UCSB Writing Program AI Policy

The UCSB Writing Program recognizes the swift growth and widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) writing technology such as large language models (LLMs) and chatbots. As writing and rhetoric specialists committed to preparing students to write for academic, professional and civic engagement, we emphasize the importance of rhetorical, communicative, and continual engagement with developing writing throughout the process of composition. Given the expanding role that large language models will undoubtedly play in our students' lives, we encourage highly mediated, critically-aware, and transparent use of AI writing technology, focusing on four key policy points:

  1. Integrating AI as one of many supportive feedback tools: We advocate for the use of AI writing technology situated within a range of collaboration and communication classroom activities, tools, and resources, to complement students' critical thinking and creative expression through continual feedback, suggestions, and insights, along with regular drafting, peer review, and feedback from instructors.
  2. Promoting academic integrity and honesty: We expect students to maintain academic integrity and honesty while using AI writing technology, acknowledging any and all assistance received from these tools. To foster a culture of responsible AI usage, we encourage teachers to:
    1. Understand that AI language tools involve a range of uses across a spectrum of authorial agency and effort. Communicate clear guidelines and expectations regarding the use of AI writing technology in the classroom, and transparency on which assignments and which parts of the writing process the use of AI writing tools may or may not be included, and the need for proper, clear, and continual attribution of any use of AI writing tools.
    2. Instill in students the importance of outside research in double checking all information produced by AI writing tools, understanding their tendency to “hallucinate” incorrect or fabricated information. Students must research, revise, verify, and take ownership of all output mediated with AI writing tools.
  3. Fostering critical thinking about AI writing technology: We aim to instill in students an awareness of the critical implications of using AI writing technology, such as potential biases and fairness concerns. We encourage teachers to stimulate classroom discussions on AI ethics, including potential biases in AI output and data privacy. Impart on students their responsibility to nurture and protect their individual authorial voice, ideas, and intellectual property as they critically assess the output of any AI writing tool.
  4. Exercising caution with AI detection tools: We emphasize being aware of the significant challenges and risks associated with the use of AI detection tools. We encourage teachers to rely on their expertise, judgment, and a diverse range of assessment strategies to accurately evaluate and grade students' work.
    1. Understand that AI detection tools are not always accurate, are easily fooled, and are prone to producing “false positives” which may involve severe and undeserved consequences to students.
    2. Be aware of the potential risks associated with AI content detectors and other AI tools used for assessing student assignments, such as the possibility of student content being stored, accessed, or used for AI development and training purposes.

To ensure the responsible incorporation of AI writing technology in the classroom and its ethical use, we have provided a range of strategies and guidelines for both teachers and students. These encompass suggestions for teachers who wish to incorporate critical engagement with AI writing technology, such as ChatGPT, into their writing courses, as well as guidelines for students using AI writing technology in their coursework.

Suggestions for teachers who wish to incorporate critical engagement with AI writing technology, such as ChatGPT, into writing courses:

  • Inform students of AI's wide range of potential applications that fall along a spectrum of authorship. AI might be prompted to serve as co-author, editor, formatter, paraphraser, phrase-level thesaurus, word-level thesaurus, grammar aid, peer brainstorming partner, audience member, tutor, etc. Which activities might be permitted at which stages of the writing process?
  • Promote experiments with examples of rhetorical strategies by prompting the AI to incorporate authorial voices, organizational strategies, alliteration, the use of logical appeals, tempo, hooks, fragments, internal rhymes, etc. Help students identify and evaluate the application of these rhetorical moves.
  • Stimulate discussions about writing processes, strategies, and ethics through discussions of AI writing technology. Work with your students to generate diverse examples, compare and contrast them with student work, and examine their strengths and weaknesses collaboratively.
  • Encourage student creativity and curiosity by leveraging AI writing technology to create prompts, topics, or questions for exploration. Challenge students to interrogate how AI writing technology can help them compose pieces across various genres, styles, and perspectives.
  • Invite students to utilize AI to generate text in specific genres in order to recognize and identify genre conventions and reflect upon the role of audience, purpose, and context in developing rhetorically effective prose.
  • Encourage students to compare AI-generated text with human-generated text to see how individual agency, voice, and ethos impact text.
  • Highlight the necessity of integrating AI writing tools into the research process with caution, given that LLMs can "hallucinate" false facts, statements, or sources. Urge students to cross-check AI-generated information and develop critical appraisal skills to maintain the credibility and precision of their work.
  • Examine and address potential biases and fairness concerns that may arise from AI writing technology, including the perpetuation of stereotypes or the exclusion of specific perspectives. Promote critical thinking and discussions to recognize and counteract biases in AI-generated content.

Guidelines for students using AI writing technology, such as ChatGPT, in writing courses:

  • Seek Guidance from Your Professor: Until or unless the University initiates a policy regarding the use of these tools, professors may have varying policies regarding the use of AI writing technology in the classroom, so it is important to defer to your professor's guidance. Be sure to ask your professor about their policy on using AI writing tools like ChatGPT, and adhere to their requirements and expectations when incorporating these tools in your coursework.
  • Acknowledge the Use of AI: If you incorporate ideas, text, or inspiration from AI writing tools in your work, be sure to acknowledge their use in your author's notes or attributions.
  • Think Critically: When using AI writing tools like ChatGPT, remember that they are not perfect and may not always provide accurate or relevant information. They are prone to “hallucinating” convincing, yet incorrect, information. It is essential to critically evaluate the output and cross-check any facts, claims, or sources provided by the tool. Remember that these tools don’t “know” things; they just return the word patterns they were trained on.
  • Protect your Rhetorical Sovereignty: While AI writing tools can be valuable in providing inspiration or generating ideas, it is crucial to ensure that your own voice, creativity, and innovation are not surrendered to the AI. Use these tools as a starting point or a supplement, but not a replacement, for your own thinking and writing.

Resources and Reading

  1. ChatGPT Resources for Faculty – University Center for Teaching and Learning (pitt.edu)
  2. Academic experts offer advice on ChatGPT (insidehighered.com)
  3. Don’t Ban ChatGPT in Schools. Teach With It. nytimes.com)
  4. A Teacher's Prompt Guide to ChatGPT aligned with 'What Works Best' (wordpress.com)
  5. My class required AI. Here's what I've learned so far. (oneusefulthing.org)
  6. AI Text Detectors