Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research

Positive Uses for ChatGPT in the Higher Education Classroom

A person in front of a computer and also with a notebook

ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot launched in fall 2022 that uses natural language processing to produce human-like responses (Gruetzemacher, 2022). Users enter a prompt with directives for content, audience, and tone to receive a written product. ChatGPT can be used as a tool for creativity as well as an accommodation, and teaching approaches can utilize it to innovate teaching and learning. AI-powered tools such as ChatGPT may someday be as commonplace in writing courses as calculators are in math classes (McMurtrie, 2022).

Teaching Implications for ChatGPT

There are many ways that ChatGPT can be used innovatively to enhance teaching and learning in the higher education classroom. Instructors can use it to help students develop digital literacy and critical thinking skills (Mollick, 2023). For example, instructors can design writing assignments in which students actively analyze the tool’s strengths and limitations. By exploring the tool together, instructors can introduce students to the importance of ethics and the dangers of plagiarism in the writing process. 

ChatGPT can also complement active learning strategies. The popular active learning strategy, “Think-Pair-Share,” has been adapted and renamed by Dillard (2022) “Think-Pair-ChatGPT-Share.” Instead of thinking about a problem, then discussing with a partner, then sharing it, ChatGPT can be used to enhance peer discussion. ChatGPT can also be integrated into the drafting process in which students write the first draft and then use AI to edit it, or vice versa (Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools, n.d.).

Instructional strategies also exist to discourage ChatGPT use. For instance, writing prompts might make specific reference to class material such as discussions or other resources unique to the class (Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools, n.d.). Instructors could also assign more personalized writing in order to become familiar with students’ writing style and tone (Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools, n.d.). Additionally, citations can be required, and process can be incentivized over product (Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools, n.d.). Authentic and multimodal assignments may also discourage reliance on ChatGPT (Academics must collaborate to develop guidelines for ChatGPT, n.d.; Doug Holton, n.d.). Instructors can preemptively put their writing prompts into ChatGPT to avoid creating assignments that yield ChatGPT products that would be scored highly.

ChatGPT Can Be Used To...

  • Highlight relevant content in the course subject (Zhai, 2022)
  • Explain complex concepts simply (Tilili et al., 2023)
  • Summarize and outline longer texts (Kasneci et al., 2023)
  • Create formative assessments (Herft, 2023; Tilili et al., 2023).
  • Brainstorm assignment design of varying levels in the subject matter (Herft, 2023)
  • Generate examples so students can see how to approach the assignment (Herft, 2023)
  • Scan existing research against research questions (Kasneci et al., 2023)
  • Edit co-written group projects (Kasneci et al., 2023)
  • Create practice problems for learners to learn at their own pace (Kasneci et al., 2023)
  • Accommodate learners with visual impairment through speech-to-text or text-to-speech (Kasneci et al., 2023)
  • Add relevant tone and context for Autistic learners.
  • Enhance peer discussion (Think-Pair-ChatGPT-Share) (Dillard, 2022)
  • Edit a student-generated essay for tone, meaning, or word count (Georgetown)

Instructors Can...

  • Provide instruction on formulating questions to yield good answers
  • Assign meaningful and interesting writing tasks (Mills, 2023)
  • Teach and give feedback on the process of writing instead of the product (Mills, 2023)
  • Assess the demonstration of synthesis (Warner, 2022)
  • Focus course outcomes on creativity and critical thinking (Zhai, 2022)
  • Build critical thinking by asking students to analyze ChatGPT (Mollick, 2023)
  • Invite students to explore ChatGPT with you

ChatGPT Can Help Instructors...

  • Generate quiz questions (Tilili et al., 2023)
  • Draft lecture outlines and scripts (Tilili et al., 2023)
  • Write syllabi
  • Draft feedback on assignments
  • Narrate audio (Tilili et al., 2023)
  • Create visual aids
  • Make research predictions, spot outliers, visualize and prioritize data (Wu, 2022)

Designing ChatGPT into your syllabus

The first step toward incorporating AI technology into the higher education classroom is a transparent syllabus. A syllabus that provides guidance on proper utilization of technology can create a learning environment that is inclusive and supportive of both the student and the instructor. In practice, this might mean creating learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy for working with technologies such as ChatGPT. Syllabus verbiage can emphasize successful learning behaviors and strategies in general.

Instructors are implementing policies in syllabi that range from guiding ChatGPT use in academic work to limiting its use. Overarching guidelines around syllabus language include:

  • Setting clear guidelines for use of ChatGPT on assignments
  • Writing Blooms-aligned learning objectives specifically for ChatGPT
  • Being honest about the time assignments take
  • Offering a choice between AI and non-AI assignments

Resources for instructors

Authored March 29, 2023



Chat GPT and Artificial Intelligence Tools - cndls website. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2023, from

Dillard, S. [@dillardsarah]. (2022, December 5). Augmenting the think-pair-share with ChatGPT could be one of the biggest tech-enabled leaps in pedagogy [Tweet]. Twitter.

Doug Holton. (n.d.). EdTechDev - Doug Holton. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from

Freaking out about ChatGPT—part I. (n.d.). Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved March 26, 2023, from

Gruetzemacher, R., & Whittlestone, J. (2022). The transformative potential of artificial intelligence. Futures, 135, 102884.

Herft, A. (2023). A Teacher’s Prompt Guide to ChatGPT: Aligned with ’What Works Best’. CESE NSW "What Works Best in Practice.

Kasneci, E., Seßler, K., Küchemann, S., Bannert, M., Dementieva, D., Fischer, F., Gasser, U., Groh, G., Günnemann, S., Hüllermeier, E., Krusche, S., Kutyniok, G., Michaeli, T., Nerdel, C., Pfeffer, J., Poquet, O., Sailer, M., Schmidt, A., Seidel, T., … Kasneci, G. (2023). ChatGPT for good? On opportunities and challenges of large language models for education. Center for Open Science.

McMurtrie, B. (2022, December 13). AI and the future of undergraduate writing. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Mills, A.R. (2023, January 19). Seeing Past the Dazzle of ChatGPT. Inside Higher Ed.

Mills, A.R. (2023, March 23). ChatGPT just got better: What does that mean for our writing assignments? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved March 26 from

Mollick, E. R., & Mollick, L. (2023). Using AI to Implement Effective Teaching Strategies in Classrooms: Five Strategies, Including Prompts. Including Prompts (March 17, 2023).

Tlili, A., Shehata, B., Adarkwah, M. A., Bozkurt, A., Hickey, D. T., Huang, R., & Agyemang, B. (2023). What if the devil is my guardian angel: ChatGPT as a case study of using chatbots in education. Smart Learning Environments, 10(1).

Warner, J. (2022). Freaking Out About ChatGPT–Part I. Inside Higher Ed, 6.

Wu, Jo. F. (2022, September 8). Effective use of machine learning to empower your research. THE Campus Learn, Share, Connect.

‌ Zhai, X. (2022). ChatGPT user experience: Implications for education. SSRN Electronic Journal.