the strictly outlined tasks without explicit permission.

Instructor note: For Category 4, instructors must indicate the specific usage of AI permitted under this assignment category. Specific usage may include:

  • editing (e.g. Grammarly)
  • analyzing data
  • generating statistics
  • writing first draft of code
  • performing calculations
  • generating ideas
  • writing drafts
  • providing feedback
  • revising assignments
  • assisting in creating work

Print-friendly link: Student-Facing Syllabus Language on AI Usage

LIBRARY CORNER with Anna Milholland, McLeod Library

Generative AI has many applications and implications for students, including the need to build AI literacy skills and develop an ethical framework for leveraging generative AI tools in academic, work, and life settings. To that end, the McLeod Business Library – in concert with the William & Mary Libraries - created a self-paced AI Literacy, Research, and Publishing guide that will enable students to:

  • Understand the basics of AI and how generative AI tools work;
  • Determine if/when to use generative AI in academic coursework, research, and/or publishing;
  • Think critically about AI tools and purpose of content produced with generative AI;
  • Cite generative AI outputs as they contribute to coursework and/or research; and
  • Articulate the ethical implications and risks of using generative AI for content production and/or publication.

This dynamic resource, which will also include ungraded assessments to gauge knowledge retention and content engagement, is available at https://guides.libraries.wm.edu/GenerativeAI. We encourage you to refer students to this guide through a link in your Blackboard (Bb) course and/or syllabus. Alternatively, a Bb module with this content is also available; please contact Anna Milholland if you're interested in incorporating this into your Bb course.


ChatGPT: What Should Assessment Look Like Now?

  • How do you design assessments now that students can use ChatGPT?

  • What does "innovative authentic assessment" even mean?

  • Do I have to rewrite all my modules?

This online webinar looked to unearth the true meaning of authentic assessment and give attendees real life examples of assessment design that account for ChatGPT but still offer an accurate way to assess what a student has learned.

Speakers included: Jan McArthur, Lancaster University; Matthew Glanville, The International Baccalaureate; Dr Thomas Lancaster, Imperial College London and Chair of QAA’s Academic Integrity Advisory Group; and George Bryant-Aird, Edge Hill University

Sponsored by Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) of the UK as part of their series on ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence.


Update Your Course Syllabus for ChatGPT

By Ryan Watkins, Professor of Educational Technology Leadership, and Human-Technology Collaboration, at George Washington University in Washington DC.

Thinking About Assessment in the Time of Generative Artificial Intelligence

Columbia University shares some assessment ideas that can assist with academic integrity concerns that may arise with students using generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT, Bing, and Bard.

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