Skip to content

Addressing AI in Courses & Syllabi

This content was co-developed with the UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley Centers for Teaching and Learning and ChatGPT (OpenAI's GPT-3.5, 2023). At UC Merced, feel free to get in touch with faculty who use ChatGPT in their classes, like Sylvain Masclin at

ChatGPT and other forms of generative artificial intelligence (AI) are booming. As instructors, it is important to consider what generative AI means for your teaching. What are the expectations for the use of AI in your course and how are you communicating that to your students? In other words, what is your AI usage philosophy? This guide is an evolving set of resources curated for you to help support your discussion of generative AI, like ChatGPT, in your class.

Main Takeaway: Communicate Expectations to Students

  • Whatever your position and subsequent decision about the use of AI that you make as an instructor, explain why you made this decision for your class. Have an open and honest conversation with your students about using generative AI responsibly and ethically.
  • Encourage students to consider the limitations and implications of these technologies.
  • Start with the syllabus.

What is Generative AI

Generative AI such as ChatGPT, GPT-4, Bard, DALL-E 2, and Midjourney, is a rapidly evolving content creation technology. As these tools advance, we can expect to see more innovative applications that leverage the creativity and generative capabilities of AI. However, it is crucial to approach the use of generative AI responsibly and address ethical considerations surrounding its applications, such as misinformation and potential biases.

Need more guidance on AI's opportunities and threats in the classroom? Consider this document which links a series of talks from a symposium at UC San Diego covering academic integrity, assessment, and a student panel. 

Example of How to Discuss Generative AI in the Syllabus

The syllabus is the best place to provide guidance to students about the appropriate use of generative AI. There are myriad ways to approach addressing generative AI in your syllabus.  First, consider what you would like to factor into your AI policy. The following list contains some examples of topics you may consider including that aim to emphasize the responsible use of these technologies to maintain ethical standards in the learning environment.

  1. Emphasize Critical Thinking: This course places a strong emphasis on developing critical thinking skills when exploring and utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Students are encouraged to approach AI with a critical and analytical mindset, evaluating its applications, implications, and limitations to make informed decisions and contributions.
  2. Originality of Work: All submitted work must be the original creation of the student, unless otherwise specified in the assignment guidelines. The use of generative AI models, such as language models or content generators, to produce entire or significant portions of the work is not allowed unless explicitly stated otherwise by the instructor.
  3. Attribution and Citations: When incorporating content generated by AI models, proper attribution and citation practices must be followed. If you use generative AI to assist in research, writing, or content creation, acknowledge the AI's contribution and include appropriate references for the underlying data or models used.
  4. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity: Plagiarism, including copying and submitting work created by others (including AI-generated content), without proper attribution, is strictly prohibited. Any instance of plagiarism will be subject to the institution's academic integrity policy, which may include penalties ranging from failing the assignment to academic disciplinary actions. [See UC Merced's policies on plagiarism and academic honesty here]
  5. Assessment Guidelines: If AI-generated content is permitted in specific assignments or projects, explicit guidelines will be provided. Follow these guidelines carefully to ensure that you comply with the requirements for responsible use of AI in academic work.
  6. Understanding AI Limitations: Recognize that generative AI models have limitations, such as potential biases in the training data and the inability to fully grasp context and nuance. Avoid relying solely on AI-generated content for critical or sensitive assignments that require human understanding and judgment.
  7. Data Privacy and Security: When using generative AI tools or platforms, prioritize the privacy and security of your data. Be cautious about sharing sensitive or personal information while experimenting with AI technologies.
  8. Peer Collaboration: Collaboration with peers is encouraged, but when using generative AI tools, each student must contribute their original ideas and content to the project. Do not share AI-generated content as your sole contribution to group work.
  9. Course-Specific Guidelines: Some assignments or courses may have specific rules or exceptions regarding the use of AI-generated content. Always review and follow the instructor's guidelines for individual projects.
  10. Instructor's Discretion: The instructor reserves the right to use plagiarism detection software or other methods to verify the originality of students' work, including the identification of AI-generated content.

Example Syllabi Content by Faculty

This living document with over 50 examples of classroom policies submitted by faculty across institutions from the Higher Ed Facebook collective and curated by Lance Eaton. For the Spanish version of these policies, check out the work curated by Tatiana Torres Zapata. Continue reading for a few more examples:

Amanda Goldberg syllabus policy

In this course, students may use AI tools such as grammar checkers and citation generators to assist with their writing. These tools can be helpful in identifying errors and formatting citations, but they should not be relied upon completely. It is the responsibility of the student to proofread and carefully review their work before submission to ensure that it meets the standards of academic writing.

Students should also be aware that AI tools may not always produce accurate or appropriate results, and they should not blindly trust or blindly follow their suggestions. It is important to critically evaluate the output of AI tools and use your own judgement and knowledge of the subject matter to make informed decisions about your writing.

Plagiarism is strictly prohibited in this course. Students should not use AI tools to generate original content or to rewrite existing content in an attempt to avoid plagiarism. Students should also be aware that AI tools may not always accurately detect plagiarism, and it is their responsibility to properly cite all sources used in their writing.

By using AI tools in this course, students acknowledge and accept the limitations and risks associated with their use. The instructor and the college are not responsible for any errors or issues that may arise from the use of AI tools.


