Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

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Alice Keeler

Leveraging ChatGPT to Support Students

Exploring the role of artificial intelligence in education, practical advice and numerous suggestions on leveraging ChatGPT to support students, particularly English learners. Showcasing how students can harness the power of ChatGPT for essential academic tasks such as grammar checks, spelling corrections, understanding idiomatic expressions, and obtaining feedback on their writing's tone and style. By providing an exhaustive list of prompts, it paves the way for effective interactions with the AI, ensuring a learning experience that respects and preserves the student's original ideas and efforts.
Leveraging ChatGPT to Support Students

My husband and I have been invited to provide a presentation to assist university tutors working with migrant students, focusing on the innovative use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Our aim is to not only explore ways to support students via AI but also guide them on how to properly use generative AI without inadvertently committing plagiarism. Here are some of the tips that we will share that might be helpful for you to use with your students on leveraging ChatGPT to support students.

ChatGPT and Google Bard

Everyday new AI tools pop up. ChatGPT, and it’s Google equivalent Bard, get the most attention. Before assuming that students know what these tools are be proactive to demonstrate them to students.

Asking a ChatBot to complete the assignment prompt is cheating.

Engage your students in a dialogue on why instructing ChatGPT to “compose an essay on the causes of the American Revolution” could be considered as academic dishonesty. The perspective shifts when we compare this to a business scenario where an executive needs to be informed about a subject they’re unfamiliar with. In such a case, the aim is for the final product to educate the recipient. However, within a classroom setting, the teacher is already knowledgeable about the topic. The purpose of the assignment isn’t for the student to enlighten the teacher, but rather for the teacher to gauge the student’s understanding of the subject matter.

Compare and Contrast

Have students compare and contrast their writing with that of ChatGPT. What do they notice about how ChatGPT responds and their own response?

Ask students to observe the structure and style of both their writing and the AI’s output. How does the sentence structure vary? What about the choice of vocabulary? Are there noticeable differences in the level of formality or informality? What about the overall tone and voice?

Students should also consider how their emotions and personal experiences influence their writing, something that AI lacks. Do they notice these elements missing in the AI’s output? How does this absence affect the overall feel of the writing? How could the response include their personal connections to make the work uniquely their own?

There is a lot to learn from how ChatGPT responds to a prompt. It always includes the original prompt and provides supporting details. Having students analyze the quality of the outputs can help them to remember to include transition words and elaborate their reasoning.

Does it Look Like Generative AI?

There is going to be a significant difference in the style, word choice, and level of detail between a Generative AI response and a student’s response.

Something I do a lot is take a paragraph I have written and put it into ChatGPT and ask it to rewrite it. These are fully my ideas. ChatGPT is helping me spend less time trying to clean up the wording. However, my 3 sentences are transformed into 20. It has an abundance of transition words that are not characteristic of my writing style.

Before submitting work, teach students to ask “Would someone suspect I used ChatGPT for this?” If the student is unsure, then the work possibly replies too much on Generative AI.

Indicators That ChatGPT Did the Work

I asked ChatGPT for a list of indicators that a teacher might look for when suspecting that Generative AI did the work. Students can use this as a checklist before submitting their work to validate that the work is indeed their own even if they used ChatGPT as their tutor. I of course analyzed the output, eliminated repetitive suggestions, and removed items that I did not agree with or had limited relevance.

  1. Uncharacteristic Vocabulary: If a student starts using complex or sophisticated words that they have not previously demonstrated knowledge of, this might be a sign of AI use.
  2. Sudden Change in Writing Style: A significant shift in writing style, tone, or structure, especially one that is not aligned with the learning progress of the student, can be an indication.
  3. Lack of Personal Insight or Perspective: AI-generated content might lack personal insight, context, or a unique perspective that would be expected from a student’s assignment.
  4. Perfect Grammar and Syntax: While students can certainly produce error-free assignments, perfect grammar and syntax in every single assignment, especially from students who previously struggled with such issues, can be a telltale sign.
  5. Overly Complex Sentences: Generative AI can sometimes produce very complex sentences that a student of a certain age or grade level would not typically construct.
  6. Absence of Mistakes: It’s normal for students to make occasional mistakes. If an assignment is flawless and lacks any of the usual slip-ups a student might make, it could be AI-generated.
  7. Non-Sequitur Statements: AI can sometimes introduce irrelevant or loosely connected information. If an essay includes oddly out-of-place or disjointed statements, it could be due to AI generation.
  8. Excessive Detail or Unnecessary Information: If a student’s assignment includes an unusual amount of detail or delves into topics that aren’t entirely relevant, this could indicate AI use.
  9. Consistency with Known AI Outputs: Teachers who familiarize themselves with the common outputs of popular AI tools may recognize similar phrasings, structures, or tendencies in a student’s work.
  10. Unexpectedly High-Level Content: If the content of an assignment is surprisingly advanced or scholarly for the student’s grade level, it could indicate AI assistance.
  11. Generic Phrasing: AI models might use generic or non-specific language more frequently than a student would.
  12. Unnecessary Length: Generative AI can produce lengthy responses that are more detailed than necessary. If an assignment is significantly longer than required without adding substantial value, it may have been AI-assisted.

