12 Ways Instructors can use OpenAI to Transform Assessments

Students looking at assignment generated by AI on laptop

As we unravel the possibilities of how OpenAI ChatGPT can transform education and assessments going forward, the need to reimagine and redesign teaching and learning experiences is critical. While it might sound like a daunting task, this will allow instructors to revamp their assessments, make them more collaborative, and ask predictive questions that ChatGPT cannot answer (yet!).

In this article we will be covering the following:

  • What is OpenAI ChatGPT?
  • 4 Concerns that Instructors Fear
  • 7 Examples of how Instructors can use OpenAI ChatGPT
  • How can Instructors modify existing Assignments
  • 4 Ways OpenAI ChatGPT can Transform Higher Education

What is OpenAI ChatGPT?

OpenAI ChatGPT is a chat-based application that mimics a human conversationalist's ability to interpret and respond to user inputs. ChatGPT remembers previous prompts in the same conversation allowing for user personalization, be it for essay writing or composing music. 

4 Concerns that Instructors Fear

Incorporating new technology into current systems can be overwhelming. We saw this recently when ChatGPT was banned by the NYC Education Department, as authorities believed that the technology was not conducive to building skills essential for academic and lifelong success. While the following concerns are valid, they can be addressed with a change in approach.

1. Students will have ready-made answers

ChatGPT can provide most answers to student questions within seconds. Furthermore, students can facilitate conversations with the chatbot to expand their answers. This means that students can bypass complex questions that test their knowledge.

2. Students will assume the answers are correct

Many students assume that OpenAI draws from the internet as other AI assistants like Siri or Alexa do. However, ChatGPT constructs its answers based on the training it was given on text data. OpenAI acknowledges this limitation, remarking, “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.” 

3. Students won’t exercise their critical thinking skills

As students progress along the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy through high school and their higher education, their instructors are expected to challenge them with problems that encourage them to find innovative solutions. With quickly generated responses to formulate student answers within minutes, ChatGPT may veer students away from exercising their critical thinking skills.

4. Students will feel isolated in their learning environment

Constant access to information through technology may prevent us from making human connections. AI connections in place of human ones may increase isolation, social anxiety, and other mental health challenges.

Check out how peer assessment can address the fear of judgment among students.

ChatGPT prompt requesting list of teaching strategies
Source: OpenAI

7 Examples of how Instructors can use OpenAI ChatGPT

If students are finding shortcuts to doing their assignments with ChatGPT, instructors can leverage this technology to create better learning experiences. Let us look at some examples below:

1. Create Lesson Plans

ChatGPT has the potential to be utilized in creating lesson plans. By inputting course objectives and other parameters, the output can be used as a starting point for lesson plans or curriculum development.

Example: You could input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Create a lesson plan for a class of [student ability level] students that covers [concept being taught] and includes a variety of activities and assessments."

2. Create Assignments that test critical thinking skills

ChatGPT can provide prompts and questions that require students to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information, as well as make connections between different concepts and ideas. Generating open-ended questions can allow students to explore a topic in-depth and provide their own insights and perspectives, inviting them to test their critical thinking skills.

Example: Ask ChatGPT to generate written essays and ask students to critically evaluate and improve them.

3. Encourage students to be accountable for their learning

ChatGPT can be used to generate questions aligned with a student's learning objectives which can help instructors evaluate their understanding. It can be used to generate personalized feedback, which aids their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and takes ownership of their learning.

Example: You could input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Create a set of questions that students can use to reflect on their performance in [subject] based on the following submission and marking criteria and identify areas for improvement."

4. Regularly analyze data to monitor student progress

ChatGPT can analyze student progress through prompts for automated scoring with quizzes and assessments, data visualization of student data, providing personalized feedback, or even generating progress reports to view student performance over time.

Example: You could input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Create a set of questions that teachers can use to analyze data and identify strengths and gaps in student learning."

5. Provide opportunities for student engagement

ChatGPT can facilitate inquiry-based learning by prompting students to investigate a topic in-depth and to develop their questions, hypotheses, and theories. It can also engage students by creating interactive games and simulations that help student retention and connect their learning to real-world situations.