Inara Scott, OSU College of Business

I expect you to generate your own work in this class. When you submit any kind of work (including projects, exams, quizzes, or discussions), you are asserting that you have generated and written the text unless you indicate otherwise by the use of quotation marks and proper attribution for the source. Submitting content that has been generated by someone other than you, or was created or assisted by a computer application or tool, including artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT is cheating and constitutes a violation of the Student Conduct Code. You may use simple word processing tools to update spelling and grammar in your assignments, but you may not use AI tools to draft your work, even if you edit, revise, or paraphrase it. There may be opportunities for you to use AI tools in this class. Where they exist, I will clearly specify when and in what capacity it is permissible for you to use these tools.

Example of guidance on individual assignments:

I want to address the new AI-tools that you may be hearing about, such as ChatGPT, and their possible role in this project. I want you to be aware that ChatGPT is based on a large language model--it is basically crowdsourcing information and providing likely answers based on the vast amount of text in its database. While it can provide some helpful information, and may spur your thinking in some areas, it is not a reliable source and cannot provide citations or references to reliable data or evidence. (If you ask it for a citation, be aware that it makes things up and the information it's giving you is likely garbage!) 

So, can I use ChatGPT or other AI tools to help write this paper?

Things you can do: ask ChatGPT questions! I personally enjoy chatting with it about topics I'm interested in. For example, "What are some current issues related to sustainability in the airline industry?" When you read what it says, keep in mind that it's probably at least 60-70% correct, but perhaps not more than that. :-) Given that you're considering whatever it told you with a big grain of salt, you'll then need to do some research to find peer reviewed and reliable evidence that might corroborate (or disagree with!) what the AI tool told you. Use those articles to find other articles that consider the same question (review the citation list for other articles to read). Either before or after you ask ChatGPT a question, try a google search with the same sort of query and see what it turns up; also, try a search on the OSU library system. Review, compare, and investigate. Repeat this cycle, keeping in mind that what you're getting from AI is crowdsourced information, not the reliable product of research and assessment.

Things you cannot do: Do not use ChatGPT to draft your paper. Do not use ChatGPT to give you citations. I am saying this both for purposes of coming up with reliable evidence and also from an academic integrity (i.e, cheating) standpoint. If you didn't write it, don't put your name on it and claim that you wrote it. Don't modify a few words here and there and claim you wrote it either. Close the window before you start drafting and put the real evidence and articles you've found into your own words. Do your own analysis and critical thinking.


Kristy Kelly, OSU College of Liberal Arts

Strong writing and research relies on the appropriate attribution of sources. In this class, we’ll have many conversations about what counts as a source, and how to draw clear lines around where your ideas begin and others’ end. This question is complicated by the ubiquity of tools like ChatGPT, Grammarly, Chegg, and even Google’s autocomplete function that are increasingly embedded in students’ writing and study practices. As part of our learning about digital literacy and the appropriate attribution of sources, we'll discuss what counts as “original” writing with the increasing presence of this network of tools, so we’ll talk about how to use those tools appropriately without over-relying on them or threatening the originality of your work.

Since the OSU Student Conduct Code defines Academic Misconduct as “an act of deception in which a Student seeks to claim credit for the work or effort of another person, or uses unauthorized materials or fabricated information in any academic work or research,” we’ll be mindful to avoid claiming the “work or effort” of a machine or AI, as well as another person, as our own. The baseline expectation for our class is that all of the work you submit is your own original writing. I may invite you to use other tools as part of an assignment process, but until then, you’ll be expected to use your brain as the primary tool for creation.



Diving Deeper: Utilizing AI in Activities and Assessments

When using AI in assessment, consider the following policies to promote fairness, accuracy, and ethical considerations among your students:

  1. Establish transparency and communication with your students.
  2. Establish clear learning outcomes with your students (INTERNAL LINK) and consider how generative AI can support the learning outcomes.
  3. Test generative AI yourself before using them in any assignment and share your experience with your students.
  4. Create assignments where students use AI to get inspiration or build upon ideas
    • Download 101 Creative idea to us AI in education (Nerantzi et al., 2023 #creativeHE collection)
    • Consider some practical assignments using AI:
      1. Identify misconceptions or errors in AI-generated text
      2. Recognize the limitations in the response of AI
      3. Evaluate AI algorithms and applications
      4. Examine biases and fairness
      5. Discuss ethical considerations of AI
      6. Explore AI and social impact
      7. Develop an AI application
  5. Design and assess writing assignments with AI in mind
  6. Consider co-grading with AI


  1. AI sample syllabus statements and assignment language. (2023). Center for Teaching and Learning, Oregon State University. Retrieved from
  2. Course Policy on AI (2023). Office for Faculty Excellence, Montclair State University. Retrieved from
  3. Educator considerations for ChatGPT (2023). OpenAI. Retrieved from
  4. Nerantzi, C., Abegglen, S., Karatsiori, M. and Martinez-Arboleda, A. (Eds.) (2023). 101 Creative ideas to use AI in education. A collection curated by #creativeHE. Graphic Design by Bushra Hashim. CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0
  5. Understanding AI Writing Tools and their Uses for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley. (2023) Center for Teaching and Learning, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved from

OpenAI Policies