It’s crucial to remember that these are just potential indicators. If a teacher suspects AI use, it’s important to have a constructive conversation with the student before drawing any conclusions.

Is It Cheating?

Before Generative AI it was perfectly acceptable to brainstorm with a partner. To have someone suggest ideas and topics for your assignment. It was acceptable to ask a friend to edit your paper and give suggestions. Using Generative AI in these ways should be no different than asking a friend.

However, when I ask a friend typically one does not ask them to write the paper for you and you turn it in as your own work. That was cheating and in the same way doing this with Generative AI is cheating.

If a student submits work the purpose of the work was to allow the teacher to assess what the student knows and is capable of. Not to complete an assignment. If after submitting their work, students should feel confident to be able to discuss the topic with the instructor and to make rational arguments based on what they know.

Using ChatGPT as a Tutor

AI tools like ChatGPT can serve as powerful allies for students, especially for those whose first language isn’t English. These AI platforms can help enhance learning, improve language skills, and navigate the complexities of college coursework. However, using such tools responsibly to avoid inadvertent plagiarism is crucial.

Language Practice

ChatGPT can serve as an excellent medium for students to practice their English language skills. By engaging in interactive conversations with the AI, students can explore various aspects of the English language, such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and idiomatic expressions. Practicing with the AI provides a safe and non-judgmental space for students to refine their English language proficiency.

Clarifying Concepts

ChatGPT can provide simplified explanations of complex topics. If students find it challenging to comprehend a concept from their lectures, they can ask ChatGPT for a clarification. It’s crucial, though, that students avoid using the AI’s response word-for-word in their assignments – they should use it to grasp the topic and then express their understanding in their own words.

  • Clarification, Not Copying: Students can ask ChatGPT to explain a concept they’re struggling with, but they must be mindful not to include the AI’s explanation verbatim in their assignments. The AI’s explanation should serve as a tool for understanding, not as a content source.
  • Paraphrasing: Once ChatGPT has clarified a concept, students should attempt to paraphrase the explanation in their own words. This practice not only avoids plagiarism but also demonstrates a deep understanding of the concept.
  • Critical Thinking: While ChatGPT’s explanations can provide a starting point, students should also engage their own critical thinking skills. They can ask themselves questions about the concept, make connections to other topics they’ve learned, and consider potential implications or applications of the concept.
  • Reference Points: If a student finds a concept explanation by ChatGPT particularly helpful, they can cite the AI as a source, ensuring that credit is duly given. However, students should remember that the primary sources for academic assignments should be authoritative and scholarly sources.
  • Collaborative Learning: Students can use the explanations provided by ChatGPT to engage in discussion with peers or tutors. By discussing and debating these concepts, students can deepen their understanding and be able to express the concepts in their own words.

Idea Generation

ChatGPT can be of great assistance when students are brainstorming ideas for an essay or a project and find themselves stuck. By asking the AI for suggestions or perspectives on a specific topic, students can gather inspiration. These ideas should serve as a springboard for their work, not as direct sources.

