Writing With AI
students' use of Generative AI is inevitable in lab writing.
ChatGPT and other generative AI tools are very attractive due to their amazing ability to generate human-written-like text. Since ChatGPT's public launch in November 2022, millions of users have accessed this tool, and engineering students are no exception. Engineering lab instructors should provide a clear position on ChatGPT to their students.
Potential impact of ChatGPT on Students' lab writing
Faculty don’t need to discourage students from using ChatGPT. Instead, faculty need to provide clear guidelines about ChatGPT in the context of their labs. However, copying the content in total or in part from ChatGPT is plagiarism. Faculty need to strengthen their education on academic integrity.
ChatGPT can positively impact students' lab writing.
ChatGPT can provide positive aspects in writing, such as editing and error-proofing.
ChatGPT can provide general technical information, such as definitions of well-established terms and widely used technologies.
ChatGPT can inspire students’ own thinking and assist students in exploring ideas and technologies that they did not know otherwise.
Students need to critically review the content of ChatGPT before using it for their work.
ChatGPT can provide significant flaws due to a lack of understanding of the lab context. The content can be inaccurate, biased, and/or outdated.
ChatGPT's citation information and sources contain flaws.
ChatGPT cannot provide complex technical information applied to the local applications, which is often the case for the labs.
ChatGPT is limited to generating graphs and visuals and/or interpreting them, which are critical in lab writing.
ChatGPT will save and use any information including lab data or processes students prompt in ChatGPT. The information the student disclose in ChatGPT can be potentially accessible by others and cannot be controlled or retrieved by the student's institution. Users of Open AI should also be aware of Open AI usage policies (https://openai.com/policies/usage-policies). Faculty needs to check the institution's policies about Generative AI, such as ChatGPT.
Ask students to document their use of ChatGPT for their labs.
If students use a GenAI platform for their assignments, they must be transparent about that use and document what information provided to the platform.
Encourage students to understand that the work they submit must be their own.
Note to your students that they can become better writers than ChatGPT because they know the lab’s rhetorical situation (audience, writer, purpose, and context) much better.
Chat GPT guideline samples.
1. ChatGPT may assist you when writing labs; however, copying the content in total or in part from ChatGPT is plagiarism. The work you submit must be your own, not ChatGPT's.
2. You should understand the recurring flaws in ChatGPT content and the risks of using such content, such as inaccuracy, bias, obsolescence, and unclarity of origins.
3. You can use ChatGPT when writing the labs, you must document how you have used it after the conclusion section.
ChatGPT Guidelines of [Lab]
You are allowed to use ChatGPT to get help for writing your lab reports, with the following considerations:
What you submit is considered your work. That means you are responsible for anything that is in your report. So, don’t just copy and paste; review it before using it.
ChatGPT is good at:
Editing and error-proofing; Providing general technical information, such as definitions of technical terms; and Finding useful references and resources about a certain topic.
ChatGPT is NOT so good at:
Understanding the context of your lab experiment; Creating the same procedure as the one that was actually used in the lab; and Generating graphs.
ChatGPT sometimes does terrible things, such as:
Citing made up references that do not exist; and Providing incorrect information.
[Instructor Name]’s philosophy:
ChatGPT is a tool. Be familiar with any tool. Know its strengths and weaknesses.
Use ChatGPT to help your learning process, do not use it as a mean to get a product.
As we are all getting used to this new tool, I am asking for transparency (we document our prompts and include them in the Appendix), so we can establish guidelines in the future.
Here are some things to consider:
The conversation between you and GenAI cannot be copyrighted as your work, thus, if you copy and paste, it is considered plagiarism.
Make sure you do not plagiarize or violate any copyright (the output from GPT might be fictional or might be plagiarized)
Let’s together come up with mutually agreeable terms that we can try this term.
Syllabus policy on AI mark 1.0
Generative AI is a powerful tool, but it will never be able to answer the question, “What did I do today?” I aim to allow reasonable uses of AI to support the writing process as well as support grammar and spelling editing, but using it to generate the entire body of assignments is inappropriate.
