Unlocking the Potential of AI: Crafting Syllabus Statements and Assignment Language

A recent survey by Intelligent.com has shown that the adoption of generative AI tools such as Chat GPT has grown significantly among college students. In fact, 30% of students used Chat GPT for their academic work in the past academic year, and 78% of them would recommend AI tools to their peers. As educators, it is important for us to clearly communicate our own policies in the syllabus, taking into account the unique goals and needs of each discipline and course. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to syllabus statements on AI tools.

To make sure your students appropriately use AI tools in your course, we suggest you address the four questions in an AI statement in your syllabus: 

  • What are the roles of generative AI in the course?
  • What are the appropriate and inappropriate applications of AI tools for assignments and learning activities?
  • When should AI tools be used in the course?
  • What are the capabilities and drawbacks of AI tools?

Example of Syllabus Statements

The following provides examples of syllabus statements you could include in your syllabus so that your students clearly know where you stand regarding AI use in your course and what is considered acceptable use and unacceptable use of AI. Center for Teaching Excellence at Bryant University proposes that there are three types of statements faculty could consider including in their syllabus: 1) Statements that emphasize “some use,” 2) Statements that emphasize “all use,” 3) Statements that emphasize “no use.” The following example statements are adapted from the examples provided by Bryant University.

Example 1 – Some Use. I recognize that there are a variety of AI tools you can use to assist you in learning and completing coursework. During our class, we may use AI tools such as ChatGPT or Bing AI or Google Bard. You will be informed as to when, where, and how AI tools are permitted to be used. Any use outside of this permission will be considered a violation of FHSU’s academic honesty policy. Meanwhile, it should be clear that AI cannot replace human creativity, originality, and critical thinking.

Example 2 – All Use. All writing tools, including ChatGPT and Grammarly Go, are welcome in this course as long as you make clear when and how you use the tools. The attribution language could be like, “I created this paper with the assistance of ChatGPT. First, I asked ChatGPT to brainstorm ideas for the paper based on the requirements, then reviewed, added many of my perspectives and personal experiences, and revised the language to my liking.

Example 3 – No Use. I expect you to complete all assignments on your own in this course. It is considered cheating and constitutes a violation of the Student Conduct Code if you submit content generated by AI tools such as ChatGPT. You may not use AI tools to draft your assignments, even if you edit and revise them to your own liking.

Options for Syllabus Statements by The FHSU WAC Committee

The FHSU Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) committee provide three options for syllabus statements that give you an idea of how to write different types of syllabus statements. As technology and pedagogy advances, the committee will continue to develop syllabus statements. You feel free to revise/combine/adjust examples of syllabus statements provided by WAC.

Assignment Language Related to AI

Mollick et al. (December 13, 2022) argued that AI could improve learning by improving transfer, eliminating the illusion of explanatory depth, and training students to evaluate explanations critically.

Assignment Example 1: To help students transfer a concept covered in your course, you can provide an assignment in which students are asked to critique responses generated by AI regarding the applications of the concept of positive psychology. Instructions for this assignment could be as follows:

First, students type an AI prompt like this: please summarize the applications of the concept of positive psychology in different scenarios. Second, submit a paper in which students are asked to paste in the AI’s response, point out key aspects of the concept, explain what the AI gets right and wrong, and then provide the revised response to the prompt: the applications of the concept of positive psychology in different scenarios.

Assignment Example 2: To help students eliminate the illusion of explanatory depth in your course, you can provide assignments in which students are asked to examine the gaps in their knowledge about a topic and revise their own beliefs. Instructions for this assignment could be as follows:

First, students type an AI prompt like this: please explain the steps that we need to take to earn a master’s degree. Then, students review the steps generated by AI and do more research if needed. Students need to add at least one step (by telling AI to add one step and explaining what and why), delete one step (by telling AI to add one step and explaining what and why), and think about whether information in the response is incorrect or some information is missing, Finally, submit a paper in which students paste in the AI’s first and last list of steps generated by AI, corrections made by students, and explain what the AI missed in the initial response, what students learned in your research, and how students improved the list of steps.

Assignment Example 3: To help train students to evaluate explanations, you can provide assignments in which students are asked to give AI suggestions for improvements on an AI-generated essay. This process will help your students think critically about the AI-generated content and articulate their suggestions clearly. Students might need to do some research to peer review the AI-generated essay. In this assignment, AI act as a peer to students. Instructions for this assignment could be as follows:

First, students type an AI prompt like this: please write an essay about how to apply different learning theories in a college class. Then, submit a paper in which you paste in the AI’s initial essay, suggestions made by students, and the revised essay.

Provide guidance on AI Citations

In your assignment descriptions, you could provide your students with guidance on how to cite AI generated content. Since students might use AI in different ways, you could create your guidelines on AI citations by referring to APA style resources.

Example : OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat

Acceptable and Unacceptable Use of AI

When you allow your students to use AI in your course, you might want to specify acceptable and unacceptable use of AI in the syllabus and your assignment description. What students get from AI is crowdsourced information, not providing citations or references to reliable data or evidence. The paid version of ChatGPT might do better in providing correct citations. But students still need to be cautious about it. The following provides a list of acceptable and unacceptable applications of AI by referring to the ChatGPT syllabus statement guide provided by Temple University.


Mollick, Ethan R. and Mollick, Lilach, New Modes of Learning Enabled by AI Chatbots: Three Methods and Assignments (December 13, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4300783 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4300783

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