Language Simplification and Accessibility

While I love to read research, sometimes the chosen verbiage and style are difficult to process. One of the great advantages of tools like ChatGPT is their ability to translate complex language into simpler, more accessible terms. This feature can be particularly helpful for students struggling with difficult texts or complex academic language. The challenge is of course how to ensure that students’ comprehension is enhanced without compromising the original meaning of the source material

  • Phrase Requests Carefully: When asking ChatGPT to simplify or explain a text, students should be specific in their requests. For instance, they might ask, “Can you explain this paragraph in simpler terms?” or “Can you rephrase this sentence so that it’s easier to understand?”
  • Understand Context: While ChatGPT can effectively simplify language, students need to remember that context is crucial. They should aim to understand not just individual words or sentences, but how these elements work together to convey meaning within the larger text.
  • Cross-Check for Accuracy: After getting a simplified explanation or rephrasing from ChatGPT, students should compare it to the original text to ensure that the essence of the original content is preserved.
  • Iterative Learning: If the simplified version is still challenging to comprehend, students should not hesitate to ask ChatGPT for further clarification. This iterative process can enhance understanding and progressively build their language skills.
  • Balancing Accessibility and Academic Rigor: While simplification can aid comprehension, it’s also important for students to gradually increase their comfort level with complex academic language. Students can use ChatGPT’s simplified versions as stepping stones, then progressively work their way back to understanding the original, more complex text.


ChatGPT can be an invaluable assistant for proofreading, helping students to check their work for grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, or inconsistencies. This feature can be particularly beneficial for non-native English speakers to ensure their writing is clear, concise, and understandable.

Students can use ChatGPT as a ‘second set of eyes’ to scan their work, pointing out potential issues they might have missed. They might input a sentence or paragraph into ChatGPT, and based on its feedback, make necessary changes. Importantly, the changes should always be driven by the student’s understanding and decision, not just by the AI’s suggestions.

However, students must exercise caution to ensure that the proofreading process does not inadvertently transform their work into an AI-generated piece. Here are some guidelines:

  • Ownership of Ideas: While it’s acceptable to use ChatGPT to help correct language errors, the ideas and arguments presented should always be the students’ own. The AI tool should not be rephrasing or rewriting sentences to the extent that the original idea or argument is changed.
  • Preserving Voice: Students should make sure that their personal voice isn’t lost in the process of accepting corrections suggested by ChatGPT. Each student has a unique writing style, and it’s important not to let the AI homogenize their voice.
  • Selective Edits: Students should not blindly accept all changes suggested by the AI. They need to review each suggestion and decide whether it truly enhances their work and keeps their original meaning intact.
  • Learning from Corrections: Rather than merely implementing ChatGPT’s suggested corrections, students should aim to learn from them. Understanding why a particular sentence is grammatically incorrect or awkwardly phrased will improve their language skills over time.

Proofreading is a crucial stage in writing, allowing students to polish their work and eliminate errors. With AI tools like ChatGPT, the process can be made more efficient. However, it’s essential to maintain the balance between utilizing AI for language correction and preserving the originality of the students’ work.

Learning the Art of Citation

When students use ChatGPT or any other AI tool, understanding the correct way to cite AI-generated content is vital. If students decide to include AI-generated content in their assignments, proper attribution is necessary to maintain academic integrity.

Fact Checking

An integral aspect of academic writing and research is the process of fact-checking and verifying the information derived from various sources. With tools like ChatGPT, students can be led towards a multitude of resources, but the onus of reading, comprehending, and verifying the information should always rest with them.

ChatGPT can be utilized to generate a list of potential sources on a specific topic, offering a starting point for research. From here, students need to engage in the traditional method of academic inquiry – reading these resources, cross-checking facts, and drawing their own conclusions.

When it comes to quoting from resources, students should pull out relevant quotes themselves and understand their context within the larger work. This practice ensures that they fully comprehend the quoted material and its implications for their assignment.

Citation Generator

Another critical aspect is the correct citation of sources. Proper citation not only avoids plagiarism but also lends credibility to the student’s work. While ChatGPT can be utilized to ensure that citations are in the correct format, it’s essential for students to verify that the citation correctly corresponds to the source material. Each citation should accurately reflect the original source, including author, title, year of publication, page numbers, and any other required details according to the citation style being used.

ChatGPT is Not a Reliable Source

It is very important to impress upon students that the excuse “well, ChatGPT said…” is not acceptable. ChatGPT is a resource not a source. It can provide false or misleading information, fake citations, and structure that is unfamiliar to the student. Validating the information is essential. Just as a human being helping a student with an assignment might lead the student astray, this too is possible with Generative AI.

Ask for Editing Support

After writing their own work students can ask ChatGPT to assist with grammar, spelling, and idioms. It is important that students are very specific about what editing suggestions they want from ChatGPT instead of simply rewriting their paper.

“I am submitting this paper to my professor. I do not want to change my ideas nor submit work that is not reflective of my knowledge and capabilities. However, I would like some help with grammar, spelling, and idioms. Provide me some suggestions for corrections without rewriting my paper.”