This class is based around the concept of “writing to learn”--by virtue of writing about something, you will come to know it better. AI can’t replace this. You must do substantial original writing, no matter its quality, in order to learn this material. In particular, do not use AI to write personal reflections of any kind.
All use of generative AI (like Chat GPT) in this class must be extensively documented. For every assignment where you use one of these tools, please submit an attachment where you disclose every “prompt” you gave the AI (the text you typed in to get a result) as well as the entirety of the results it gave you.
Generative AI’s (GAI’s) such as ChatGPT can be useful tools for engineering students and for practicing engineers. Some examples of potential positive impact in report writing include:
may provide positive aspects in writing, such as editing and error-proofing.
may provide general technical information, such as definitions of well-established terms and widely used technologies.
may inspire students’ own thinking and assist students in exploring ideas and technologies that they did not know otherwise.
However, like any tool, when used improperly, may result in a negative impact. Engineers and students need to critically review the content of the generated output before using it for their work. Some common weaknesses include:
Reliance on GAI’s may greatly interfere with you developing your critical thinking skills!
may provide significant flaws due to a lack of understanding of the lab context. The content can be inaccurate, biased, and/or outdated.
citation information and sources often contain flaws.
Often fails to provide complex technical information applied to specific applications (which is often the case for engineering labs).
limited to generating graphs and visuals and/or interpreting them, which are critical in lab writing.
It does not understand the audience, the purpose, nor the context sufficiently well to write a professional report.
You may use generative AI’s to assist with report writing in this class. However,
You must be transparent about that use and document it. Immediately after the reference section of the report:
Identify which GAI’s were used
Include prompts you entered that produced useful results
briefly explain how you used output from the GAI’s
Example: the following prompt was entered into ChatGPT: “write a 1 to 2 page lab report in memo format for a tensile test lab”. ChatGPT produced a useful draft report. I rephrased wording and created all appropriate tables and graphs.
Bottom line: work you submit is YOUR WORK! You are responsible for achieving all learning objectives.
Use of generative AI (ChatGPT) to aid your lab writing
ChatGPT or other generative AI tools are very attractive due to their amazing ability to generate human-written-like text.
Since ChatGPT's public launch in November 2022, millions of users have accessed this tool, and engineering students are no exception.
Opportunities for ChatGPT in lab writing
Can provide writing help, such as editing and error-proofing.
Can provide general technical information, such as definitions of well-established terms and widely used technologies.
Can inspire your own thinking and assist you in exploring ideas and technologies that you did not know otherwise.
Hazards of ChatGPT in lab writing
Critically review the content of ChatGPT before using it in your work!
Can give you significant flaws due to a lack of understanding of the lab context. The content can be inaccurate, biased, and/or outdated.
Citation information and sources contain flaws.
Cannot provide complex technical information applied to the local applications, which is often the case for the labs.
Has a limited ability to generate graphs and visuals and/or interpret them, which are critical in lab writing.
Document your use of ChatGPT in your report
Be transparent about using ChatGPT and document it.
Even if you use ChatGPT, the work you submit must be your own!
You can be a better writer than ChatGPT because you know the lab’s rhetorical situation (audience, writer, purpose, and context) much better.
Sidney I. Dobrin, Talking aobut Generative AI: A guide for educators, version 1.0, Broadview Press. ISBN 978-1-55-481650-7
Eva A M van Dis, Johan Bollen, Willem Zuidema, Robert van Rooij, Claudi L Bockting, ChatGPT: five priorities for research, Nature, 2023 Feb; 614(7947):224-226. doi: 10.1038/d41586-023-00288-7.
Teaching Guidance for ChatGPT and Related AI Developments https://senate.ucla.edu/news/teaching-guidance-chatgpt-and-related-ai-developments
Calculating the Future of Writing in the Face of AI. https://cmsw.mit.edu/advice-and-responses-from-faculty-on-chatgpt-and-a-i-assisted-writing/