I started teaching before the advent of personal computers or the internet, so I’ve had to adapt over the years. ChatGPT and similar AI are worrisome, but it’s fruitless to tell my graduate students they can’t use it all. Like other tools, it can be used in good and bad ways. I’d like students to use it in ways that promote rather than substitute for learning. So here’s what I tell them:
Don’t ask ChatGPT to write for you—you’d be asking the bot to do your thinking, it would constitute academic dishonesty, and it will do a bad job anyway. Instead, write the best draft you can and ask ChatGPT how you could make it better. ChatGPT’s advice will be fairly generic, but coaching on writing is something many students need. This year’s Spring semester was the first time ChatGPT was out in the wild, and I saw fewer unreadable sentences and papers that seemed to have no idea where they were going. Anything that reduces the amount of bad writing that my students produce can’t be all bad.
Lee Bolman is a Brookline resident and an instructor in the Division of Continuing Education at Harvard University.