List of Possible Editing Requests for ChatGPT

Help students to choose specific areas of the editing that they would like support on. By asking ChatGPT for support with spelling or grammar specifically they are less likely to accidentally submit work that is not fully their work. Practice with students on ways to have ChatGPT support their writing instead of doing their writing by practicing prompts.

  1. Grammar Check: Students can use ChatGPT as a tool for grammar assistance by simply asking, “Can you point out the grammatical errors in this text?” ChatGPT will identify any potential mistakes and explain the corrections without altering the student’s original ideas. Importantly, this process supports language learning by enabling students to understand and learn from their mistakes, thereby improving their future writing.
  2. Spelling Assistance: When it comes to spelling, students can prompt ChatGPT by saying, “Can you identify any spelling errors in this paragraph?” ChatGPT can then underline or highlight words that are potentially misspelled, providing the correct spelling as suggestions. This interaction with ChatGPT allows English Learners to focus on spelling inconsistencies they may have overlooked and improves their spelling proficiency over time.
  3. Idiomatic Expressions: Idioms can be challenging for English Learners as they often don’t directly translate from one language to another. Students can ask, “Are there any idioms in this text that I’m not using correctly?” ChatGPT can then flag any idioms that may be misused, providing a brief explanation of the correct usage and meaning of the idiom without rewriting the students’ work.
  4. Punctuation Review: Correct punctuation is vital for ensuring clarity in writing. Students can request a punctuation check by asking, “Can you spot any punctuation errors in my text?” ChatGPT can identify areas where punctuation may be missing, incorrect, or improperly used, providing explanations and suggestions for corrections without changing the student’s writing style or intent.
  5. Syntax Guidance: Syntax, the arrangement of words to create well-formed sentences, can be particularly challenging for English Learners. By asking, “Can you suggest improvements to the sentence structure in this passage?” students can receive guidance from ChatGPT on how to construct sentences more naturally in English. ChatGPT will point out awkward constructions and suggest ways to rephrase them without altering the essence of the students’ work.
  6. Tone and Style Feedback: Finally, to get an overall feedback on the tone and style of their paper, students can say, “Can you assess the tone and style of my writing? Do I maintain consistency throughout the paper?” ChatGPT will evaluate the writing style and provide feedback on areas where the tone might be inconsistent, or the style could be enhanced, all without undermining the student’s personal voice and ideas.

By using these prompts, students can ensure their work is polished and professional, while still maintaining their unique voice and perspective.

Submit Both Versions

Students should be encouraged to again compare and contrast their work with ChatGPT suggestions and try to learn some tips from the suggestions, thus enhancing what the student knows and is capable of.

Students can create a cover paper explaining specifically what they used ChatGPT for, clarifying that they used it only as an assistant and not to complete the assignment. Being up front with AI usage can help keep students out of trouble. “Here is my original work

Provide the ChatGPT Conversation

In ChatGPT students can click on the share icon to get a link to the conversation. Students can consider including the conversation to allow the instructor to see that they indeed used the technology as a support tutor and not as a cheating tool. It is not cheating to get a tutor and it is not cheating to have someone provide editing suggestions. Done properly, ChatGPT can provide this same service without cheating.

screenshot of ChatGPT chat conversation the middle icon is a share the chat link.

Sample Prompts for Students

I asked ChatGPT, and fact checked the prompt list and added some of my own, to provide a list of prompts that students could use that would help support them academically without inadvertently crossing the line to academic dishonesty. Have students practice these prompts and continue the conversation about how best they can submit work that is reflective of their knowledge and capability to allow the instructor to accurately assess the student.

Absolutely, here’s a list of prompts that a non-native English speaking student might use with ChatGPT to assist them in their college assignments while maintaining academic integrity:

  1. What is the meaning of the word “_“?
  2. Can you explain the concept of “_” in simpler terms?
  3. How would you explain “_” to someone who’s never heard of it?
  4. How do I structure an argumentative essay?
  5. What are some key points to consider when writing a thesis statement?
  6. Could you suggest a few topics for a paper on “_“?
  7. What is the proper format for an APA citation?
  8. Can you give an example of an MLA citation for a book?
  9. How do I write a strong conclusion for an essay?
  10. What improvements could I make to my essay conclusion and explain why?
  11. What are some tips for effective proofreading?
  12. Can you suggest a transition phrase to use between these two paragraphs?
  13. How can I improve this sentence to make it more concise?
  14. How do I correctly use the word “_” in a sentence?
  15. Can you explain the rules for using semicolons?
  16. How should I approach answering this essay question: “_“?
  17. What is a common theme in literature written during the “_” period?
  18. How do I critique a piece of art?
  19. Can you suggest some techniques for effective brainstorming?
  20. How do I paraphrase this passage: “_“?
  21. Explain this at an 8th grade level:
  22. What is the difference between “” and ““?
  23. Outline the process to summarize an academic article?
  24. Can you explain the Pythagorean Theorem in simpler terms?
  25. How do I create a reference list for my essay?
  26. What are some ways to develop my argument in an essay?
  27. Can you help me understand the feedback on my essay?
  28. What are some common themes in the works of “_“?
  29. How do I write a persuasive speech?
  30. Can you explain the steps of the scientific method?
  31. How should I structure a lab report?
  32. Can you explain the symbolism in “_“?
  33. What are the conventions of writing in the humanities?
  34. How do I write a research proposal?
  35. How can I improve the coherence of this paragraph?
  36. Can you provide a simple explanation of quantum physics?
  37. How do I use “_” idiom correctly in a sentence?
  38. How can I make my writing more engaging?
  39. Can you provide an overview of postmodernism?
  40. How do I write an abstract for a research paper?
  41. How do I analyze a film scene in an essay?
  42. What are some strategies for studying for a “_” exam?
  43. How do I construct a literature review?
  44. How can I effectively compare and contrast “” and ““?
  45. Can you explain the historical context of “_“?
  46. How do I acknowledge a source within my text?
  47. Can you explain the process of cellular respiration in simpler terms?
  48. How do I express a complex idea succinctly?
  49. What is a good way to start an essay?
  50. Can you give an example of a correctly formatted bibliography?
  51. How do I approach critical analysis in literature?
  52. Can you help me understand this feedback I received on my assignment?
  53. How do I correctly use quotations in my paper?
  54. How do I analyze a poem?
  55. Can you help me brainstorm ideas for my creative writing assignment?
  56. Can you explain the principles of economics in simple terms?
  57. What are the key components of a business plan?
  58. How do I critically evaluate a research article?
  59. What are some effective revision techniques?
  60. Can you give me tips on presenting my research findings?
  61. What are the steps to writing a successful grant proposal?
  62. How can I incorporate feedback into my revised draft?
  63. Can you explain this scientific concept: “_“?
  64. What are some key considerations in ethical research?
  65. How do I write a compelling personal statement for my application?
  66. How do I formulate a hypothesis for my research?
  67. Can you explain the basics of coding in Python?
  68. How do I interpret these statistics?
  69. Can you suggest a way to make this sentence clearer?
  70. How do I use parenthetical citations in my essay?
  71. Can you explain the cultural context of this novel?
  72. How can I make my argument more persuasive in this essay?
  73. Can you help me understand this concept in calculus?
  74. How do I structure a case study analysis?
  75. Can you explain how to solve this physics problem?
  76. How do I develop a compelling narrative in my story?
  77. What are some strategies for time management and organization?
  78. Can you explain the principle of supply and demand in economics?
  79. How do I craft a compelling introduction for my presentation?
  80. Can you help me interpret this chart/graph?
  81. How do I write a reflection on my learning experience?
  82. Can you explain the concept of climate change in simple terms?
  83. How do I format a cover letter for a job application?
  84. Can you suggest an interesting topic for a debate on “_“?
  85. How do I develop characters in a short story?
  86. Can you provide a summary of key events in World War II?
  87. How can I improve the structure of this essay?
  88. What are some key strategies for note-taking during lectures?
  89. Can you explain the significance of “_” in this literary work?
  90. How do I format dialogue in my story?
  91. Can you suggest a creative way to conclude my presentation?
  92. How do I write an executive summary for a report?
  93. Can you explain the concept of “_” in psychology?
  94. How do I create an annotated bibliography?
  95. Can you provide an overview of feminist theory?
  96. How do I design an effective survey for my research?
  97. Can you help me understand this mathematical concept: “_“?
  98. How do I write an effective discussion section in my report?
  99. Can you explain the process of photosynthesis in simple terms?
  100. How can I make this argument stronger in my essay?
  101. What are some strategies for improving reading comprehension?
  102. Can you explain how the democratic system works in the United States?

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