Example: You could input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Create a list of 5 teaching strategies that could be used to engage and challenge students of different ability levels in a lesson on [concept being taught]."

6. Develop better student-teacher relationships

ChatGPT can help teachers to understand their students better, communicate effectively, and build stronger relationships that support student learning and success. Using ChatGPT to interpret students' level of understanding can allow instructors to provide individualized support. 

Example: You could input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Generate a list of specific and actionable steps that a student can take to improve their performance in [subject/task]."

7. Design collaboration opportunities for students

ChatGPT can be used to generate discussion prompts that encourage students to share their thoughts and ideas while engaging in respectful and critical dialogue with their peers. It can be used to motivate inactive students to engage in peer assessment for better critical thinking and collaboration skills.

Example: You could Input the following prompt into ChatGPT: "Generate role descriptions for a group project on [subject/task].”

Watch Prof. Alex Gainer from the University of Alberta talk about how he modified his assignments.

How can Instructors modify existing Assignments

Instructor teaching students with hands raised in lecture hall

With ChatGPT becoming more widespread by the day, it's important that instructors learn to integrate it into their upcoming assessments.

1. Incorporate more research components

Large language processing models struggle with providing context and research to support their answers as they do not draw from the internet. ChatGPT does not have any data after 2021. Instructors could redesign their assignments to ask students to collect more recent data. Ask students to incorporate their research/resources into their work directly, along with in-text citations.

2. Try a new medium

Reframe assignments away from the traditional take-home writing exams or quizzes and engage with other types of content, such as verbal, video, or interactive assignments, which can help bypass ChatGPT’s text output. 

3. Ask students to explain their process

Rather than submitting only a final product, consider requesting students to document their workflow and explain the choices they made throughout their assignments as part of their assessment.

4. Reference readings or lectures as the basis for writing prompts

Ask students to expand from the sources set out by you, like referencing key concepts from their reading and knowledge from the class. ChatGPT’s prompts can generate ideas for students, but their course-specific knowledge can enhance their work.

5. Transition from lower-level to higher-level to Bloom's prompt 

The benefit of Bloom’s taxonomy in the classroom is that although systems like ChatGPT excel at explaining common concepts at the lower level, they lack specificity to help students produce coherent and accurate analyses required at the higher level.

ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for instructors to incorporate into their assessments and will be part of future lesson planning.

4 Ways OpenAI ChatGPT can Transform Higher Education

ChatGPT is powerful and has the potential to revolutionize higher education. It’s a step up from the first generation of AI by its natural and interactive approach to supporting learners and instructors. Let's take a look at some of the ways how below: 

1. Personalized Competency-based learning (PCBL)

Personalized competency-based learning is a paradigm of education that focuses on mastery for all students and helps them become agents of their own learning. ChatGPT enhances this by making it more personalized to students' learning levels so they can move on from material already mastered.

2. Coaching for teachers and students alike

Schools sometimes lack the resources and support that help teachers improve themselves as educators. Anyone can benefit from a great coach, and a virtual one can help all educators receive feedback and professional skill-building that is personalized.

3. Access to education

Quality education can be hard to access for some, and for those who have devices, AI tutors can help solve this challenge. Access to immediate support can help to limit and hopefully eliminate lost learning opportunities and expand student knowledge beyond the classroom.

4. Potentially help neurodivergent students

ChatGPT is adaptable and may be a good personalized aid for students experiencing difficulty with traditional educational models. It can help generate text ideas for those with conditions affecting writing abilities, generate practice conversations for students struggling with social interactions and even provide a less distracting environment for those affected by other sensory stimuli.

Use Kritik to assess critical thinking from ChatGPT assignments!

OpenAI is nothing to fear in the developing landscape of education and is a culturally responsive pedagogy to the advancements of technology. It is not a matter of preventing AI plagiarism but learning how to use it as an effective tool alongside other LMS

Schedule a demo with Kritik today to equip students with the critical thinking skills they need in the face of AI applications.

Ivansa Samararatne
Education Researcher